New hotel replaces Mercantile, but with many callbacks to history

Posted at 7:05 AM, Apr 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-24 09:05:53-04

MISSOULA – You’ll be able to walk through Missoula’s newest hotel in a little more than six months.

It will not only be a walk through the future of downtown Missoula but also a walk through its past, as the new Marriott Hotel begins a new chapter in the history of Higgins and Front. 

There are still some Missoula history buffs who will always be nostalgic and sad that the Missoula Mercantile couldn’t be saved. But now that the new Marriott Hotel being built by HomeBase Montana is finally closed in, you can see how the new structure evokes feelings of the past. 

It starts in the mockup of the new hotel rooms erected to showcase what guests will find when they book a stay. The rooms’ layout is "homey", and upscale, blending the amenities you’d expect in a $170 a night room with notes to the past, from the historical photos to the reclaimed Mercantile wood around the door frame. 

Deeper in the building, The Mews doesn’t use the old crumbling brick that was such a problem with the original building. But the new brick gives one the same sense of place we had in those last days of the Merc’s demolition.

"The Mews" will be lined with artwork and artifacts, providing a public space stretching from Pattee to Higgins, with indoor access to the shops and restaurants along the ground floor face of the building.

"We salvaged a tremendous amount of material, from brick to a lot of the wood planks to beams to images to big metal shutters. And all of our design incorporates a significant amount of that material," said Andy Holloran with HomeBase Montana

Glass will enclose that commercial street front with two major restaurants anchoring each corner. 

Upstairs, rooms and hallways have been framed in, the rooftop courtyard and an interior atrium giving every room a dose of natural light, with a design to capture every available Missoula view.

Even the future exercise rooms have a familiar feel, almost as if we were walking in a revamped, and not completely reconstructed building. 

Perhaps nowhere will that sense of history be more evident than in the Presidential Suite, where the second floor of the Old Pharmacy will be the most prestigious location in the hotel, with a loft to appreciate the classic street front windows. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done but HomeBase and the Dick Anderson Construction Group remain on pace to get the hotel open this coming winter, with an opening date close to the holidays, an appropriate gift to Missoula present, and past.

Holloran says his team is still entertaining ideas for what should happen on the corner of Pattee and Main once the old Firestone building is no longer needed for a construction office.