Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa, and Retreat Center is one of twenty-six sites statewide to receive grant funding through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) program for preservation and restoration projects.
Boulder Hot Springs will receive $498,500 as part of House Bill 12, which was signed into law by Gov. Gianforte on May 12. This bill put $5.5 million toward the MHPG program, which was created in 2019 and was designed to provide support to the preservation of historic sites, structures, societies, or museums. Twenty-three Montana communities will share the grant funding.
Chuck Tesmer, part of the ownership group that operates Boulder Hot Springs, and long-time guest and volunteer Annika Hirmke learned of the grant opportunity in January 2020, about a month before the application deadline. Together, the two were the main grant writers, but they credit the community at large for making it possible.
“It was a real learning process for us, not being professional grant writers,” said Tesmer, “The state was very helpful to us in the process. It was clear they wanted us to do well.”
“Also from the local community here,” Hirmke added, “we had help from everyone here at Boulder Hot Springs, but also from Boulder, Jefferson County, and also some of our guests wrote us letters of support.”
Boulder Hot Springs received the highest amount of funding after Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies, which is set to receive $500,000. Other nearby sites that received funding from the grant include Butte’s Hotel Finlen, Mother Lode Theater, and Carpenters Union Hall.
Construction of the first building at the Boulder Hot Springs began in the 1860s. The resort hosted celebrities, wealthy landowners, and a few presidents in its time. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The new renovations are set to take place in the spring of 2022.
The focus of the restoration is on the exterior of the building.
“It’s a patchwork, at this point, of attempts to secure places where the plaster has fallen down,” explained Tesmer. “So we are hoping to do a complete exterior renovation.” The renovation would include the substruction, the stucco-like finish, the gutter system, the eaves, landscape work to regrade the slope away from the building, possible insulation and moisture barrier work, and anything underneath the finish that may need replacing.
“It’s a massive project,” stated Tesmer.
The estimated budget for the project is higher than the grant amount, but Hirmke and Tesmer said they received the full amount they had requested in their grant application.
“As a for-profit business we will have to provide matching funds,” Hirmke said, stating the required matching funds are 20% of the grant, or $99,700. “That will get us pretty far...our original estimate was a little higher than that total and now with rising construction costs, we don’t know exactly if that will cover it. But we will be able to know more in the next couple of months when we go through the planning.”
Tesmer said that the biggest thing they learned during this process was how much the community supported the Boulder Hot Springs. “There is a lot of excitement about this place. That’s really heartwarming. And the support we got from Jefferson County and in Boulder — I’m sure that had to be a huge part in getting accepted for the [grant]. We really appreciate that.”
“We are just really grateful we can continue taking care of this building through the grant now and really appreciate all the support,” Hirmke added.