Montrose, CO — The former Knights of Pythias building, one of Montrose’s oldest downtown buildings, will once again come alive to shelter visitors from around the world as work to transform the building into a boutique hotel is set to begin this fall.
The Knights of Pythias building, or “KP” building, located at 33 South Cascade Avenue in historic downtown Montrose, has sat empty since a devastating fire in 2012 rendered the building uninhabitable.
Beginning this November, work is expected to begin to renovate both the interior and exterior of the structure into the Rathbone Hotel, a world-class, family-friendly hotel.
Earlier this year the KP building was sold to hotelier and hospitality industry expert Clay Bales, who moved to Montrose with his fiancée and two rescue dogs “to enjoy all things Western Slope livin.”
“Montrose is a very special place. I was lucky enough to find Montrose while working on due diligence on another hotel opportunity,” Bales said. “I have spent my career in hospitality and had the pleasure of working on hotel developments all over the country from Vancouver, Canada, to Washington D.C. and have never found a place where being hospitable is so deeply ingrained in everyone in the community.”
According to Bales, the renovations will not only brighten the empty building's appearance but will add 18 upscale boutique hotel rooms to downtown Montrose. The upstairs will have 10 "lofted" suites which will take advantage of the 26-foot vaulted ceilings in the old meeting space of the Knights of Pythias.
The hotel's entrance and check-in area will be located in a parlor-style lobby bar. Additionally, some standard rooms and suites built for Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, access will also be located on the street level, capping the total number of hotel rooms at 18.
Built in 1909 at a cost of $24,300, the Knights of Pythias building is believed to be one of the oldest remaining brick structures in Montrose and was the site of the fourth-annual national convention of the Knights of Pythias held in Montrose in 1911.
According to the Montrose County Historical Society, after construction was completed the Wonder Store was in the bottom part of the building and the lodge hall was upstairs. The great lodge room was 50 by 75 feet with a floor made from maple wood. There were elegant parlors in the front of the building, and the community's original Elks club rented the two rooms on the South First Street corner of the building. Over the years the main floor housed a variety of businesses, including Hupp Furniture, Safeway, and Mash Appliances. In 2012 a fire broke out in the building when it was used as the Budget Line Furniture store. Residents occupying the upstairs apartments were forced to relocate following the fire.
Earlier this summer, Region 10 in Montrose, with some help from Region 9 in Durango, secured a Community Development Block Grant through Region 10's economic assistance program to help with the hotel project. Funding comes from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, OEDIT, a state agency that works to promote job growth and business expansion across Colorado. The Montrose County Board of County Commissioners, which acts as Region 10's fiscal agent on the OEDIT grant, signaled their support with the hope the project will create jobs and add more lodging options in the community.
“Region 10 is excited to work with our community partners in assisting with this project that will bring a new business to the downtown of Montrose and the jobs that it will create," said Dan Scinto, Region 10's Business Loan Fund Director.
Anthony Russo, working with the City of Montrose Business Development, said the City of Montrose is working to find ways to use tax increment financing (TIF) funds left over from the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to help with permanent improvements to the property, the surrounding sidewalks, and parking lot. Bales will also apply for the Development and Revitalization Team’s (DART) Facade Improvement Matching Grant Program to support the beautification of the building's exterior, restoring some of its historic features.
Using TIF funds will ensure that the tax dollars collected downtown continue to be invested in downtown as they were intended, according to Russo. It is estimated that the hotel will bring in 12,000 guests per year that will enhance foot traffic to the downtown corridor.
“The City of Montrose is very excited about this project. The KP Building has sat empty for so long and this project will not only activate the building, but the entire downtown area,” Russo said. “The city was happy that we were able to assist Clay Bales and his team on this project.”
Building renderings show an updated facade with a focus on preserving the historic building’s original character. Hotel rooms feature minimalist decor and take advantage of the second story’s large windows to utilize natural light. The Rathbone Hotel is expected to open for guests starting in winter of 2023.
Telluride resident Jason Raible, who is working on the project along with Bales, said the building's legacy will continue to live on as a cornerstone of Montrose's historic downtown.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Clay and this great team of talented professionals to make this 113-year-old building pretty again," Raible said. "The landmark historic buildings that proliferated downtown in the early 1900s contribute so much to the unique identity of the city. We also believe they can play a key role in the continuing growth of the downtown economy. The KP is a gorgeous building with a great story that I’ve always admired. We can’t wait to get started."
The hotel’s name, the Rathbone Hotel, comes from the founder of the Knights of Pythias organization, Justus Rathbone, who founded the organization in Washington D.C. in February 1864.
"We are very excited to add another core element to Montrose's growth trajectory. The hotel market has been on fire in Montrose and the greater Western Slope in the last few years and demand continues to increase," Bales said. "With everything, the city and county have done to attract business; from the airport expansion to Colorado Outdoors, and everyone in-between, we believe that Montrose has the ability to cement itself as the "Stay here, Play everywhere" destination and continue to benefit from the increase in tourism to the area."
More information about the Rathbone Hotel’s development and completion plans will be released once it becomes available.
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