Hotel La Bonte

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Hotel La Bonte in 1914
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Featuring fine rooms and all-American food in its on-site restaurant, the LaBonte Hotel has been a downtown Douglas landmark for over eighty years. When the Douglas’ Valley House Hotel was scheduled for removal in 1914 from the Burlington Northern Railroad’s path, the need for a new hotel in Douglas arose, and the LaBonte Hotel’s long history began.

In January 1913, a group of Douglas businessmen met to raise finances for a new hotel large enough to accommodate travelers. Three contiguous lots owned by E. T. David on the northeast corner of North Second and Walnut Streets were chosen as the location. On February 14, 1913, the Douglas Hotel Company was incorporated with five directors to build the $55,000 hotel.

On October 6, 1913, Eugene W. Shubert of Boise, Idaho announced that he had leased the hotel and purchased modern furnishings. The announcement, however, was premature, and on November 20, H. O. Emery of Thermopolis, Wyoming was announced as acquiring a ten-year lease. Nearly $15,000 was spent on furnishings from the Denver Dry Goods Company and the Brunswick-Balke Company. After deliberation, the name “Hotel LaBonte” was selected, and it opened on January 26, 1914.

The LaBonte Hotel featured 54 guest rooms on the upper two floors, while the first floor featured a several guest services. The hotel lobby was located inside the recessed central wing. A kitchen and dining room occupied the east wing of the ground floor, while a barber shop and combination billiard hall and bar occupied the west wing. The hotel was well-equipped not only with luxurious furnishings, but also with the latest conveniences and safety features, including electric lights, steam heat, telephones in every room, hot and cold running water, and a north side fire escape. In addition to its convenient location near the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad passenger depot, the LaBonte Hotel was promoted as a desirable resting place for Yellowstone Highway travelers. After its opening, the LaBonte was well-received, became a focal point for banquets and other functions, and was heavily patronized by overnight guests.

The hotel appears to have been in continuous use for over eighty years. In 1982-83, an enclosed dance floor was constructed within the central courtyard. Today, the hotel represents twentieth century commercial architecture and Beaux Arts Classicism. It is one of the largest buildings in Douglas and still symbolizes optimism and confidence in Douglas’ future.

In addition to its history and fine rooms, the Hotel LaBonte offers an extensive lunch and dinner menu. Served from 11 AM to closing, the lunch menu features scrumptious hamburgers with all the fixings, hot and cold sandwiches, and an array of salads. Dinner, served from 5 PM to closing, provides patrons with more upscale offerings. Menu items include appetizers, seafood selections, chicken and pasta entrees, and big juicy steaks grilled or broiled to perfection.

On your next visit to Douglas, savor the community’s history while dining and resting in style at the Hotel LaBonte.

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