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We Have a Winner, Tom McTevia.

He submitted the correct answer Tuesday night by email, Helgeson Hotel.

Congratulations to Tom! and thank you for joining us in our 20th week of a feature to celebrate Orofino's 100th birthday and the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery trek through Clearwater County. We hope you enjoy learning about the history of this area. Join us Monday for Week 21.

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Nels and Elizabeth Helgeson built the Helgeson Hotel which opened Dec. 22, 1924. Dedication ceremonies were held Jan. 30, 1925.

According to a display of Helgeson memorabilia at the Clearwater Historical Museum in Orofino, the facility had 58 rooms. It featured hot and cold running water and steam heat. The 12 rooms on the second floor had private bathrooms. The cost for a room was $1 per day or $15 per month.

As people entered the hotel from Johnson Ave., there was a large lobby to the right which soon became a community gathering place. To the left was the Helgeson Dining Room, an elegant place to dine. It had linen tablecloths and napkins, good food and service. According to the display, the most expensive dinner was T-bone steak with salad, potato, vegetables and a drink for 75 cents. A lesser meal of pork chops was 50 cents. Christmas dinner with the trimmings was $1. Behind the dining room was a kitchen where a gourmet cook expertly prepared the food.

The hotel boasted a ballroom in the back of the building behind the lobby and part of the dining room. It had a beautiful floor and was open for every Saturday evening for ballroom dancing to a live band. In addition, it was the scene of many elegant parties.

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Unfortunately, Nels died only four years after it was opened.

According to information in Orofino, Idaho: The Preservation of a Cultural and Historical Past, by Katie Eichert, the hotel has undergone many changes. The lobby and fireplace were changed into living quarters for Elizabeth after her husbandís death. In 1942, the restaurant was eliminated due to the high cost of food supplies during World War II. The ballroom was remodeled into offices which housed the U.S. Forest Service for a time. In later years, the ballroom and restaurant were remodeled into hotel rooms bringing the total to 72.

In 1965, Elizabeth sold the hotel to Shearl Lomax who operated it until 1974 when it was sold to Eugene Searle. He immediately sold it to Cedarcreek Land Company who developed it into a complex for senior citizens and later apartments. In February 1981, it was sold to Clearwater Investments and only a few months later to Darrel Olson. In 1988, it was remodeled into its previous function with hotel rooms upstairs and offices on the ground floor. Paul Pippenger purchased the property in 1990, Eichert concluded.

Photos: Top--The Helgeson Hotel shortly after was constructed. Lower photo--Helgeson Dining Room. (Photos courtesy of Clearwater Historical Museum)

Monday: It is made of brick.

Tuesday: It is a landmark.

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Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Fax: 208-476-3407