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Wort Hotel - TravelStorys

Historic Downtown Jackson

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Wyoming 40 minutes

Wort Hotel

At the corner of Broadway and Glenwood Street stands the historic Wort Hotel. In 1915 Charles Wort (pronounced wert) purchased four town lots for $25 apiece with the idea of building a luxury hotel in Jackson. He was already operating a successful boat rental business on Jenny Lake as well as a hunting and fishing camp where Signal Mountain Lodge stands today in Grand Teton National Park. Charles also ran a livery barn for horses on the property in town as well as another stable on the corner of Cache and Broadway which he later turned into a Ford automobile dealership. He died in 1933 never fulfilling his dream for the hotel, but his sons John and Jesse took up the cause and in 1941 the current Wort Hotel was completed. The style, though not western in flavor, does reflect the alpine look that the Tetons inspired. The hotel was remodeled in 1950 and the famous Silver Dollar Bar was added. The large S-curved bar was inlaid with 2,032 uncirculated 1921 Liberty silver dollars from the Federal Reserve Bank in Denver. To prevent souvenir collectors or free-drink enthusiasts from prying out the coins, the holes in the counter were drilled slightly smaller than the actual coins, the dollars chilled with dry ice, glued to the wood underneath the black formica and once returning to room temperature were virtually impossible to extract. ***** The main entrance to the lobby is on the Glenwood Street side which was originally the main street leading north out of town towards the homesteads in the valley and on to Yellowstone National Park. ***** Gambling has long been illegal in Wyoming, but during this time you could always count on finding a game in Jackson. Even judges and legislators were known to try their hand at any one of the several establishments offering a slim chance at improving your fortune. The Wort had poker, a roulette wheel, and one-arm bandits among other pleasures. When the occasional police raid might occur, word always preceded it and the equipment was moved to the basement or another motel room down the road. When Governor Millward Simpson threatened to send in the National Guard in 1956 to shut things down, the fun came to a halt. The Wort brothers sold the hotel in 1960. Today you can see the roulette wheel, photos, and other historic paraphernalia on display from those heady, bygone days when the phrase “Meet me at the Wort” was commonly heard around town as an invitation to join in a sociable get-together over drinks or a game of chance. ***** In 1980 a major fire started on the second floor causing serious damage. After the guests and staff were evacuated the next thing to be saved was the silver dollar bar. By June of the following year the renovation was complete, the silver dollar bar reinstalled, and the hotel opened again for business. When the designer and architect, Ren Grimmett, was interviewed after the fire and asked why there wasn’t more extensive damage, he shared that he had built the hotel with large wooden beams instead of steel girders for just such a possibility. If a fire started its heat might cause the steel to fail resulting in a collapse of the whole structure, whereas large wooden beams would only burn in an inch or so and continue to support the building. Apparently it worked as expected. Mr. Grimmett also designed and built The Stagecoach Inn, a twin sister of the Wort, still in operation today in West Yellowstone, Montana.

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