Tucked off of Main Street and within walking distance of downtown, The Calvert Hotel in Lewistown has proved an anchor of hospitality. What was once a dormitory for early 1900s high school students now houses a luxury boutique hotel with reflections of the past, modern amenities, and good old-fashioned customer service.
Like the rural area that is Fergus County, the Calvert had it’s beginnings in the Federal Homestead Acts of 1901 and 1912. The unique opportunity of land for settlement, first 160 acres and then 320 acres, brought many people west to try their hand at agriculture and the promise of the American Dream, owning their own property. With the rise of settlement came construction of the Great Northern Railway east of Lewistown, and Fergus County saw a spike in economic growth as the transportation of goods was timely and feasible from the East Coast shipyards and Midwest between 1908 and 1919.
With the influx of families to the region, schools became as important as the rails between towns. Montana had already passed the Montana County Schools Act in 1899 to establish centralized high schools, and in the large area of Fergus County, it was impossible for a high school to be traveled to daily by students wanting an education. In 1916 the Fergus County High School principal asked the Chamber of Commerce for funds for a dormitory for those outlying students to stay at during the week. Bonding had failed to raise money for the construction of a dormitory so a private corporation, the Fergus County Improvement Corporation, was established as a funding source through the selling of shares. The dormitory was built in 1917 and served many students over the years. In the dwindling years of the land rush the building was used solely as a girls’ dormitory, and by August 1925, Fergus County found itself broke causing the facility to be closed.
The brick building was ideal for housing, and Mrs. Emma Marsh saw the potential when she purchased it from the Fergus County Development Corporation in 1928. She and her husband, George, converted the dormitory to a hotel, naming it The Calvert. For the next 41 years, Mrs. Marsh made improvements, including private bathrooms, refurnishing, redecorating, and a very well-know and well-patronized dining area in the basement. The hotel ran similarly to a boarding house as people stayed on a monthly basis and ate their meals together in Mrs. Marsh’s dining room.
Today The Calvert is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been a hotel since the Marshes converted it and continued to be after they sold it in 1969. IN 2007, the property was purchased by Steve Duffy and saw extensive renovations, including custom tile bathrooms, new carpet, and elaborate suites. The Calvert saw another transition when purchased by Jeff Southworth and Julie Walsh of Lewistown. With many updates to the rooms, including leather sleeper sofas, luxury linens, Smart TVs, and Keurigs, The Calvert continues to provide a comfortable destination for those traveling to central Montana. Included in the room rate is also a full hot breakfast, just like Mrs. Marsh used to make.
For the past 100 plus years The Calvert has been a place of rest for many a traveler and a key player in the economic framework of Fergus County. So, whatever brings you to central Montana, if you’re looking for a historic building with character and a modern feel, the place to stay is The Calvert Hotel.