The Finlen Hotel stands on the site of the old McDermott Hotel. The McDermott, built in 1889, was known as one of the grandest hotels in the Northwest. James T. Finlen bought the McDermott in 1902 and renamed it the Finlen Hotel. James, however, envisioned an even grander hotel located on Broadway Street in Butte, Montana. James had the hotel closed and razed in 1924. James hired the architectural firm Shanley and Baker to design his new hotel.
Shanley and Baker designed the Finlen Hotel after the Hotel Astor in New York City. The plans called for a nine-story French Second Empire building with a copper shingled roof. A local contractor, Albert Broadland, broke ground on the new building on February 15, 1923 and completed construction on New Years Day, 1924. After spending $750,000 for its construction, James saw his vision become reality. The Finlen officially opened its doors in February 1924.
A 1924 newspaper article about the newly completed Finlen stated that a “Homelike Atmosphere Will Be Ideal of Management”. The article went on to report on the qualifications of the staff and management. Maurice Weiss, the manager of the Placer Hotel in Helena, had been hired as Manager. Jack Harris, formerly of the Rainbow in Great Falls was brought in “to make dining a popular diversion”. To try and retain the reputation of the McDermott, many of the staff members were given jobs in the Finlen.
The McDermott Hotel had been host to many notables including Marcus Daly, William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, and the noted western artist Charles Russell. The Finlen Hotel continued the tradition of playing host to the famous as they came to Butte. Some of those who chose the Finlen include Charles Lindberg, Mrs. Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, then Senator John F. Kennedy, and then Vice-President Richard Nixon.
In 1948 the Hotel Finlen advertised 200 attractive rooms for $2.50, as well as Montana’s Most Distinctive Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. Twenty years later, the hotel advertised 185 rooms and apartments, the Cavalier Lounge, and the dining Room.
The Taras Family purchased the Finlen in 1979. In the more than 30 years that the Taras’ have owned the hotel, they have seen much change. The Military Entrance Processing Station for the State of Montana moved from their offices in the Finlen. The lobby and mezzanine, which had been showing their ages, were renovated and made more beautiful than ever. The lobby has been reopened and all guests now experience the grandeur that is the Finlen.