How Charles Russell and I are connected in Great Falls Montana
When it comes to Great Falls you won't find anyone more famous than Charles Russell. Considered one of the best "western" artists in American history he's linked to Great Falls, and there is one way I'm linked to him as well.
The Rainbow Hotel was designed in 1911 and cost $400,000 to build. In today's money that is almost 12.5 million dollars. Regarded at the time as the nicest hotel between Minneapolis and Seattle, it was where anyone who was anyone gathered when in Great Falls.
Great Falls is also home to Western Art Week transforming our city into the Western Art Capital of the world. You might think it goes back just over 50 years, but in reality it goes back to 1927, the year after Charles Russell died.
That first Russell Memorial Art Exhibit and Sale was held at The Rainbow Hotel, which was still a hotel at that time.
That brings me to how we're connected. By the time I had moved to Great Falls, The Rainbow Hotel had been converted to a senior living home. Located on the second floor, however, were the Central Montana Radio Network studios. Fresh out of broadcasting school I covered the midnight to six am shift on 560 KMON.
I was in awe of the size of The Rainbow Hotel and the history of it from the moment I stepped inside for my first day. I would have loved to seen the Palm Room during it's heyday with music and dancing.
The Rainbow Hotel connects me to more than just Charles Russell. It connects me to my family in South Dakota. On one of my first trips back after moving to Montana, I mentioned I worked in a building that used to be a hotel named The Rainbow Hotel. My grandparents ears perked up and they returned with a letter from my grandfathers sister that she sent my great grandmother.
It was a recipe for watermelon pickles made by the chef at The Rainbow in 1962.