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The Art Deco rejuventation of the Mt. Baker Hotel

Heritage hostelry in the heart of downtown Cranbrook reborn as boutique hotel
Pictured is the ‘Banker’s Suite’, room 214 at the newly renovated Mount Baker Hotel in Cranbrook. This is one of seven suites that has been completely re-done in an Art Deco style. (Submitted file)

The saying that everything old is new again is true here in Cranbrook, as the historic Mount Baker Hotel enters their second phase of revitalization and renovations.

Three years ago, Greg Eaton purchased the Mount Baker Hotel on Baker Street with the hope of turning it from a rundown hotel, bordering on decrepit, into a popular place for business people to stay.

A few years and a few hundred thousand dollars later, Eaton’s dream is becoming a reality.

“The Mount Baker Hotel was built in 1923, right after the prohibition. At the time, it was one of the finest hotels, with nightly accommodations,” Eaton explained. “The Trozzos owned it until about the year 2000 or so, and then things started to go south. It went through a series of owners who, essentially, ran it into the ground. The hotel has a terrible reputation, known for being sleazy and unkempt. We had a vision to turn that around and saw the potential in this historical building.”

According to researched files from the Cranbrook Courier, courtesy of Historian David Humphrey, the Mount Baker Hotel was built by Nils Hanson, using bricks from his own brick factory north east of Cranbrook.

“Mount Baker Opening — Cranbrook’s newest hostelry, the Mount Baker Hotel will be formally opened by its proprietor, Mr. Teddy Clauson, on October 31, the eve of All Saints Day.” — Reads an excerpt from the Cranbrook Courier on October 26, 1923.

The files also say that Clauson owned and operated the hotel up until March 1947, at which time Mr. and Mrs. W.M. Kenneman purchased the hotel.

It went through a series of other owners, until Ralph and Gina Trozzo purchased it in 1971. They completed their own renovations, such as adding another section, and owned the building until 2002. In 1984, Ray Dube opened a barbershop on the main floor, where he continues to cut hair to this day.

Eaton says that the original charm and appeal of the hotel is what he’s drawing inspiration from.

When he purchased the building, Eaton says there were tenants who would rent the place for months at a time. His ultimate goal is to have the hotel operate similarly to Airbnb, with nightly rentals.

Step by step, the hotel is being renovated, with each room undergoing extensive changes. Right now, there are seven rooms that have been completely re-done all in an Art Deco style. Eaton says that each of the renovated rooms are pretty much fully booked at all times. The hotel was built with brick and fir, and that has been echoed in the updates.

“We want to take this hotel back to what it was originally meant to be,” Eaton said, adding that this is Cranbrook’s only boutique hotel. “We want it to be memorable, to be an experience. Our target audience is the business traveller. It’s easily walkable; you don’t need a car to stay here. Each room is different and we hope that people who stay here will remember the uniqueness of each room.”

Eaton is headed into phase two of renovations, having just secured over $200,000, which will go towards replacing the roof, upgrading services like plumbing and electrical, and hopefully renovating more rooms.

Many of the hallways feature murals and photos that were acquired from the Columbia Basin Trust Institute, showcasing the history of the city, from the railway to the hotel itself. Eaton says they’ve been working with The Bedroom Furniture Galleries as well, to ensure that each bed is comfortable and covered in high-quality linens. Each of the 28 rooms have wifi, cable and air conditioning and range from $99 to $200. Those looking to stay can book through Airbnb or by calling the front desk.

Eaton adds that renovations have been going smoothly, aside from the typical challenges with plumbing and electrical that tend to come with old buildings.

“You know, the biggest issue we’re having right now is changing the stigma around what this hotel used to be. We’re trying to change that,” Eaton said. “We want it to be a place that Cranbrook locals invite their family to stay, where people travelling through can enjoy their time.”

He says that many of their recent clientele have been from Alberta, Vancouver and the rest of B.C., especially since travel restrictions loosened and tourism is making a come back.

The hotel’s location is ideal, with Soulfood restaurant directly below, as well as Velvet Life and of course, Barber Ray. Not to mention the fact that it’s right on Baker Street, just minutes from all of the other great shops and restaurants in Cranbrook.

“You really can’t get a better location, and Cranbrook is such a fantastic city in the heart of the Kootenays. There are so many great businesses downtown and we’re happy to be part of that,” said Eaton.

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Pictured is the bedroom in the ‘Banker’s Suite’, room 214 at the newly renovated Mount Baker Hotel in Cranbrook. This is one of seven suites that has been completely re-done in an Art Deco style. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)
All of the doors and hallways at the Mount Baker Hotel have been given a re-fresh, with the door numbers echoing the Art Deco theme throughout. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)
At the top of the stairs on the first floor of the Mount Baker Hotel is a mural of a Cranbrook train from the Columbia Basin Trust Institute Archives. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)
The Mount Baker Hotel in Cranbrook. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

Corey Bullock

About the Author: Corey Bullock

Corey Bullock is a multimedia journalist and writer who grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
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