In 1805 and 1806, Lewis and Clark blazed a trail through the Walla Walla region and were intrigued with what they experienced.
Thirty years later, missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman built a mission among the Cayuse Indians near Walla Walla. After 11 years of service, the Whitmans and several of those staying at the mission with them met an untimely death in November 1847.
The name Whitman became widely used in the local area with everything from Whitman Street to Whitman College.
It came as no surprise in 1927, when the people of Walla Walla decided to honor Marcus Whitman by naming their new hotel after him.
The idea for a luxury hotel to attract travelers and conventions had been a topic of discussion since the early 1920s. In 1927, W.W. Baker, president of Baker Boyer National Bank, called together the city fathers and spearheaded the efforts of moving forward with the idea. More than 200 businessmen attended that first meeting in support of the idea of a first-class hotel.
An investment company from Seattle, Real Estate Improvement Company, offered to put up $300,000 toward the building of the hotel if the community could raise $150,000 in 90 days.
Walla Walla rose to the challenge with the city fathers selling $100 shares of stock in the hotel. Within just weeks, the required amount had been raised and Walla Walla was on its way to having a luxury hotel.
Sherwood D. Ford of Seattle was selected as the architect for the hotel.
The Construction began in September 1927. Amid much enthusiasm, the Marcus Whitman Hotel officially opened on September 1, 1928. W.W. Baker was first in line to sign the guest register.
At the time the hotel opened, it was the most luxurious hotel for miles around. It was also the only hotel on record at that time that used the same system for heating and cooling the rooms.
Through the years, "The Hotel" has hosted numerous dignitaries and celebrities, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, Louie Armstrong and Shirley Temple.
By the 1970's, the hotel had begun to slide into disrepair. In 1999, Kyle Mussman formed Real Estate Improvement Company and bought the historic structure. Sharing a community vision with the City and Port of Walla Walla, they restored and expanded the grand old building to provide not only classic elegance and style, but also cutting-edge technology for today's conference needs. The hotel officially reopened in the spring of 2001.
In 2007, another renovation opened up the third, fourth and fifth floors of the historic tower as guest rooms from what had been private office space.
The 1928 Gift & Wine Shop was added in the spring of 2009.Today, the hotel strives to provide Exceptional Guest Experiences for Every Guest and offer all our guests an opportunity to enjoy the luxury and history of a bygone era.
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