Proprietors Jim Jenner and his wife Sue, former documentary filmmakers, have owned the building since the ’80s, and had the restoration work done over the last six months. For the occasion, Jenner invited a reporter to drive out, join the festivities and stay the night. Disturbingly, a reporter had failed to make other plans, and being curious about Philipsburg, accepted the invitation with gratitude.
A revolving dozen friends—a Nashville songwriter, a local fuel supplier—had already arrived to help celebrate with drinks in the central kitchen and party games in the barn red library.
Jenner, like anyone who didn’t grow up where he now finds himself, is concerned with issues of authenticity. When the thick fir floors were redone, he left the chop marks by the boiler where firewood had been axed indoors. He also hired a local craftsman to do the restoration work: an offspring of the family that had once owned the last hotel to open in downtown Philipsburg, 25 years ago, now defunct. By the time Jenner got around to introducing his guests to the poker room, a tight enclosure with three doors and high ceilings just off the fishing room, around 9 p.m., the local craftsman had become drunk enough to fall down nose first on the floor of the adjacent bathroom. “See all this?” he’d asked, pointing to the doorframe before he toppled. “I made it look old.”
Across the street at the White Front bar, revelers sang karaoke to an astonishing number of songs with lyrics referring to Texas.
At midnight, fireworks exploded over a small hill down the street.
From inside the Broadway, looking out through tall windows dripping glass with age, they were as pretty a sight as you could ask to see. The Wrangler Room wasn’t bad either