The Great Northern Hotel, Malad’s finest hotel and one of the best in
southeastern Idaho, opened in 1911. Built by David M. Thomas and David P.
Jones, the Great Northern Hotel was among the most substantially built and
comfortable appointed hostelries in Southeastern Idaho.
The three-story building had a lobby, dining room and kitchen on the ground
floor. The two upper floors had 39 sleeping apartments; sixteen of the bedrooms
had private baths and each room could be provided with a private telephone
whenever the business demanded it.
The opening occasion was a banquet given in connection with a ball at the
pavilion by Malad Camp, M.W. of A. It was a brilliant affair that lasted well into
the morning hours. On this occasion, many outside people were present, including
all the contractors who had worked on the building.
For several years the hotels of Malad had been scarcely able to meet the
demands made upon them, and travelers often had to seek accommodation in
private homes. Messrs. Thomas and Jones were moved to build the splendid
hostelry, which amply accommodated the traveling public for years. The people of
Malad were justly proud of the new hotel, which proved to be an important factor
in Malad’s future growth.
During the world wars, the Greyhound Bus stopped at the Great Northern
Hotel to pick up and drop off passengers. Many members of the military left their
families as they boarded the bus at the Great Northern.
On November 13, 1948, an early 5 a.m. fire broke out and caused damage
estimated at $200,000 to the Great Northern Hotel, the Idaho Café, and a teen-age
club in the hotel’s basement. Thirty-five guests in the 39-room brick hotel escaped,
most of them with street clothes thrown hastily over their night clothing.
The fire began in the teen-age club kitchen where Cle Peck, wholesale
popcorn manufacturer, was making popcorn. The electric machine being used
suddenly burst into flames that spread through the basement. Thirty minutes after
the fire broke out, it was obvious that the hotel building could not be saved so the
Malad firemen worked to save adjoining buildings by soaking the roofs and walls.
Their efforts were aided by a firewall between the Hotel and Dives Furniture
Company and the absence of wind. The intense hotel fire burned so quickly that
the upper part of the building soon fell away into the basement, and the flames
could not reach the adjoining roofs.
As the blaze was reaching its peak, hundreds of people aroused by the fire
alarm worked to remove merchandise from Dives Furniture Company, Jones
Hardware Company, and the Griff Davis Water Company. Malad firemen
summoned firemen and equipment from Garland, Logan, and Brigham City, Utah,
to assist, but the hotel was a total loss.
The current two-story building on the same site was built in 1950 by “Hotel”
Bill Thomas, who had been a resident in the hotel at the time of the fire. It was
renamed the Thomas Hotel and operated until _ Gerald Thomas, Larry
Thomas, sold to Rick Werner, who remodeled the thirteen hotel rooms on the
second floor so that each room has a private bath.
The Hubcap Bar in the basement is known for its collection of vintage
The Idaho Enterprise, February 23, 1911.
The Idaho Enterprise, November 13, 1948.