The Legacy of The Monticello Hotel

As you walk through the revolving doors at The Monticello Hotel you can find yourself spinning back in time to the roaring Twenty’s with modern conveniences.

OldMonticelloRobert A. Long, a lumber baron from Kansas City MO., along with his cousins, started a lumberyard, which eventually became the hugely successful Long-Bell Lumber Company. By the end of World War I (1914-1918), Long-Bell’s holdings were nearly depleted and good timber in the South was becoming scarce, Long-Bell executives began searching for a mill site with access to rail and water transportation. The main contenders were Portland and Astoria, Oregon, and a sizable expanse of the flat, swampy farmland at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers, which had once (in the 1850s) been the small community of Monticello.

In early 1921, Mr. Long decided on the Cowlitz River location, with rail access in nearby Kelso, deep water access on the Columbia River, and close to their source of timber. The company acquired 14,000 acres of Columbia Valley bottom land. A large, successful milling operation, however, would need to employ thousands of workers and they would have no place to live.

In 1922, Mr. Long hired Jesse C. Nichols, a successful real-estate developer, George B. Kessler, a renowned landscape architect and Sidney Herbert Hare, a city planner from Kansas City, to offer advice and draft plans for the new community. Longview was the only planned city of its magnitude to have ever been conceived of and built entirely with private funds. The City of Longview was completely planned down to the last sidewalk and the last street name before construction ever began.

The excitement about Robert A. Long’s planned city proved to be contagious our founding fathers: W.F. Ryder, Wesley Vandercook, J.D. Tennant, Mark Morris. R.S. Davis, George Kessler and J.C. Nichols helped with the planning of the city. Robert A Long wanted the first permanent building in Longview to be a symbol of positive things to come and he achieved this with impressive six-stories of brick, steel, birch, white terra cotta and marble trimmed building with 160 rooms and baths including tennis courts called the Hotel Monticello.

Dedication ceremonies for the city of Longview were held at 10:00 a.m. on July 12, 1923, in front of the mostly completed Hotel Monticello. Some 10,000 people showed up for the event and stayed all day for the multitude of planned activities. Two days later, the Hotel Monticello held its grand opening, which culminated with a large banquet.

The interior of the Hotel Monticello lobby was constructed with mahogany paneling around the walls in the lobby with fireplace and hand-painted illustrations and portraits by painter, Joe Knowles. Mr. Long hired Mr. Knowles to create these paintings to remind The Hotel Monticello’s guests of pivotal moments in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. These original paintings were dedicated on August 5, 1925. The paintings tell the vibrant history of the Northwest Territory.

Visitors to The Monticello were numerous. There were dignitaries from around the world. James J. Davies, Secretary of Labor in Washington, D.C. referred to The Hotel Monticello as “Longview’s stamp for every good thing in life!” The Hotel Monticello’s popularity began to increase as The Hotel became the hub for civic events, receptions and conferences. Many weddings, balls and family functions have taken place at The Hotel Monticello.

On March 15, 1934, Robert A. Long, age 83, died in Kansas City, Missouri, from complications after major surgery. A memorial service was held for our Founding Father at the Longview Community Church on March 18, the same day his funeral was conducted in Kansas City.

Over the past 90 years, the Hotel Monticello has undergone massive changes. In 1962, the Hotel Monticello’s sign was blown down during the Columbus Day Storm and eventually replaced with a glowing red sign “Monticello Hotel” to light the way for weary travelers.

In 1973 and 1989 the Monticello Hotel was renovated to house 30 beautiful apartments, Professional Office Suites, four Luxury Suites including our popular Kessler Suite which is considered the Honeymoon Suite with a Full Jacuzzi, four beautifully decorated extended stay hotel rooms. Adjacent to the main Hotel building you will find the North Wing, a 20 unit Motel renovated in 2012.

The Monticello Hotel offers you an elegance that you won’t find anywhere else in Cowlitz County. We challenge you to come and experience both the history and the moment.

Live The Legacy which is the Monticello Hotel.