Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen introduces the latest installment of the Montana Business Spotlight series recognizing and highlighting local businesses across the Treasure State. This feature introduces Montanans to Boulder Hot Springs Inn and Spa in Boulder. Click the play button on the featured image above to watch the Boulder Hot Springs Montana Business Spotlight.
BOULDER, Mont. — Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen has continued visiting businesses across the Treasure State during her first three years in office, including some of the oldest businesses in Big Sky Country.
Secretary Jacobsen received a tour of Boulder Hot Springs courtesy of general manager Kerri Kumasaka, who provided the organization’s history, sprinkled with tall and truthful tales from the hot springs’ past.
“Oh my gosh, these are wonderful – everything,” Secretary Jacobsen said when browsing through the Boulder Hot Springs west wing. “I feel like we’re in a museum. It’s a wealth of history.”
Kumasaka agreed, and she was delighted to dive into the historic details of the Boulder Hot Springs Inn & Spa that first saw buildings constructed in 1863.
“We’re situated on 274 acres, and we border on the Deer Lodge National Forest, so people can hike up into the National Forest,” Kumasaka explained. “We have a geothermally heated greenhouse and a geothermally heated chicken coop, and we heat the building with the hot springs water. We have about 20 to 40 springs on the property and the water comes out at about 140 to 160 degrees, so we have to cool it down to put it in pools and everything.”
Kumasaka told Secretary Jacobsen how Anne Wilson Schaef purchased the building in 1989, despite the building being condemned and set for demolishing.
“One of the things that Anne loved to do is she loved fixing up old buildings,” Kumasaka said, “so she bought the building, brought on some other owners, and together they were then fixing it up.”
“I just am really grateful that Anne decided to buy it and fix it up, rather than it getting bulldozed, because the woodwork alone and some of these things that are just amazing,” she continued. “It’s really quite a story how (Anne) decided to fix it up and make it available. She really bought the building to be of service and to make sure that the public could use the water for healing.”
Guests visiting Boulder Hot Springs can soak in the outdoor pool or the indoor pools, with the latter offering both men’s and women’s pools, though the men’s is also co-ed. Overnight patrons can choose from nearly 30 rooms, with each boasting its own theme based on the history of the building.
Kumasaka showed Secretary Jacobsen some of the Hot Springs’ most popular bed and breakfast rooms, including the California Mission Style Room and the Celebration Suite. She also highlighted the inn’s most famous accommodation, Simone’s Suite, named after the ghost that legend says calls Boulder Hot Springs home.
“Some people really want to stay here and they’re really curious, and some people refuse to stay in it,” laughed Kumasaka. “We believe that (Simone) was a woman who worked here and that she got into an argument with a Butte mining executive and that he stabbed her in this office. But we say she’s a friendly ghost. She’s not harmful or mean in any way.
“But she used to play tricks on the owners. For example, when there was just a handful of people here fixing up the building, somebody kept turning on the stove and they couldn’t figure out who it was. So finally they figured out it was Simone and that she wanted a cup of tea. So, they made her a cup of tea and set it out, and then she stopped doing that. But sometimes things are taken from one part of the building to the other and we just say, ‘Oh, it’s probably Simone.’”
“I’ve never seen her,” Kumasaka continued. “Anne said she saw her went up in this old side of the building and she was wearing a white Victorian style blouse and a black skirt and everything.”
The ghost of Simone may be the talk of the hot springs these days, but she’s certainly not the only celebrity that’s passed through its halls.
“This is what we call the west wing lobby or the fireplace lobby,” Kumasaka said of one of the most cozy rooms in the hot springs. “This is where they say Teddy Roosevelt used to sit by the fire after hunting. And there were also two other presidents who came here, Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt. There was also the general, Omar Bradley, who was a five-star general, apparently he came here.”
Kumasaka also explained her excitement at some recent news Boulder Hot Springs received to assist with some much-needed updates.
“We got a grant from the State of Montana, it’s a historical preservation grant, to fix up the outside of the building because it’s over 100 years old and we really need to fix it up. There are places where it’s falling off,” said Kumasaka. “What we need to do is we need to remove the stucco, repair the frame of the stucco, and then re-stucco it, so it’s a major, major project.
“We have to raise some more money, we’ll be raising funds to do that, especially with the cost of construction and other costs. But we’re really happy to have it fixed up on the outside.”
Secretary Jacobsen thanked Kumasaka for the tour and in-depth history of the Boulder Hot Springs. She also encouraged Montanans to visit the rustic treasure located in Jefferson County.
“It was wonderful to visit with Kerri and listen to her extensive knowledge about Boulder Hot Springs and the surrounding area,” said Secretary Jacobsen. “She’s clearly passionate about promoting the hot springs and other local businesses.
“Thank you for doing business in Montana.”