Montrose, CO — City Councilors have voted unanimously to place the historic Knights of Pythias building, located at 33 S Cascade Ave., on the City of Montrose’s Register of Historic Places. The building will be added to the city’s register while rehabilitation work continues to transform the vacant building into a new boutique hotel.
The massive three-story yellow brick building, featuring a central parapet with a concrete-trimmed “KP Building” name plaque on the west façade, is one of the oldest remaining brick structures in Montrose.
On September 27 the City of Montrose Historic Preservation Commission considered an application for historic property designation of the “KP Building,” located at 33 S Cascade Ave, according to Section 4-15 of the Montrose Municipal Code.
The commission then voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council for approval as a historic property.
City Planner William Reis told City Councilors Tuesday the building was erected by the Knights of Pythias in 1909 as the second fraternal lodge hall in Montrose. Reis said the structure also meets the integrity criteria per Montrose Municipal Code Section 4-15-3 as follows:
- The building is over fifty years old.
- The building is significant for its association with the history of fraternal lodges in Montrose, having been erected as the second lodge hall in the city erected by the Knights of Pythias.
- The building, although altered, represents the Classical Revival style popular during the early twentieth century through its cornice with brackets, concrete courses, two-story pilasters with stone trim, and windows with arched lintels.
- The structure has been found to also meet the integrity criteria per Montrose Municipal Code 4-15-3 (C).
The Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization founded in 1864 by Justus Henry Rathbone in Washington, DC, has had a chapter in Montrose since the 19th century. By 1908, Cascade Lodge No. 33 had purchased property at the corner of South 1st Street and Cascade Avenue for the construction of a new building.
The building was completed in 1909 at a cost of $24,300. The upper floor held a large lodge hall and four large club rooms. The first story of the building was used as a variety of storefronts over the years. In 1911, the fourth annual convention of the Knights of Pythias of the Western Slope was held in Montrose with more than 400 people attending.
The great lodge room was 50 by 75 feet with a floor made from maple wood. Historical accounts reflect there were elegant parlors in the front of the building, and the community's original Elks club rented the two rooms on the South First Street corner of the building. Over the years the main floor housed a variety of businesses, including Hupp Furniture, Safeway, and Mash Appliances.
In 2012 a fire broke out in the building when it was used as the Budget Line Furniture store. Residents occupying the upstairs apartments were forced to relocate following the fire.
"We're very excited to see the new owners of the Knights of Pythias building decide to place the property on the city's register,” Reis said. “This former fraternal lodge is an important part of downtown Montrose's history and a great example of Classical Revival style architecture. Our list of designated buildings is growing rapidly, and we hope that this will inspire more downtown property owners to explore designation."
Beginning in October work began to transform the vacant structure into a new boutique hotel set to open in 2024. The building’s new owners said renovations will not only brighten the empty building's appearance but will add 17 upscale boutique hotel rooms to downtown Montrose. The upstairs will have 10 "lofted" suites which will take advantage of the 26-foot vaulted ceilings in the old meeting space of the Knights of Pythias.
The hotel’s name, the Rathbone Hotel, comes from Justus Rathbone, the founder of the Knights of Pythias organization.
Building renderings show an updated facade with a focus on preserving the historic building’s original character. Hotel rooms will feature minimalist decor and take advantage of the second story’s large windows to utilize natural light.
The Knights of Pythias building is now the 10th historic structure added to the city’s local registry since it was created in 2019.
City of Montrose Register of Historic Places:
- City Hall: 433 South First Street, added on September 17, 2019
- Potato Growers Association Building: 39 West Main Street, added on October 1, 2019
- The Missouri Building: 347 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
- The Block Building: 345 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
- The former BPOE Lodge Building: 107 South Cascade Avenue, added on November 17, 2020
- Montrose Fire Department No. 1 Station: 24 South Uncompahgre Avenue, added on June 1, 2021
- Historic Montrose County Jail: 271 South First Street, added on July 6, 2021
- Denver and Rio Grande Depot: 21 North Rio Grande Avenue, added July 20, 2021
- S.H. Nye Building: 428 East Main Street, added March 1, 2022
- Knights of Pythias Building: 33 South Cascade Ave, added November 1, 2022