For 120 years, the Kempton Hotel has been the heartbeat of the Terry, Montana community.

"43,852 days...today," boasted owner, Russell Schwartz. "So you are here 43,852 days after our first guest was here."

The Kempton Hotel holds the record of being the longest continuously operated hotel in the state.

"The hotel was built in 1902. In 1902, Theodore Roosevelt was the president. He's a personal friend of James 'Bernie' Kempton. They worked together, their ranches were 85 miles apart....these were true pioneers and James was part of that group."

The Schwartz's purchased the hotel in the late 1990s.

"When we bought this we had no idea that our entire retirement and our life was gonna get caught up into keeping this place open. As I did more and more research I realized how special this place was. Not just because of the people who stayed here but found out what the hotel did for the community."

Russell and his wife Linda maintain the Kempton because they believe the area needs it more today than when it was built more than a century ago. It's a true piece of Montana history and a sense of pride for eastern Montana.

"But when you're here relax. Because this place allows you to go to the museum, go to the art gallery, go over to Prairie Unique and look at the made in Montana..all the unique stuff he has over there. Go across the street to Roy Rogers and have a beer and a pizza or a hamburger. You can relax here on your feet. You don't have to drive across town."

Russell says they're not trying to make the hotel anything more than what it is.

"We're a hundred and twenty-year-old hotel that has its flaws. Old people have wrinkles...old hotels have wrinkles and we expose them. You can see them. When you come to the hotel, understand that you are living history. You're part of it."

Originally published on khq.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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