From the Wort Hotel to the Standard: Wyoming Teaches NYC

I ran across a post on an obsessive diy project that's right up my alley -- here -- I adore copper, I adore penny tiles, and I'm pretty sure I like this too:

It's in the Standard Grill at the Standard Hotel in NYC ... and though I definitely applaud the ingenuity of the designers, I feel compelled to point out a certain precedent dear to my heart: the Silver Dollar Bar, of the unfortunately named Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Why trade in copper when you can have sterling?

Long ago, my Grandma and Grandpa Heywood owned the Wort, and its loss is a sad chapter in our family history. My father's childhood is laced with Jackson, where the family summered beginning sometime in the early 1950s. There, they rode, fished and hunted, and it was still quite a wild place -- cowboys and indians and all that -- which was great for everyone but my grandmother. In any event, by the early 1960s she had had her fill of cabins and mosquitoes and gutting fish. So they bought the best hotel in town:

Great idea, right? And in kodachrome:

Kinda vaguely reminiscent of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, no? This is in the distance:

To my grandmother's great delight, there was still a casino in the Teton Room (known locally as the Snake Pit), full of her favorite vice, slot machines. Unfortunately, these had to be secreted out in the dead of night -- gambling was of course illegal and my grandfather was not interested in trouble with the law. But I wish he'd kept one. Here they are in place:

When they bought the hotel, it was still owned by the founding family, and the Worts offered my grandparents another property -- somewhere between 400 and 600 acres of land in Jackson, one of the few parcels not already a national park. They wanted $1000 an acre. This would literally be worth hundreds of millions of dollars today. Sigh. It's now the Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club:

Then in the early 1980s there was a huge fire, and the entire second floor was destroyed. One of my grandfather's favorite tall tales involved the number of coins in the Silver Dollar Bar -- sometimes it was 5 thousand, sometimes 10 thousand -- which were removed to a bank vault for safe keeping. The entire counter, black lacquer and all. (There are actually only 2032 coins.) In any event, tales aside, the fire was a disaster. My grandfather felt a responsibility to the town to rebuild, which he did, but at financial peril that forced the family to sell shortly after restoration.

Long story short -- when I decide to deface currency for flooring, I think I'll go with silver dollars. The real ones. And did I mention the entire facade of the Silver Dollar Bar is upholstered in cow hide? It's actually amazing. More to come.

I'll close with an image of one of my favorite things in Jackson when I was a kid:

Elk horns, naturally shed and collected by boy scouts each year ... though I'm not sure if they still do this. I know there was controversy over whether the antlers should instead be sold to the Japanese for an insane amount of money, as they use them in medicine. I hope not. I love this arch.

Reminds me of this.


Daniel-Halifax said...

i love stories like this!
and i agree with you on the silver dollar, the pennies look rather unsanitary..

Anonymous said...

I'd love to make a floor full of pennies. That would be the coolest floor around.

-Zane of ontario honey

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