GREAT FALLS — The O’Haire Motor Inn in downtown Great Falls will be undergoing some big changes in the coming months. Owner Sandra Johnson is overseeing the building’s “retrovation" - a fancy way of saying renovation but with a unique twist.
Instead of updating the Inn with the newest amenities, O’Haire is doubling down on its vintage style by reverting back to its original design. The retro aspect will include new carpet for the interior and metalwork on the exterior which will look exactly as it did when the Inn first opened in 1962.
The colorful sign from decades past will be brought back, but instead of a diver, the large sign will include a mermaid.
“We’ll have a brand new sign that will look almost identical to what it was,” says Johnson, “only with the addition of a mermaid, so it’s kind of what it was, but also encompassing who we are now.”
The mermaids were not an original feature of the Sip N’ Dip Lounge. They were added as a feature to the tiki-themed bar in 1996.
In fact, the Sip 'N Dip Lounge wasn’t initially a tiki bar, but rather an Art Deco Bar. The tiki ambiance came about a few years after the Inn opened. For those who love coconuts, tropical cocktails, and paper umbrellas, fear not, the renovations do not include the world-famous attraction.
“The Sip ’N Dip will stay the same,” says Johnson, “Everybody loves the Sip 'N Dip, we wouldn’t change it.”
Renovations are being overseen by Dick Olson Constructors; the Project is planned to span about three months, with exterior designs finished around December.
The interior changes, including new carpets and linens, may not finish until early-on into 2023.
In the meantime, guests can still enjoy the Inn and its features.
“Everything is still open, Clark & Lewie’s restaurant is still open, the Sip 'N Dip is still open, the hotel is still open, so come in, see what we’re doing day-by-day,” Johnson says.
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