First named the Metropolitan, the two-story hotel was built by George Fitzgerald in anticipation of a frontier boom when the Marquis de Morès (Antoine de Vallombrosa, a pretender to the French throne) built his meat-packing plant, started a stagecoach line, and opened several other businesses. In 1903 the name was changed to the Rough Riders Hotel in honor of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and their service in the Spanish-American War. That same year Roosevelt returned to his beloved Badlands and was the first U.S. president to visit Medora. Throughout the years, nearly every visitor to historic Medora stayed in the hotel. In 1963, Harold Schafer and his Gold Seal Company began renovating the hotel, and reopened it in 1965, with a restaurant on the main level and hotel rooms above. Since 1986 the Rough Riders Hotel (and most other property in the town) has been owned and operated by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation (TRMF), the nonprofit organization Schafer founded when he sold the Gold Seal Company. A substantially enlarged resort hotel and conference center connected to the historic Rough Riders opened in 2010. Though presenting a somewhat Disneyesque vision of history, the false fronts on parts of the expansion attempt to match the western theme of the town. But all in all, the effect of playing fast and loose with history produces an architecturally disappointing result in this instance.
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Rough Riders Hotel
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