“In the 20s and 30s, the Chamberlin Inn was the place to stay in Cody,” says current owner Ev Diehl.
Agnes Chamberlin opened a simple boarding house in 1903 and with her husband’s help began adding to it over the years. Hemingway stayed here in 1932, just after he had completed the manuscript for Death in the Afternoon. In between fishing trips on the Clark’s Fork River, he mailed the manuscript to his publisher.
While the inn has been in continuous operation since 1903, by the 1980s and 1990s it had lost much of its luster. In 2005, longtime locals Ev and Susan Diehl bought it and launched a complete renovation. They took the claw foot tubs that could be salvaged and sent them up to Billings to be re-enameled. They pulled the original steam radiators out of all of the rooms and sandblasted “about 30 coats of paint” off them, says Ev, before re-installing them. They pulled fake paneling off of walls and demolished dropped ceilings. They chipped off plaster applied over original brick walls.
The Diehls are the first ones to point out that they remodeled the place rather than renovated it.
“We kept as much of the original stuff as we could, but before the interior was all heads and horns,” Ev says. “I had spent eight years at the [Buffalo Bill Center of the West] and was tired of that look. We went with an Art Nouveau theme instead, which was a look at that time.”
The Chamberlin has 21 rooms in three different historic buildings. The public lounge, Chamberlin Spirits, serves wine and cocktails.
“We encourage anyone to stop in,” Ev says. “We love giving tours. If rooms aren’t occupied, we leave all of the doors open.” 1032 12th St., 307/587-0202, chamberlininn.com.
This is excerpted from On the Road Yellowstone by Dina Mishev, in partnership with National Park Trips and Lyons Press.