History

Alex Johnson, Vice President of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, was founder of this grand hotel that bears his name. An admirer of Native Americans, he spoke of a shrine and tribute to the Sioux Indian Nation.

The structural design is a successful blend of two spirits: the heritage of the Plains Indians and the Germanic Tudor architecture representing German immigration to the Dakotas.


A Historic Hotel

In 1927 construction began on the hotel the day before work began on Mount Rushmore. Less than a year later, on July 1, 1928, the first guest registered to begin a long successive line of Presidents, celebrities and happy visitors to The Hotel Alex Johnson. The walking tour that has been developed in Downtown Rapid City will take you over the same paths that thousands have taken through the years.

historic exterior shotAs you learn more about its rich past, you will begin to understand why Hotel Alex Johnson is among the historic hotels of America and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Hotel Alex Johnson has also been a member of NTA since 1981, a member of Association of Historic Hotels of the Rockies and a recipient of the First Governor’s Great Service Award and Governor’s Service Star.

Native American Influence

Alex Carlton Johnson set out to build a grand hotel, “The Showplace of the West”, and a tribute to the Native Americans of the area in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Alex Carlton Johnson’s involvement with the railroad, his love of the Native American culture of the Lakota Sioux located here in the Black Hills and the western history involved in the South Dakota heritage all are reflected in the architecture and the memories surrounding this hotel.

lobbyAs you walk into the Lobby, look down and you’ll notice the bricks you step on are all original. Look even closer and you will notice that some have Native American symbols imbedded in them. Although it looks suspiciously similar to a Swastika, it’s actually an ancient symbol that means the “four sacred corners of the earth” and was adopted by the Native Americans a couple hundred years ago. That same symbol is found in many places throughout The Hotel Alex Johnson and is reflected in the one of a kind chandelier, made of war spears, that has hung from the decorative rafters for over 80 years.

Historic Preservation

From the Native American symbols and original art work on display in the lobby designs and the guest rooms and hallways, to the archival display of railroad artifacts and photographs of celebrities, movie casts, politicians and Presidents who made the Alex their “home away from home” just enhance the rich history of this grand hotel.

Restoration of the hotel based on original photographs and plans has returned the hotel’s surroundings to those of the 20s, from the guest rooms to the ballroom to the restaurant and lobby, all displaying her past for those to be a part of today. Enjoy the rich history of The Hotel Alex Johnson as you step through the doors from the modern world into a narration of the past.