Charles Hamilton was running concessions in Yellowstone National Park in 1915, and his firm, the Hamilton Stores, were a presence in the Park for the next 88 years. The first permanent structure built under his supervision was the Lake General Store, opening in 1922. (The Old Faithful Hamilton Store opened in 1897, but it was not built by Hamilton, who bought it in 1915.) Over the years age and the uncompromising Yellowstone climate had taken its toll on the building, and it was clear dramatic action would be needed to reverse the tide.
Closing early in the 2009 season, the Lake General Store was stripped of all fixtures, including the historic chandelier and the 1938 soda fountain, and rebuilt. The foundation was replaced, while the roof and walls were both reinforced and spiffed up with new shingles and siding. The maple floor, warping badly, was replaced with a new floor. New energy-efficient equipment was installed. All renovations were done to sustainability standards.
And the soda fountain, for the most part, was reinstalled. The distinctive stools are back, but there’s a new countertop, new pine paneling and new seating, including a cozy alcove.
The exterior sports the aforementioned new siding, while the entrance area now features better access, including a handicapped-access ramp and pavers.