Voss Inn: Historic Bozeman Home
The Voss Inn was originally constructed as a family residence for Matt W. Alderson and his bride, Martha Elizabeth, in 1883 for $5,000. The architect also drew plans for the famous Broadwater Hotel in Helena. Matt was manager and/or editor of several publications, including the Butte Miner and the Northwest Stockman and Farmer.
Alderson published a pamphlet entitled Bozeman: A Guide to Its Places of Recreation and a Synopsis of Its Superior Natural Advantages, Industries, and Opportunities. In it he described southwestern Montana as “the mountain region (which) offers a greater variety of advantages and fosters more industries than other localities. Its famous gold placers; its silver quartz mines of untold depth; its rich copper, iron and coal deposits; its fertile valleys; its mountains covered with a magnificent growth of stately pines; its boiling springs; its lofty, snowcapped peaks, combine to make a country unequaled on the face of the continent.”
Matt was noted in the mining industry for major accomplishments such as development of the cyanide process of reclaiming metals from abandoned mines and their enormous slag piles. He consulted as far away as Nova Scotia and South America.
Matt and Martha Elizabeth lived only two short years in this house. Martha died in 1885, four days after losing her second baby girl. In despair, Matt moved out forever. The Alderson parlor is so named in honor of Matt and Martha Alderson.
Col. Oliver P. Chisholm, a veteran of the Civil War, purchased the house in 1890. Based on the Sanborne maps, the Chisholms made major additions to the house, including a ballroom, billiard room and servant’s quarters, at least doubling its size. They also added an iron roof railing (widows walk), which was the first of its kind in Bozeman. It can be seen in the 1919 photographs hanging in the northwest corner of the parlor.
The Voss Inn has “endured” several owners and uses since the Chisholms sold it in 1911. It has been a fraternity house and an apartment building. In 1983 the building was purchased by Ken and Ruthmary Tonn with the intent of converting it to a bed and breakfast inn. After much opposition within the community and an unpleasant legal battle, the Tonns won the approval of the City Commission, obtained a grant from the Historical Society to help with the restoration, and opened the doors of Montana’s second bed and breakfast inn-Bozeman’s first-on March 8, 1984.
The Tonns lovingly restored the building and nurtured the Inn through its first five years. Through much hard work and perseverance they established for the Inn a solid reputation within the community as well as within the bed and breakfast industry.
In May 1989, Ken and Ruthmary sold the Inn to Bruce and Frankee Muller. It has been their pleasure to continue the tradition of hospitality and to build on the reputation for excellence established by their predecessors. They have completely redecorated the Alderson Parlor and the Armstrong Room and have replaced many of the less desirable antiques with beautiful ones. Frankee has added an award winning Victorian perennial garden which Matt and Martha surely would have done if they had been able to live and raise their family in this house as the Mullers do. Bruce and Frankee are proud to share the beauty of the Voss Inn with wonderful people from all over the world.