Monday, April 22, 2013

Rex Bar

A twist of fate landed sixteen-year-old German immigrant Alfred Heimer a job with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in 1894. Although the irascible Colonel Cody fired young Heimer three times during that first day, the youth remained as steward of Cody’s private railway car until 1903, developing a close friendship with the famous frontiersman. The genial Heimer then settled in Billings. He built the Rex Bar around 1909. It served such colorful patrons as his friends Buffalo Bill and Will James. Early advertisements extolled Heimer’s German lunches and promised the “Best Beer in Town.” In 1917, addition of the third floor converted Heimer’s “nice furnished rooms” into a classy hotel which hosted many dignitaries including the great Crow chief, Plenty Coups, who stayed there in 1921 en route to Washington, D.C. Under new proprietors the Rex flourished during Prohibition; the bar simply went under cover.

Photo courtesy Montana State Historic Preservation Office
The hotel closed in 1974 and narrowly escaped demolition. Award-winning rehabilitation has restored the Rex to its former glory where the hospitality first offered by Alfred Heimer is again a Billings tradition.

P.S. Put the Little Cowboy Bar in Fromberg on your bucket list, while you're at it.

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