Close to Deadwood but a world away; Lead is quieter than her neighbor, but just as fascinating. Visitors to the Black Hills looking for a unique place to stay while they discover the depths of Lead’s history should look no further than the historic Town Hall Inn.
The Town Hall Inn started its life as the town hall for the city of Lead. It was built in 1912 and included all the functions a small town needed at the time. The mayor’s offices and his staff were on the main floor, with a library, judge’s chamber and jury deliberation room on the second. The town jail resided in the basement, complete with barred windows and a gallows out back.
The building’s time as the town hall would be relatively short lived. In 1938, Lead built a new town hall, and sold the old one to the Homestake Mine. The Homestake Mine was the longest-running and deepest mine in history, and it would occupy the building for its administration offices for almost 50 years. When you stay at the inn today, rooms facing north have a superb view down into the open pit mine just across the street.
The Homestake Mine sold the property in the late 1980s to a family that began its journey as an inn. Over the years they made updates to many of the rooms, including the kitchenettes and bathrooms. They built the Town Hall Inn’s reputation as a friendly and welcoming place to stay when visiting Lead or Deadwood.
In 2013, the fate of the Town Hall Inn changed again, when current owners Mark and Paul McGrane took over ownership. Mark, who actively manages the inn, says, “we were just looking for something to do together, found this place and saw the potential.” They’ve done their best to return the inn to the feel of the original building, including the furniture and decor.
The McGranes’ historic touches to the property start when you book your room online. The room listings are named in accordance with what their original purpose was, such as the “Engineer’s Office” or the “Jury Room.” Once you’ve arrived at the inn, the front entrance immediately transports you back to the early days of Lead’s history. The entryway boasts inviting arm chairs and antiques, while a polished wood bannister leads up the staircase to the second floor. In each guest room, tall ceilings and picture windows make the rooms feel light and airy, with the original transom lettering on each room indicating the original occupant. They heat the entire inn with the steam heating system that was installed in 1912, which keeps guests toasty warm through Lead’s notoriously snowy winters.
It isn’t just the rooms that are welcoming at the Town Hall Inn; Mark, his wife Jade, and the staff enjoy meeting all their guests. The inn offers a light breakfast in the morning, and every adult that stays gets a free beer at the new brewery downstairs, which is named Jailhouse Taps. The tap room does not have the original jail cells, but the McGranes enlisted local artists to paint the interior with murals of jailhouse residents and mining scenes. There is a patio along the side of the building where you can enjoy the sun with an excellent beer, Lead weather permitting!
Mark says his favorite part is when they have visitors come to stay who worked for the Homestake Mine when the building housed their offices. “We’ve had people come in who used to work here, or come here to get their paycheck. We even had one lady who came through and showed us where her office was, where she would hang her coat, everything. It’s cool to be a part of that history of the town, and of the Homestake Mine.”
Jade echoes his sentiment: “When people are sipping their coffee in the morning, we’ll talk and I get to learn all kinds of life stories. We’ll have people come back year after year, and it’s a ton of fun.”
To can find more information about the Town Hall Inn and see their availability click here.
WORDS: ASHLEY JOHNSON
PHOTO: JESSE BROWN NELSON