Construction on the Alex Johnson Hotel, one of Rapid City's grandest landmarks, began in August 1927, one day before workers began carving the granite faces on Mount Rushmore. On July 1, 1928, the hotel's first guest to sign the register was Paddy O'Neil. The first-floor tavern is named in his honor.
Alex Carlton Johnson, vice president of the Chicago & North Western Railway, wanted to build "The Showplace of the West." He did. The building reflects both Native American culture and the Germanic Tudor architecture of South Dakota's German immigrants. The Alex, as the locals affectionately call it, has hosted presidents, politicians, movie stars, rock stars, honeymooners and tourists. During the carving of Rushmore, sculptor Gutzon Borglum could often be seen sitting by the fireplace in the lobby. If you get a chance, check out the elegantly restored lobby.