On the night stand next to the quilt-covered double bed in the honeymoon suite of the newly renovated Lehi Hotel is an antique copy of a geography textbook.
But Carl Mellor doesn't appear too worried about dog-eared pages on the brittle paper. It's not likely guests will be reading much in the bride's room, which is decorated with a charming display of old lacy wedding dresses and a wooden dowry chest.Mellor, a Lehi historian and member of the town's council, has spent $400,000 in the past year to restore a 111-year-old Main Street hotel that was built when the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad connected Denver and Salt Lake City.
"Railroad hotels were built to take care of railroad crews and passengers," said Mellor, conducting a tour of the cozy 13-room historic bed and breakfast at 394 W. Main. "When the railroad came into town, the first thing they would do is build a hotel."
More than 1,000 hotels exactly like Mellor's were built near whistle-stop stations in small Western towns during the mid-1800s.
"You can count on one hand how many still exist," he said. "We've got one right here."
The adobe building with a wide porch and inviting parlor was built in 1887 on the site of Lehi's first blacksmith shop by Sarah Ann Smith, a schoolteacher and plural wife of an early settler. The cellar and foundation of the blacksmith's place is still intact.
Mellor, who delights in sharing yarns about the hotel's lore, is sure gunslinger Porter Rockwell visited the farrier's establishment during the years of pioneers, polygamy and prescription liquor. Rockwell, one of the city's most notorious citizens, died about 15 years before the hotel was built.
Traveling salesmen, regarded as carousing scoundrels by the townsfolk, would hawk their wares in the parlors. Women who wanted to stay - yet maintain their reputation - would not enter through the side doors near the salesmen's rooms, he said.
"When we took the paint off the front doors, we found that it said `ladies only,' " Mellor said. "We wondered what type of establishment they were running. Then a historian told us, no, that was to preserve the integrity of the women. They only would come in through the front doors."
Since the foundation was laid, the Lehi Hotel has welcomed a variety of tenants. A saloon opened up at the hotel in 1891. Lehi's dentist moved his practice into the building in 1896.
It was used as an inn for several decades and then purchased as a residence for several years after 1929. Mellor, using his life savings, purchased the crumbling building in April 1997.
One of the upstairs bedrooms is named after Rockwell. Another is named for the Pony Express. A large room downstairs is dedicated to David and Israel Evans, Lehi's founding fathers. In fact, all the rooms and halls feature prominent people or events in Lehi's history.
Staying true to the historic bent of the hotel, the bedrooms, the majority of which are furnished with two or more beds, are decorated simply. Few pictures hang on the white-painted walls, hardwood floors polished to a dull shine and hand-crafted quilts thrown over beds with brass headboards.
No televisions. No telephones. And a few rooms even share a water closet. It's luxury - "Little House on the Prairie" style.
Overnight accommodations for up to 60 people are available. Mellor hopes the hotel will be a popular spot for family reunions and wedding receptions.