A family from Hawaii is preparing to buy The Chamberlin Inn from Everett “Ev” and Susan Diehl, longtime Cody residents responsible for restoring the historic property at the corner of 12th and Rumsey.
City council members on Tuesday approved transferring The Chamberlin Inn retail liquor license at 1032 12th from Diehl Enterprises to Paniolo Properties of Honolulu.
The Chamberlin Inn is a historic Cody hotel and landmark, known famously as the hotel where Ernest Hemingway stayed and finished writing his manuscript, “Death in the Afternoon.”
The iconic hotel has been in continual operation for 115 years.
Cody’s first dentist, Dr. Mark Chamberlin, and his wife Agnes, a typesetter for Buffalo Bill’s Cody Enterprise, were its first residents.
Agnes Chamberlin opened a newly built boarding house on the current site in 1904. About three years later Mark Chamberlin built a one-story brick dental office next door. In 1910 Park County’s first courthouse was in the brick building adjacent to the Chamberlin Hotel.
Prior to the council vote, Ev Diehl talked about the downtown inn he and his wife Susan bought 14 years ago.
When the Diehls bought the property in 2005, it had been operated as the Pawnee Hotel since 1941. They renamed the hotel as a tribute to Agnes Chamberlin, who hosted the first meeting of the Buffalo Bill Museum at the hotel and was well-known in her day for her involvement in many other community causes.
Stewards of history
From 2005-2008 the Diehls renovated the original hotel, barn, courthouse, garage and courtyard.
“We uncovered just a treasure chest,” Ev Diehl said.
He offered assurance the new owners will continue as excellent caretakers and stewards of the buildings and their contents.
“New ownership intends to continue to preserve and protect the legacy of this historic space for all to enjoy,” reads a Sept. 16 liquor license application letter signed by the Daileys.
Summarizing the advantages a liquor license provides the business, the Daileys wrote: “With the license transfer in place, new ownership would like to expand wedding and event offerings with the potential addition of a specialized conservatory for events ….”
The small boutique hotel has 21 units made up of a series of suites, rooms, cottage and garden studios as well as the Court House Residence, all within a brick and wrought-iron courtyard.
The Chamberlin Cellar was part of a restoration in 2013.
According to agenda documents, the cellar area has details of a classic Italian wine cellar and keeps true to the concept, decor and history of Agnes Chamberlin’s early 1900s parlor and sitting room.
City clerk Cindy Baker said the city will wait to issue the liquor license until proof of sale is provided.
If the property sale does not occur as expected, the transfer will not take place and Diehl Enterprises will retain the retail license.
Ev Diehl said he and his wife plan to retire.
Four members of the Dailey family are stockholders of the limited liability company Paniolo Properties. The liquor license application lists Rebecca Dailey with 40 percent ownership and Michael, Mariah and Devon Dailey, each with 20 percent.
Ev Diehl said as “horse people” and hotel owners in Hawaii, the Daileys identify with the Cody community. “They understand the relationship between Hawaii and Wyoming,” he added, referencing a long history of mutual respect between cowboys from both states.
One such example is when in 1908 three riders from Hawaii came to Wyoming to compete in Frontier Days in Cheyenne – the biggest rodeo in America. Their abilities were said to have stunned spectators unaware of Hawaii’s cattle culture.
Addressing a 2007 lease agreement between the City of Cody and Diehl Enterprises, in separate action the council approved changing the lessee to Paniolo Properties.
The action is also contingent upon the property sale.
A lease agreement was needed because some of the Chamberlin property encroaches on city land – mainly where a brick wall runs east-west along Rumsey.
In some cases, the infringement goes back for almost a century.
The lease agreement, in which the owners agree to prepay $1 per year rent and property taxes, permits the encroachment while preserving city ownership of property.
Baker said the lease is paid in full for 50 years, or until Jan. 1, 2057.