In 1966, George Washington of Billings, Montana, was the acting Vice President of Burlington Northern Oil and Gas Division. Being an active member of the Billings community, he knew that the city was becoming a medical hub for patients coming to the Mayo Clinic. Accommodations in town were meager at best, so George saw his calling to create a hospitable place for the town’s guests to stay. Being true to his namesake, the Honorable Father of Our Country, President George Washington, the local Mr. Washington sent for building plans from the East Coast to construct a true Mt. Vernon-style hotel rich with all the comforts of home.
Another notable society member in Billings was F. Gordon Kirby, who in 1953 worked as the Regional manager of Murphy Oil Corporation. The Billings community’s success was important to Mr. Kirby, thus prompting him to become one of the founders of the Petroleum Club, where he befriended Mr. Washington. Over the years the two became fast friends, but when Murphy Oil decided to move its office to Canada, F Gordon Kirby found it necessary to move his family there, as well. His love for Montana brought him and his family back for visits often.
During one of those visits, George told his friend Gordon that he was ready to sell the hotel, and after some consideration, Mr. Kirby decided to take the plunge. The year was 1971. For nearly 50 years, Cherry Tree Inn has been a local, family-owned and operated establishment, and has continued George Washington’s vision of providing safe, comfortable lodging for travelers and patients alike.