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Yellowstone seeks to replace windows on historic hotel

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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – A proposal to replace 172 windows of an iconic hotel in Yellowstone National Park has preservationists worried about the potential harm to the building’s historic character, a concern acknowledged by park planners.

The window swap, which will help the property better withstand earthquakes, is just one part of a building rehabilitation project for the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Other proposed upgrades include redoing floor plans and interior finishes, replacing hot water and electrical systems and adding insulation and new fire detection and suppression systems.

But it’s the updates to the Mammoth Hotel’s windows that drew the concern of the Wyoming Historic Preservation Office, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.

“We agree that the historic Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone National Park will be adversely impacted,” Wyoming historic preservation architect Linda Kiisk wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to the park. “We recommend that [Yellowstone] develop a memorandum of agreement specifying the terms under which the adverse effects to the historic property will be minimized and mitigated.”

National Park Service officials publicized the Historic Preservation Office’s determination in a press release issued Friday. The public is being asked to brainstorm “potential mitigations to resolve this adverse effect,” according to the press release.

Comments are due Feb. 16.

The Mammoth Hotel dates to 1913 and was added onto in 1937. The rehabilitation work targets the 105-year-old four-story “guest room wing,” which does not meet current seismic standards and is in danger of collapse in the event of an earthquake, park documents say.

The window part of the project would replace 172 one-over-one, double-hung wooden windows with new wood windows that imitate the same style.

Yellowstone planners say the windows will not only hold up better during an earthquake, but they will also improve room ventilation and energy efficiency. Heating the building with the existing windows requires nearly 950 million BTUs (British thermal units) an hour, an engineer’s assessment found. The new wood windows would slash that energy in half—to about 480 million BTUs an hour.

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