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The Vault to launch in mid-September

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette - The former vault most recently used by Wells Fargo is seen in a first-floor room at The Vault in Houghton. The boutique hotel will open in mid-September.

HOUGHTON — The Vault is about to be opened.

The 17-room boutique hotel in downtown Houghton will have its first guests in the second week of September, its owners said Tuesday during a media tour.

When former owners Wells Fargo announced they were moving, Vault co-owners Jonathan and Jennifer Julien contacted the real-estate owners.

“We weren’t totally certain what the use would be, we just knew we wanted to try to save this building and put it into some kind of adaptive reuse,” Jonathan said.

This is the first time in the building’s nearly 140-year history that its primary use will not be as a bank. Constructed as Houghton National Bank in 1880, it was most recently a Wells Fargo until the downtown branch closed. Parking will be available at the former Wells Fargo lot across the street.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette - Jonathan Julien and Jennifer Julien, co-owners of The Vault, talk about the new boutique hotel in a third-floor room Tuesday. The 17-room hotel is scheduled to open in mid-September.

The name, theme and architectural touches highlight the building’s history.

The check-in station is a replica of teller stations used in the bank. The floor tile in the entry way is a replica of the original tiling, which had been covered up in a remodel.

A room on the first floor contains the former bank vault, which now serves as a sitting room. Inside are two large chairs and lamps, providing a space for comfortable conversation.

The first floor is decorated in an “old money” theme. The second floor is built around more extravagant new money. The third, “found money,” has blacks and white decor, and was designed with a mysterious air.

“It’s like that person who has all those really expensive art pieces in their house that looked like they were actually stolen from a museum, and you’re not sure how they got there,” Jennifer said.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette - Jonathan Julien, co-owner of The Vault, stands by an elevator on the second floor. The dial on the logo indicates each floor.

Unlike a typical franchise hotel, the rooms have multiple windows, going 13 feet from the floor to the ceiling.

“Even the rooms facing (south), you have all the historic downtown buildings, you get to see them from levels you’ve never seen them before when you’re walking down the sidewalk,” Jennifer said.

Rates on average nights range from $189 to $289. The week so far has been spent training the staff of about 15 people.

“We can do so much in building a great hotel, but, at the end of the day, it’s our frontline staff that have to treat our guests in a way that they feel like they’re getting a ton of value for their dollar,” he said.

The Juliens adopted ideas from boutique hotels in other areas they have stayed. A Boise, Idaho, hotel offered a pantry stocked with complimentary snacks, water and soda.

“We want our guests to really feel like they’re comfortable here and that this is their new home,” Jennifer said.

Entertainers and visiting groups have already booked rooms at the hotel, Jonathan said. The hotel is already booked through most of the next two months.

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