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Steve McEnroe/Journal staff Eleven cast members of HBO's "Deadwood" visited the town of Deadwood in June 2005. In this photo, they pose by wagons pulled up in front of the historic Bullock Hotel. They are joined by some local actors who portray the wild west town's historic characters on the city streets during the tourist season.

Deadwood’s oldest hotel has new ownership.

Spearfish attorney Richard Pluimer, who represented the seller, said Bullock Hospitality of Mitchell took over management of the Bullock Hotel on July 1. He declined to disclose the sale price and the Lawrence County Register of Deeds Office said that information was not yet available.

Bullock Hospitality managing partner Kevin Johnson said that aside from reducing the number of smoking rooms, the group has few plans for immediate changes for the property at 633 Main St.

The investors’ group also owns the Buffalo Bodega complex in Deadwood and the Comfort Inn Gulches of Fun, under the Midwest Motels name.

Pluimer, who handled the sale for the Ken Kellar Estate, said the seller is pleased that a local group purchased the historic hotel.

“From the perspective of the Kellar Estate, we are very pleased that this icon of Deadwood for 115 years is in the hands of an ownership group with substantial commitment to maintaining and improving the integrity of the property, and a group well-versed in high quality hospitality operations,” Pluimer told the Journal in an email.

The sale did not include the rest of what is known as the Historic Bullock Properties: the Deadwood Express, Branch House and Homestake Mansion. Pluimer said the Branch House, which has eight guest rooms, a conference room and a workout room, is under a lease/purchase agreement through April 2013 with Robert and Donald Nelson, proprietors of the Celebrity Hotel.

Ken Kellar was a longtime Deadwood investor who died in December 2009.

The Italianate hotel was built of native sandstone by Seth Bullock, the Deadwood pioneer, sheriff and hardware salesman who was one of the featured characters in the HBO series “Deadwood.”

The hotel was completed in 1896 and was in poor condition when it was purchased in March 1989 by former Deadwood resident and Historic Preservation Commission member Mary Schmit. She said the first floor was in use as a Mexican restaurant and the upper floors were gutted with the roof and most of the windows gone.

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Kellar became a 50/50 partner with Schmit and was a major investor in the complete renovation Schmit undertook in 1990 with help from a historic preservation loan. Schmit sold him her interest in April 1998, recalling that he made her an offer in the middle of a February blizzard that found her on the roof, shoveling 25,000 square feet of snow.

She said her goal was to restore the hotel as close as possible to its original look and include pictures and artifacts that told the story of Seth Bullock.

“Still, 20 years later, you can see the attention to detail in there,” she said.

Johnson said he expects the new event center and casino that opened last week in the former Homestake Mine slime plant will bring a boost to the city’s gambling and hotel numbers, which should benefit the Bullock Hotel.

“We think there will be a little bit of an upswing in Deadwood traffic with the (Deadwood) Mountain Grand opening up,” he said.

Contact Barbara Soderlin at 394-8417 or barbara.soderlin@rapidcityjournal.com.

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