Some disturbed past patrons never checked out.
“Timeless Elegance, Old World Charm, and New World Service”
Designed by William Redding & Son, it is described as being a wonderful combination of “Italian Renaissance-style with Spanish Revival features.” The Italian influence can be seen in its four corner towers, paired tall narrowed windows, and bracketed cornices. The Spanish influence can be seen in the hotel’s iron railings on the large east side porches, arched fourth floor windows, and curvilinear gables.
The historic part of the Hotel Boulderado has 42 rooms. The rest of the 118 rooms are located in the addition to the hotel. All are decorated in the spirit of the original hotel, with early 1900 decor, planned by a restorer of furniture.
Wow! Tom and I were blown away, with our visit to Hotel Boulderado. It was like stepping back in time, experiencing Boulders first comfortable, upscale hotel, aimed at impressing people who could help Boulder grow. It has been beautifully restored, looking very much like it did when it first opened its doors. It is rustic, antique-filled, but very chic.
We entered the five story, sandstone and brick edifice; The Hotel Boulderado, a rectangular building taking at least a half of a block. It has a large, immense, expansive white-pillared lobby with a glorious stained-glass canopy ceiling as the crowning jewel. It goes so well with its stunning cherry woodwork, tile and other historic decor.
The mosaic tile floor that covers the entry way, the lobby and the Q’s restaurant fine dining room is over 100 years old. Equally old is the original Otis Elevator, that is still operated by an attendant.
The original “cantilevered” cherrywood staircase starts in the basement speakeasy-style bar, License No. 1, and goes all the way up to the fifth floor. The glorious balcony, located on the stairway that leads to the hotel’s second floor , open mezzanine, is popular spot for weddings, as it overlooks the lobby and first floor.
“Every guest may expect the best and get it.”
The history of the Boulderado Hotel began in 1905, when the Boulder City Council wanted to have a first class hotel to accommodate business people and the investors interested in promoting growth in their city. So, community stock subscriptions were sold at 100 dollars a share, which raised enough money to build the Hotel Boulderado. The formed company, Boulder Hotel Company owned Hotel Boulderado until 1939.
Its large blocks of orange and red sandstone were provided by The Colorado Red Sandstone Company of Fort Collins. Thompson Pressed Brickworks, that was located on land that is now part of the U of C campus, provided thousands of red bricks. Its leaded glass canopied ceiling was carefully put together from imported Italian cathedral glass.
To provide every comfort for the guest, all bedrooms had lighting that was fitted for both gas and electricity. There was a huge coal furnace that was attended to 24 hours a day to provide hot water and an evenly heated environment.
The Hotel Boulderado opened for business on January 1st, of 1909, after having a Gala Ball on December 31st, 1908. Things went rolling along, and the hotel was well-occupied. By the teens, things became a bit shaky economicly, due to WWI. By the 1920s the hotel had recovered and had a prosperous ten years until the Great Depression hit America, cutting down on the number of travelers with the funds to stay here.
Famous guests include Louis Armstrong, Hellen Keller, Ethel Barrymore, and Douglas Fairbanks.
But Hotel Boulderado found ways to hold on through the 30s and through WWII, probably becoming more affordable as they appealed to average to above average travelers as well. Perhaps they started to rent certain rooms on a weekly or monthly basis, like many big hotels in America have done to bring in money needed.
One very popular place was the basement bar, called the catacombs. Area businessmen and locals loved to party and drink here. It was a strong money maker. Their restaurant also was a popular place for a nice dinner
After the war, the new owners wanted a more modern hotel, and so Hotel Boulderado went through what is called a “post war modernization”. Uh oh, this doesn’t sound too good. Luckily, the cherry woodwork wasn’t painted, and its craftsmen treasures remained. On the positive side, they probably upgraded the rooms and bathrooms, and other areas to please their guests in this era.
By the late 1950s, despite efforts to improve things, this once upscale hotel was looking a little worn and funky, though she still had an air about her and many friends in Boulder. In 1959, a heavy snow storm broke some of the stained-glass canopy ceiling. Instead of making costly repairs, all of the ceiling was taken down unfortunately. It was replaced with red, white and blue plexi-glass. Oh my, what a lowering of standards!
From 1960-1975, Hotel Boulderado was looking a little shop-worn, but she had good bones, a lot of her lovely qualities left and lots of admirers. Owners all did their best to improve the hotel, though it became clear that a major restoration was needed.
Up until 1963, the Spruce St. entrance to the hotel had a stately brick portico over its entrance. Historically, two storefronts were located on either side of this entrance, catering to the various guests’ needs. Such businesses that occupied these prime spots were clothing shops, a barber, Western Union, and even Boulder’s Chamber of Commerce. The space west side of the entrance was converted to a lovely function room for meetings, and events, and the space east side of entrance is now the popular Corner Bar.
There are two large spaces on either side of the main entrance, off the lobby. The uses for these areas changed to meet the needs of their patrons. The present day Emporium Gift Shop on the left originally was the ladies’ writing room and parlor; a place to relax before dinner. On the right is the present day upscale Q’s restaurant. In the beginning years, it was the formal dining room. In the 1950s, it was a informal coffee shop that had both a soda fountain and offered prime rib dinners for $1.75.
During 1976, the city of Boulder was sprucing up its historic downtown buildings and creating its fabulous Pearl Street Mall. The city council wanted to tear down the Hotel Boulderado because they said that it lacked safety features like sprinklers and was a bit dowdy looking. While the city council planners were hoping to make room for a new structure, four friends of Hotel Boulderado stopped this plan by buying this hotel. They financed and installed the needed sprinklers throughout the hotel.
They also got Hotel Boulderado building protection from itchy fingered city developers by getting this treasure on the Colorado Landmark list, and later the National Registrar of Historic Places. They began the long process of restoring this grand old Dame of Boulder, starting with the plans to replace the plexi-glass ceiling. A newly designed mosaic ceiling that brings back the warmth and feel of the 1905 ceiling, costing 65,000 dollars, was completed in 2004.
In 1980, a new owner, Frank Day, took over and began to seriously restore this grand old hotel to its former glory, starting with turning the cafe back into a formal restaurant, Winston’s Seafood Restaurant. He hired a furniture restoration expert, Laurel McKown, who also worked on restoring and turning back the clock on the Hotel Boulderado’s decor, to its former glory.
Hotel Boulderado now has a revenue stream that once more keeps up with the expenses and upkeep for this historical property, as well as making a prophet. They continue to make improvements, appreciated by both their living guests and their spirit people residents as well. Hotel Boulderado is once more an asset to the city of Boulder.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
The original rooms that were numbered 302 and 304, in the older part of the hotel have been reported to have spirits still staying in these rooms and on the third floor hallways as well. Activity on the top floor of the old section also seems to be active. The reader may wonder why?
Hotels seem to draw suicidal people, because hotels are big and offer a level of privacy in which to do the deed of self-destruction; thinking that doing so will give them peace. This often doesn’t result in peace, and they find themselves in spirit form, feeling the same feelings, and stuck in the place where they killed themselves because of these feelings .
There were three suicides, and one attempted suicide: One person shot himself or herself on the fire escape. Another person shot himself or herself, probably in their room.
One down on his luck resident guest in 1924, killed himself, using chloroform, while his wife was taking a bath. His wife tried to follow his example, but failed because there wasn’t enough of it left to kill her. The staff found her and took her to the hospital, where she may have been sent to the local Insane Asylum for treatment, that often turned out to be worse for the patient than the mental illness.
Sometimes when people enjoy a favorite hotel or vacation spot, they often like to try to spend their after-life here as well, especially if they had a lot of good memories of their stay or living life in their quarters. When a hotel is restored to its former glory, it can act like an environmental trigger, and bring these former living patrons back for a visit.
If they happen to die there, they may tend to want to stay and get their money’s worth, or just continue enjoying their space.
Many people loved to come and stay at the Hotel Boulderado. Several deaths occurred at the Hotel Boulderado over the years, due to natural causes.
A Female Apparition
Seen wearing a white dress. Her see-through form has been seen recently, traipsing around the hallways of the top floor of the Hotel Boulderado, a place where the most expensive suites were located, because of the view.
Something unseen likes to play with the lights, and turn the TV on and off.
Rooms 302 & 304
Both of the 3rd floor rooms, once numbered 302 and 304, have been spirit-occupied for many years.
For years, guests have reported to staff of seeing “indistinct, white human-shaped apparitions. Guests have heard disembodied voices.
A Bad Feeling
One Native American medicine man refused to enter one of the rooms, because he sensed something in spirit form on the other side of the door.
Probably so. It is possible that the stuck spirits who suicided were helped onto the other side by a priest or a medium, but no one has said so.
The female spirit seen on the top floor is probably still enjoying the view and her memories. Chances are that she has other spirits there keeping her company, perhaps keeping a low profile, not wanting contact; just want to enjoy the hotel and their great times they experienced here.
Though no hard evidence or EVPS have been revealed publicly on-line; except the one EVP mentioned above, many people throughout the years, especially housekeeping staff, have had experiences with these spirits.
Presently, the original haunted rooms may be used for staff or work rooms, instead of a room for a guest. That way, the staff can deal with the spirits better than a paying guest would be able to. Or perhaps these rooms aren’t rented to the public anymore. I couldn’t find any recent experiences of people who have stayed in these rooms.
For many years, both guests and staff have had experiences with the spirits mentioned above.
The Boulder County Paranormal Research Society conducted an investigation on October 30th, 2007. While they couldn’t get much evidence on their equipment, or responses on their ghost box, and other gadgets, they did catch one EVP advising a female investigator, “Be careful,” coming from a spirit who was perhaps concerned about her tripping down the stairs in the dark.
They tried to catch evidence in rooms 302 and 304 but came up empty handed. There is an explanation why. From other sources, these two rooms for years were either used for a work room for the preservationist, or were the very last rooms to be rented.
When the restoration process began, the rooms in the old section were all given new numbers. I noticed that on a video tour of the third floor, there is an office or two, which may have been one of the haunted rooms. Perhaps, the investigators were not really investigating in the haunted rooms, but other rooms that were given the numbers 302 and 304.
The Hotel Boulderado seems to respect the privacy of their spirit people, as they do their guests. These spirit people are not on the Hotel Boulderado’s payroll to entertain the living, but are technically still guests or residents of the hotel. They don’t bother anyone, so the management leaves them alone.
2115 13th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302
Hotel Boulderado is located near the heart of the historic, restored section of Boulder, at the corner of 13th and Spruce St. It is just a two minute walk from the Pearl Street Mall, an upscale shopping and dining area, in the restored and renovated historic Boulder buildings. It is also a 14 minute walk from The University of Colorado.
- bouldercountyparanormal.org (pdf)
- The Hotel Boulderado page on Wikipedia
- Wikipedia Page – National Register of Historic Places listings in Boulder County, Colorado
- “The Boulderado a favorite haunt” by Jessica Barraco, for The Denver Post, retrieved July 25, 2018
- Hotel Boulderado page on Historical Hotels of America website
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado Walking Tour (#1 of 2)
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado Walking Tour (#2 of 2)
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History Luncheon, featuring Frank Day
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History Luncheon, featuring Laurel McKown
- Antique furniture restoration – Took 42 years to complete. Historical preservation.
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History Luncheon, featuring Dan Corson
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History: Don Corson account of Hotel Boulderado being named an Historic Landmark
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History: Dick Dorman (owner from 1976-1980) account of restoring the stained-glass ceiling in the lobby; the catacombs; the restaurant bar in the basement
- Youtube video of Hotel Boulderado History Luncheon, featuring Sid Anderson (Manager for 30 years)