Some disturbed past patrons have never checked out.
“Timeless Elegance, Old World Charm, and New World Service”
Designed by William Redding & Son, the Hotel Boulderado 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 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 the Hotel Boulderado. It was like stepping back in time, experiencing Boulders first upscale hotel, meant to impress the kind of 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.
The five-story sandstone and brick edifice is rectangular and takes up at least half a block. It has an 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 and historic decor.
The mosaic tile floor covers the entryway and the lobby. The Q’s restaurant dining room is over 100 years old. Equally old is the original Otis Elevator, which 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 and open mezzanine, is a 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 a first-class hotel to accommodate business people and the investors interested in promoting growth in their city. 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 the hotel until 1939.
Its large blocks of orange and red sandstone were provided by The Colorado Red Sandstone Company of Fort Collins. Thompson Pressed Brickworks, located on land that is now part of the University of Colorado campus, provided thousands of red bricks. The hotel’s 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. A huge coal furnace attended 24 hours a day provided hot water and an evenly heated environment.
The hotel opened for business on January 1st, of 1909, after a Gala Ball on December 31st, 1908. Things rolled along, and the hotel was well-occupied. By the teens, matters became a bit shaky economically due to WWI. By the 1920s the hotel had recovered and had a prosperous ten years, until the Great Depression hit, cutting down on the number of travelers and guests.
Famous visitors included Louis Armstrong, Hellen Keller, Ethel Barrymore, and Douglas Fairbanks.
But Hotel Boulderado found ways to hold on through the ’30s and then into WWII, probably by becoming more affordable, appealing to average- to-above-average travelers. Perhaps they started renting certain rooms on a weekly or monthly basis, as many big hotels in America have done when business was tight.
One very popular place was the basement bar, called the catacombs. Area businessmen and locals loved to party and drink there. It was a strong money maker. Their restaurant was also a popular place for a nice dinner
After the war, 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 crafted treasures remained. On the positive side, the hotel’s management probably upgraded the rooms, bathrooms, and other areas to please 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 plexiglass. 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 still intact and lots of admirers. Owners did their best to improve her, though it became clear that a major restoration was needed.
Up until 1963, the Spruce Street entrance had a stately brick portico overhead. Two storefronts were located on either side of this, catering to various guests’ needs. Businesses occupying these prime spots included clothing shops, a barber, a Western Union, and even Boulder’s Chamber of Commerce. The west side of the entrance was converted to a lovely function room for meetings and events, and the east side became the popular Corner Bar.
There are two large spaces on either side of the main entrance, off the lobby. Their uses for these areas changed to meet the needs of patrons. The present day Emporium Gift Shop on the left was originally 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, it was the formal dining room. In the 1950s, it was an informal coffee shop with a soda fountain. They also offered prime rib dinners for $1.75.
In 1976, the city of Boulder spruced up its historic downtown buildings and created its fabulous Pearl Street Mall. The city council wanted to tear down the Hotel Boulderado because they said it lacked safety features like sprinklers, and was a bit dowdy looking. While planners were hoping to make room for a new structure, four friends of the hotel stopped the plan by buying the hotel. They financed and installed the needed sprinklers.
They also got the Hotel Boulderado protection from itchy-fingered developers by getting it on the Colorado Landmark list, and later the National Registrar of Historic Places. They began the long process of restoring the grand old Dame of Boulder, starting by replacing the plexiglass ceiling. A newly designed mosaic ceiling that brought back the warmth and feel of the 1905 original, costing 65,000 dollars, was completed in 2004.
In 1980, a new owner, Frank Day, took over and began to seriously restore the Boulderado to its former glory, starting by turning the cafe back into a formal establishment, Winston’s Seafood Restaurant. Day hired a furniture restoration expert, Laurel McKown, who also worked on restoring the hotel’s decor.
Hotel Boulderado now has a revenue stream that not only meets expenses, but makes a profit. Improvements continue to be made. They are appreciated by both living guests and by their spirit people residents. Hotel Boulderado is once more an asset to the city of Boulder.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
The original rooms numbered 302 and 304, in the older part of the hotel, have been reported to have spirits in them. They have noted in the third floor hallways as well. Activity on the top floor of the old section also seems to be strong. The reader may wonder why.
Hotels seem to draw suicidal people, because they are big and offer a level of privacy in which to do the self destructive deed. Suicidal people think they will find peace. Once they find themselves in spirit form, they feel the same feelings, only now they are stuck where they killed themselves.
There have been three suicides, and one attempted suicide at the Boulderado. One person shot him or herself on the fire escape. Another did the same thing, probably in their room.
One down-on-his-luck guest killed himself in 1924, using chloroform, while his wife was taking a bath. She 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. She may have been sent to the local Asylum for treatment, which often turned out to be worse for the patient than the mental illness.
Sometimes when people enjoy a favorite hotel or vacation spot, they like to try to spend their afterlife there as well, especially if they’ve had good memories of their stay. 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 want to stay and get their money’s worth, or just continue enjoying their old space.
Many people loved to come and stay at the Hotel Boulderado. Several natural deaths occurred there over the years.
A Female Apparition
Seen wearing a white dress. Her transparent form has been seen recently, traipsing around the hallways of the top floor where the most expensive suites are, because of the view.
Something spectral and unseen likes to play with the lights, and turn TVs on and off.
Rooms 302 and 304
Both of these third floor rooms, once numbered 302 and 304, have been spirit-occupied for many years.
Guests have reported seeing indistinct, white, human-shaped apparitions to staff. Guests have also 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 trapped spirits who suicided here were helped to the other side by a priest or a medium, but no one has said so.
The female spirit 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 and not wanting contact with the living. They just want to enjoy the hotel and the great times they experienced here.
Though no hard evidence or EVPS have been revealed publicly online, except for the one EVP mentioned above. Many people over the years (especially housekeeping staff) have had experiences with these spirits.
The original haunted rooms may now be used for staff or work rooms, instead of a rooms for guests. Staff can better deal with spirits than paying guests. Or perhaps these rooms aren’t rented to the public anymore. I couldn’t find any recent experiences from people who have stayed in these rooms.
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,” perhaps from a spirit who was concerned about her tripping down the stairs in the dark.
Investigators tried to catch evidence in rooms 302 and 304 but came up empty-handed. There is an explanation. From other sources, I’ve learned that these two rooms for years were either used as work places by a preservationist, or were the very last rooms to be rented on busy nights.
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 was an office or two which may have been one of the haunted rooms. Perhaps, the investigators were not investigating in the haunted rooms, but other rooms which had been given the numbers 302 and 304.
The Hotel Boulderado seems to respect the privacy of its spirit people, as much as they do their guests. These spirits are not on the hotel payroll to entertain the living. They are technically still guests or residents. 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 Street, just a two minute walk from the Pearl Street Mall, an upscale shopping and dining area, in the restored and renovated historic Boulder part of town. 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)
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr