Two of Colorado’s best-known historic properties are marking significant anniversaries. The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, opened on August 12, 1892, is celebrating 125 years in 2017 and is the longest continuously operating hotel in Denver. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs opened its doors on June 29, 1918 and is planning all sorts of festivities for next year.
As a hats off to these significant meeting and event properties, I thought it would be fun to share some tidbits and possibly lesser-known facts about these longtime hotels. This time, I’ll focus on The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa since we still have a bit of 2017 left; next, the spotlight is on The Broadmoor.
Name location and look:
- The hotel was named for Henry C. Brown, the 19th of his father’s 20 children and a carpenter-turned-entrepreneur from Ohio. In 1860, he arrived in Denver and donated 10 acres in the middle of his property as a site for the new Capitol building. The property values of his surrounding land skyrocketed and from that Brown built his fortune.
- The hotel was built on a unique triangular piece of Brown’s land and was the first steel skeleton structure in Denver. It took four years to build and cost $2 million, a staggering amount for that time. Chicago architect Frank E. Edbrooke, who faced the structure with Colorado granite and red sandstone, also designed the Navarre across the street and 16 other buildings that still stand and are on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The interior of the hotel lobby features a rare golden onyx from Mexico.
- A total of 736 filigreed iron panels make up the railings around the atrium. If you look carefully, two of them are upside down and no one knows why.
- During the Great Depression, the top two floors of The Brown Palace were converted into the Skyline Apartments to secure a steady stream of income for the hotel. Tenants resided there until the 1980s.
The place to stay and buzz:
- Nearly every U.S. President since Teddy Roosevelt has visited The Brown Palace. President Dwight D. Eisenhower made The Brown his headquarters for his presidential campaign and frequently stayed for long periods visiting his in-laws (Mamie Eisenhower was from Denver).
- Denver socialite Margaret “Unsinkable Molly” Brown (no relation to the hotel founder) stayed here two weeks after landing in New York following the sinking of the Titanic.
- While past guests have included many celebrities and royalty, the hotel has its own resident queen. The Brown Palace was the first hotel in the city to nurture a colony of rooftop bees. Five hives, each with its own clever name, including “Buzzingham Palace,” are maintained by a dedicated Palace beekeeper. The honey is used in a line of spa products and in-room amenities as well as in afternoon tea, seasonal recipes and cocktails, and a Brown Palace craft beer.
This and that
- Pure artesian water is drawn from the hotel’s own well located 720 feet below the hotel’s foundation. The well is deeper than the neighboring skyscrapers are tall.
- The oldest restaurant in the hotel, Ship Tavern, opened in 1934 after the repeal of prohibition.
- A service tunnel was built under Tremont Street in 1959 to move in-room dining servers, housekeepers and other staff and equipment between The Brown Palace and its annex across the street—now a Holiday Inn Express.
What does this mean for groups? Special places like The Brown Palace and The Broadmoor are sure to be remembered fondly by groups, and there is tons of potential to build history into a fun activity or gift. Make sure attendees have time to wander around and really experience these distinct Colorado places.