The Hotel Boulderado has been a downtown Boulder landmark since it opened on New Year’s Day, 1909. By 1905, Boulder City Council members wanted to promote growth in the area by providing the “comfort of a first class hotel.” Community stock subscriptions were advertised at $100 a share to raise the necessary funds. The result was the majestic Hotel Boulderado, named for the words “Boulder” and “Colorado” so that no guest would forget where he had stayed. Upon opening rooms varied in price from $1.00 to $2.50 per day.
The Boulder hotel was designed by William Redding & Son. It is a combination of Italian Renaissance-style with Spanish Revival features. The four corner towers, paired tall narrow windows, and bracketed cornices are indicative of the Italianate style, while the iron railings on the large east side porches, arched fourth floor windows, and curvilinear gables are all reminiscent of the Spanish Revival architectural style.
The historic Colorado hotel’s distinctive exterior in the heart of downtown Boulder is clearly visible from the overlook on Flagstaff Mountain. The large blocks of orange-red sandstone came from Colorado Red Sandstone Company of Fort Collins. The thousands of red bricks in the original historic building came from the Thompson Pressed Brickworks, which was located on land that is now part of the University of Colorado campus. The bricks were intricately laid in rows four deep for warmth and durability.
The crown jewel of the hotel is the famous stained-glass canopy ceiling. When the Boulderado was still in the planning stages, the architects were inspired by The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, which had set a precedent for leaded glass canopied hotel lobbies. The leaded glass ceiling was carefully crafted from cathedral glass transported all the way from Italy. Unfortunately, a heavy snowfall in 1959 damaged a section of the ceiling. In 1977, a new ceiling was designed and installed to bring back the feel and warmth of the original. A $65,000 renovation of this ceiling was completed in 2004.
Another famous feature is the original cantilevered cherrywood staircase, extending from the basement all the way to the fifth floor. The balcony overlooking the lobby is one of Boulder’s most popular photography points. Many couples have exchanged their wedding vows here throughout the decades.
The entire mosaic tile floor covering the entryway, lobby, and dining room is original. The operator-attended Otis elevator in the lobby is over 100 years old and still works as smoothly as the day it was installed. The hotel’s original safe is on display behind the Front Desk, and the white marble water fountain to the left of the Front Desk is the only one remaining of a series of fountains around the city whose water was piped directly from Boulder’s own Arapahoe Glacier.
Throughout the hotel you will find large glass cases displaying historical artifacts from the hotel and Boulder. A great variety of historical photos, newspaper articles, menus, and guest registers provide a window into the early days of Boulder. Take a stroll up the staircase to the fifth floor to see the life-sized portrait of Beatrice “Honey Bee” Lennartz, a Boulder music teacher who frequently enjoyed lunch at the hotel in her later years, and explore the west side of the third floor, which acts as a “living history museum.”
Read the full history of the hotel in “Legend of a Landmark, a History of the Hotel Boulderado”, by Silvia Pettem, published by the Book Lode LLC and available in the Boulderado Emporium.
Visit these sites for more information on local history and national historic preservation efforts:
- The Hotel Boulderado is a proud member of Historic Hotels of America
- The National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Historic Boulder
- Boulder History Museum
- Boulder Carnegie Library
- Hotel Boulderado Historian and Author of Several Local History Books ~ Silvia Pettem
- Boulderado History Brochure