Changes continued for Hotel St. Cloud as community strived to save it – Canon City Daily Record

Changes continued for Hotel St. Cloud as community strived to save it – Canon City Daily Record

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part series on the Hotel St. Cloud.

The 1920s started well for Hotel Cañon with a brand new Otis elevator being installed,

In 1922, ownership of the hotel changed and improvements were made, including giving the hotel bus a new paint job.

As the political climate in the mid-1920s in Colorado and Cañon City shifted, the hotel found itself serving as headquarters for a quickly rising political party — the Klu Klux Klan. This group, known as the second Klan, flourished in protestant communities and were sworn enemies to Catholics, Jews, and African Americans in their quest to maintain white supremacy.

In 1924, the Cañon City Klan No. 21 was established under the leadership of Rev. Fred G. Arnold with more than 500 local men becoming members. Soon the Klan would boost numbers of more than 900, representing 20% of the population in Cañon City. In the fall of 1924, the Klan took control of both political parties, as well as city and county buildings, organizations and the school board.

Rev. Arnold, who served as the state leader of the Colorado Klansmen,  moved the Klan’s headquarters to Hotel Cañon in 1925 and opened the Colorado State Bank at  627 Main St. In the fall of 1928, Diedrich N. Cooper did what was thought impossible and overthrew the Klan in the elections that year, resulting in the headquarters moving out of Cañon City to Denver in 1929.

Despite its rough financial history, the Hotel Cañon was able to remain open as the Great Depression hit the nation, only closing its dining room during that period. After weathering the worst recession in the nation’s history, things seemed to look up for the hotel.

From the 1930s to the mid-1980s, the hotel seemed to persevere. While the hotel never flourished, it never really floundered either. In the 1940s, it found itself once again hosting film crews as Cañon City again became a popular spot to shoot westerns.

Once a stopping point for stagecoaches in the early 1900s, the hotel, in the 1960s  served as a bus depot seeing six buses daily, according to records at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center. Through the years, the hotel changed hands and ownership quite often.

In 1977, it sold for $78,000, the listing stated that it consisted of 36 rooms and 13 apartments.

In 1987, the Hotel Cañon was purchased by Rocky Top Productions and Reeder Corp., and was given back its original name, the St.Cloud Hotel. With plans for open carriage rides, and mystery theatre weekends, and nightly rates at $30 ti $60 per night,  the future looked bright for the old hotel.

However, in May 1988, Cañon City citizens found the historical hotel locked with a large closed sign hung on its double doors. Rumors soon started circulating that the entire staff had been laid off and articles speculating on the future of the hotel filled local newspapers.  For the next few months, the St Cloud was in limbo as several people attempted to reopen the historical hotel, only to close it again a month or two later.

In September 1989, the St. Cloud Hotel was officially closed for the first time since it opened in Cañon City in 1886.

By October 1990, 104 years after a posse surrounded the building seeking retribution for back taxes, the St. Cloud once again was a  hostage, this time by the state of Colorado, seeking payment on delinquent taxes amounting to $25,232.04. The Department of Revenue was not the only one that was owed money as records at the Fremont County Courthouse showed delinquency of $25,000 on property taxes and another $6,591.85 owed on business assets, according to a Daily Record article.  However before the public sale could be held, the holding company Reeder Corp, paid the delinquent taxes. The building was soon listed for sale for $500,000.

For three years, the building sat dormant until hotel managers Maria and Phil Stoner reopened it and began work on remodeling and preparing the 51 rooms to be operational again in the fall of 1992. Converting the hotel into both long-term and short-term rentals, the Stoners planned to keep the atmosphere of the St. Cloud true to its origins.

Under Stoner’s management, the restaurant was reopened, as well as a way to cater to locals, according to a July 1992 Daily Record article.

The hotel changed hands multiple times in the next few years because of high operating costs, according to Daily Record articles. In 1997, Gary and Sidney Buff, operating under St. Cloud Hotel LLC,  sold the hotel for $450,000 to Don Teuton, owner of Rootin Teuton Hotel LLC.

Under the new ownership, a Bakery & Coffee House opened with its Sunday brunch becoming popular among the locals, as well as the St. Cloud Bar and Grill.  In 1998, the St. Cloud Hotel was featured in the Denver Post’s Inn for the Night column spotlighting historic lodgings in the Rocky Mountain Region.

However, as fate would have it, the historical hotel’s financial issues would once more arise, which resulted in several handovers of the hotel. In 2001, records show that Rootin Teuton Hotel LLC put the hotel up for auction, but it did not sell.

In 2003, the hotel was sold for $1.3 million, however, the new ownership barely lasted a year before the hotel once again changed hands.

Today, the St.Cloud still stands vacant on the corner of Sixth and Main streets. While its history is filled with financial woes, it is also full of stories of a community who time and time again rallied behind it to save it from demolition.  For the past 12 years, the hotel has been transferred from one organization to the next, while their names are different their mission has all been the same-to see the hotel restored to its former glory.

In 2018, the St. Cloud was put up for public auction by the Future of Yesterday Foundation, which had worked since 2013 to raise funds to restore the building. Through the years, their efforts earned $350,000 in grants for the building with the foundation matching an additional $150,000. These funds went to help replace the roof and do some preliminary foundation work, and other projects. The decision to sell came due to the lack of community support in particular the city.

In July 2018, Unbridled Contractors bought the dilapidated building for $80,000. A company whose mission is to restore buildings and revive small towns felt like the St. Cloud was a perfect fit.

In a Canon City Daily Record article after the sale, Jonathan Wield said, “We can redeem places, so we saw this is a natural fit: you’ve got a restaurant and bar, so you can reach out to locals, and you’ve got hotel rooms, so you can reach out to people coming through town and give them a great experience.”

For the past three years, Unbridled has worked on the restoration process of the St.Cloud hotel, breathing life bit by bit back into the iconic hotel so it can be one more vital part of downtown.

 


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