Twelve years after Colorado Springs was founded, the Antlers Hotel opened its doors in 1883. Named for the deer and elk antlers installed in the lobby, the hotel had 75 guest rooms with no two alike. Visitors enjoyed the music room, billiards room, children’s playroom, barber shop and Turkish Baths. Notably for the era, the hotel was furnished with gas lighting, steam heat, and hot and cold running water. It was immediately popular with wealthy tourists and health-seekers.
The Antlers Hotel grew from General Palmer’s vision for the region. The stately Antlers Hotel was placed adjacent to the railroad depot. As travelers departed the train, they walked through a beautifully landscaped park into the main west-facing entrance of the hotel. At the height of its popularity, the Antlers burned to the ground on October 1, 1898, a loss of over $250,000, or nearly $7,000,000 today. When cabled the news in England, General Palmer responded by promising an even grander Antlers Hotel on the same spot.
Opening with great fanfare on July 2, 1901, the Italian Renaissance style second Antlers was designed by architects Varian & Sterner, and cost $600,000, or over $16,000,000 today. Capped by a red tile roof, the hotel featured a grand piazza along the western face, and ten loggias offered guests breathtaking views of Pikes Peak. Decorated with Italian marble, silk rugs, velvet draperies, gold-finishes, and leaded glass and mirrors —the Antler’s Hotel literally shone. The “new” hotel was said to be the most beautiful, elegantly furnished, and of course 100% fire-proof hotel in the West.
In the 1960s era of suburban sprawl and urban renewal, the Antlers did not survive. Despite changing owners and extensive remodeling, the hotel lost business. The once elegant property fell into disrepair, and to the dismay of many locals, was demolished. As Leland Feitz noted, “On September 20, 1964, the last guest checked out of the hotel. That night, Falcon Room bandleader, George Marvin, led a tearful group of employees and friends of the hotel in singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the lights went out forever.”
In 1967, a new hotel opened on the same property in a complex that hosted a shopping center and two office towers. In October 2015, the Antlers was purchased by attorneys Perry R. Sanders Jr., and John Goede who have launched a multi-million dollar effort to modernize the hotel. What the future holds for this landmark hotel is unknown, yet a tangible connection to our past lives on at the western end of Pikes Peak Avenue.
Submitted by Leah Davis Witherow, CSPM Curator of History