Old West Saviors
Reopening Colorado's "Flagship of the San Juans."
- Written by Jana Bommersbach
- Published June 01, 2008
If walls could talk, one of the most interesting stories any walls in the West could tell would come from the Beaumont Hotel in Ouray, Colorado.
Should this country undergo another massive depression, this hotel would hardly be shocked; it’s already seen two other doozies since it was built in this beautiful but remote valley in 1886. First came the four-year panic that began in 1893 and then, of course, the Great Depression of 1929.
But then, this three-story hotel—some call it the “prettiest hotel in Colorado”—has also been through two World Wars and Prohibition. It predates the inventions of the drinking straw, safety razor and even the paper clip, as well as the coming of motels, which were first called “cabins.”
The Beaumont has been sitting at a corner in downtown Ouray, with its beautiful view of the San Juan Mountains, for so long that nobody can imagine this former mining town without it.
But without it the town went for 30 years, during a dispute between the former owner and city fathers over parking—a classic Western hissing match that found neither side with the gumption to step down.
For a lot of buildings, such a fate would be a so-what event. But in the life of Ouray, this fight caused considerable angst and anger. The closing of the hotel brought about the closing of its luxurious dining room and the town’s main gathering spot.
So it’s easy to understand the excitement Ouray’s citizens have felt since the hotel reopened in 2005 to the splendor of its first, posh days and with a new pumping heart for this town that has yet to really be “discovered.”
The Kings’ Good Fortune
It’s all thanks to Dan and Mary King, who came to town in the early 1980s on a weekend visit to friends who owned a second home there. Dan remembers he loved the outdoor life and fishing, and was taken in by the beauty of this valley that once mined silver and gold. He and Mary found their own second home here, away from their main digs, first in San Francisco, California, and later in San Antonio, Texas.
Working together, they amassed a fortune in Texas with their specialty lubricant company, and when they retired, Ouray called. Dan...
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