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Astor House Retrospective - Part 1

sun streaming through casement windows - lumber on the floors, stone walls
Second story windows in the Astor House

In honor of this weekend's grand opening of the Astor House, I'm reprinting a three-part series that I wrote in 2022, after touring the then-disassembled interior.

The June 12, 1867 Colorado Transcript mentioned the Astor House, which was under construction at that time.

…a fine stone hotel, fifty feet front, on Second street, has already reached the second story windows, and the work is being pushed with commendable and characteristic energy by the proprietor, Judge Lake. He expects to have it ready for occupancy by the middle of July.

brick walls with little mortar visible; water damaged wood sill under window
Brickwork and Woodwork – ready for a refresh

I had a chance to tour the Astor House last week, as it stands ready for its biggest restoration project to date. Foothills Art Center is about to turn the old hotel and boarding house into an art museum. In doing so, they’ll be restoring woodwork, tuckpointing brickwork, and installing modern, energy-efficient HVAC equipment.

a few upright posts indicate where there used to be walls - rock exterior walls, board flooring
Ephemeral walls

The building’s current, stripped-down condition reveals a lot of its 155 year history. During the building’s many years as a boarding house, the interior space was partitioned and re-partitioned several times. (In fact, the first floor room that many of us remember as a dining room was serving as 2 bedrooms when the City acquired the building in the early 1970s.) Remnants of some of those partitions are now visible.

doorway showing a 2 inch difference in height of the board floors
Floors of different ages and heights

The various remodels also resulted in floors that change height from room to room. The contractors plan to re-lay the boards to give the floor a consistent level (which is an A.D.A. requirement).

the underside of the roof shows a significant number of blacked and incomplete boards
Charred roofing

A look up in the attic reveals another interesting glimpse of the past. A 1908 fire burned a significant part of the roof. Evidently the roofers decided that some of the charred boards were still usable.

I’ll continue this forensic walk through the Astor House tomorrow.

Thanks to the Golden History Museum for providing the online cache of historic Transcripts, and to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866. Thanks to Hassan Najjar for the tour of the Astor House!