Beaumont Hotel Saga

In the early 1880s The Beaumont Hotel was conceived by five Ouray residents (D. C. Hartwell, William Weston, John M. Jardine, Hubbard Reed, and Thomas Gibson) who formed the Ouray Real Estate and Building Association. Their goal was nothing less than giving Ouray a first-class hotel. Part of their motivation was to impress visiting mine investors from the East Coast. The group hired Puebloan architect Otto Bulow and by March 1886 had plans ready for a brick and stone Gothic structure. As a footnote, hiring Bulow as the architect made it clear that the group intended to design and build nothing less than a monumental structure. A few years later, Bulow’s design for the Mineral Palace in Pueblo was chosen from plans submitted by architects across the nation. At its time the Mineral Palace, Egyptian in design, became one of the most ornate buildings in the United States. But that’s another story although it reinforces the Ouray vision to create a hotel unlike any other in the San Juans, Colorado, perhaps even in America.
Beaumont Hotel Staircase and Interior

Construction of the 3-story hotel at the corner of Third Street (Ouray’s main street) and Fifth Avenue cost $85,000 – more than $2.1 million in today’s purchasing power! The interior was modeled after what later would become Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel. It featured a rotunda encircled by balconies, cathedral glass skylights, rosewood paneling, and an oak staircase. The hotel was one of the first in town to have electricity. It featured forty-three guest suites on the second and third floors as well as a ballroom and dining room. Furniture came from Marshall Field’s in Chicago. First-floor retail spaces were leased by Ouray’s major banks and the local Western Union office.

Guests at the Beaumont’s grand-opening ball in July 1887 came from all over the San Juans. The hotel that became known as the “Flagship of the San Juans” had guests that included Theodore Roosevelt, the actress Sarah Bernhardt and a young Herbert Hoover. Impossible to foresee, however, in 1893 the hotel and the rest of the San Juans experienced the crash in silver prices. The hotel’s original owners could no longer make payments on their loan from the owner of the hotel who also was leasing it. He foreclosed and took over the property. However the hotel’s fortunes soon improved as gold mining surged and Ouray’s economy recovered. Once again wealthy residents began to use the hotel for large-scale entertaining.

Beaumont Hotel Room

When Ouray’s mines faded out and the economy deflated in the early twentieth century, hotel business didn’t really pick up until after WW II. Struggling to compete against cheaper motels in town, the hotel passed through several hands, closed and reopened at various times in the 1960s and then closed. Dan and Mary King came to town in the early 1980s intent on retirement. They had amassed a fortune from their business in Texas. They tried to buy the hotel which was in bad shape and not for sale. The Beaumont finally went on sale in 1997. At the time, all pink, it looked more like a defunct tear down than a great investment. The Kings bought the Beaumont Hotel in the early 2000s and were determined to restore it to its former grandeur. They had a vision and the money for an ambitious restoration that took five years and about $6 million. The Kings made sure that the hotel stayed true to its historical roots. Their efforts paid off. In 2003 the hotel earned the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation as well as the National Preservation Award. In 2004 the hotel received the Preserve America Presidential Award.

In 2010 the Kings sold the hotel to Chad and Jennifer Leaver who were married there in April, 2011. Jennifer Wyrick and Chad Leaver knew that they’d found something special when they first walked through the colorful, stained-glass doors of the Beaumont Hotel. The couple has been dedicated ever since to preserving and building the hotel’s reputation as one of the finest historic boutique hotels in the San Juans or anywhere.