The Strater Hotel – Durango’s Iconic Landmark
The Strater Hotel that finally opened in 1887 was leased to H.L. Rice with Strater operating a pharmacy at the corner of the hotel. Very upset about his rent, Strater soon parted ways with Rice and opened a rival hotel nearby called the Columbian Hotel. The Panic of 1893 plunged both hotels in bankruptcy. The Strater wound up in the hands of Hattie Mashburn and Charles E. Stilwell who invested heavily in its future. These two remained in control of the Hotel until 1926 when Earl A. Barker, Sr., acquired it. Barker and his family continued to operate The Strater Hotel for the remainder of the century.
The Barkers were determined to increase the Hotel’s Victorian charm. They purchased authentic period furniture from many sources and created the hotel’s collection of American Victorian-era walnut furniture which grew into the largest of its kind in the world. In addition to guests that included Will Rodgers, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and President Gerald Ford, periodically author Louis L’Amour lived at the hotel and wrote novels that reflected its inspiration. In 1983, Roderick E. Barker, Earl’s son, assumed control of the Hotel and hired outstanding designers and craftsmen to enhance the hotel’s various iconic venues such as the Mahogany Grille Restaurant.