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Renovation reveals Hotel Colorado’s hidden history

Work to modernize the 126-year-old Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs is peeling back some of its long lost history.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — The historic Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs is undergoing a major remodel, and in the process, some of the original features long covered and forgotten are being rediscovered.

The 126-year-old hotel was built back in the late 1800s. After it was first built, Presidents William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt both stayed at the hotel while vacationing in Colorado.

Credit: Matt Renoux, KUSA

In the 1940s, the U.S. Navy took over the hotel and transformed it into a hospital with surgical and recovery rooms to be used for patients during World War II. 

But turning the hotel into a hospital meant covering up many of the hotel’s original features – like fireplaces and hardwood floors – to make the building more sanitary for medical procedures. Many of those original features have been covered up and forgotten about until recently with the hotel going through a major renovation.

Credit: Matt Renoux, KUSA

While crews were working on modernizing the ballrooms and meeting spaces, hotel general manager Christian Henny said crews uncovered several fireplaces and hardwood floors dating back to the when the hotel was first built.

“It’s pretty much the reverse of the norm, usually you take away features when you’re modernizing things,” Henny said. “Here we’re trying to modernize the functionality but bring back the character and bring back the great finishes and the styling of when the hotel was originally built.”

Credit: Matt Renoux, KUSA

Most of the fireplaces no longer work. The Navy poured concrete into them when they covered them up, but one next to the lobby is still functioning.

In the basement of the hotel, remodeling crews have also found an old brig, or jail, that the Navy built to hold anyone who was feeling good enough to get out and cause trouble around Glenwood Springs.

Credit: Matt Renoux, KUSA

This is the first phase of the hotel remodel. Hotel guest rooms are next, and more history is expected to be found when crews start that phase. 

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