Imperial Hotel Reservations
719-689-2561


Room 60

The Mackin King Suite

$265

Reserve Now

Third Floor Room with no elevator - with spa. Most deluxe room in the Hotel is themed for the Mackin Family.

In recognition of the years of Mackin ownership and commitment we dedicate this room to the Mackin Family.

From Dorothy’s own words, from her book on the Imperial Hotel:
"How did you ever happen to buy the Imperial Hotel?" is the question we have been asked countless times over the years. Our standard reply has always been: "Because we didn't know any better." And this rueful remark also has the virtue of being truthful.

From our honeymoon cottage in Manitou Springs, Wayne and I had been ranging the state trying to find a business that might be the right combination for us meeting three qualifications: I) That it be interesting and exciting 2) one that we felt capable of operating and finally, and most important, 3) one that we could afford. In retrospect, it seems that the Imperial qualified only in the first -we could never suggest that it has not been interesting and exciting!
On a cold, raw, windy April day we journeyed to Cripple Creek. We were probably "hooked" when we reached the top of Tenderfoot Hill and caught our first breathtaking glimpse of the Sangre de Cristo range in the distance. Far below, at the foot of a narrow winding gravel road, rose the smoke trails from the houses of Cripple Creek. Once in the town, we located the hotel, perched comfortably but crookedly on a steep hill running up from Bennett Avenue. To anyone else it probably would have presented a dismal sight, but to us it looked romantic, exciting, and yes, even possible.

On May 25th, 1946, we were the proud mortgaged owners of the Imperial. We began moving in. The lobby boasted as furnishings only an oak roll-top desk, a large oak table, a potbellied stove, an old fashioned phone booth, and a few odds and ends of chairs. Our apartment, now the Red Rooster, was entirely without furnishings. The dining room, closed since 1925, was large, cold and empty. The high ceilinged kitchen had been crudely partitioned into three sections and contained only a table and chairs, two tiny sinks and a small coal range.

Room by room, we began the renovation, after setting up housekeeping in the front apartment, often cooking on a one-burner hot plate when the coal stove in the kitchen proved too temperamental for our time and talents. We scrubbed and painted, replaced and repaired, attended auctions to add to the meager furnishings, and miraculously, by August, had the dining room and kitchen furnished and operating.

That first summer will forever be unforgettable, the back-breaking labor, refinishing ancient tables and chairs (from the even more an,.. client Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs) to render them suitable for a newly opened dining room, the long hours, being in the kitchen at six to be ready for breakfast customers at 6:30. Wayne did double and triple duty as desk clerk, bellman, bartender and host. I handled duties of secretary, typist, chef, bookkeeper and part-time furniture refinisher.
Flying in the face of all well-intentioned advice, we put crisp white linen and silver on our tables. We disproved the contention of the local butcher who promised us that we would "Never get over $2.00 for a dinner in Cripple Creek." We even disregarded George Brannen's helpful comment, "No wonder they didn't make it. Those people charged $2.00 and $3.00 a night for a room, and who is goin' to pay them prices?"
Wayne found a second hand back bar at a downtown pool hall which he purchased for $50.00 without first consulting me. We still remember the tears and fighting that ensued, and he doesn't mind reminding me that now, stripped to its golden splendor, it graces the Carlton Room. George Long's former draftsman's counter was resurrected from the kitchen. Cleaned of the many colored paints that has been spilled on it over his artist's years, it was pressed into use as front bar. The finishing touch was an under counter cash and coin drawer, coin compartments carved out of wood, that served as our only cash register for several years. How many times I counted soggy cash, after a particularly busy night at the bar when ice had melted and seeped down through the cracks.
We hired high school girls as waitresses and kitchen helpers. My mother joined our staff as hostess and pastry cook and a busy, happy summer soon sped by.
Our first winter was brightened by the advent of a road crew, putting a new paved road down from Tenderfoot to replace the twisting gravel one. Their rentals and meals made the difference for us between sheer poverty and just getting by. The New Year's night arrival of our first son, Stephen, crowned our winter months with happiness, even though at times we had to wait for a guest to check in and pay before we could buy a needed bottle of baby oil. We set his playpen up in our living room, his crib in an improvised nursery that he shared with the laundry mangle, and happily made plans for the coming summer.
The Imperial soon gained a reputation for good food and hospitality. Local groups booked special parties and banquets. The increased patronage of the 1947 summer was most encouraging, but we faced another winter stretching ahead, with cold and coal bills, empty rooms and empty cash drawer.
By some miraculous accident, I happened to read of the plight of the Piper Players, a group of young actors and actresses trying without success to find a spot to play melodrama in Central City. Remembering our earlier dreams of a night club or theatre in the basement, we made a phone call to the group at their summer location in Idaho Springs. A second fateful phone call, this one from the Chamber of Commerce in Colorado Springs wanting us to provide dinner and entertainment for the National Convention of Chamber of Commerce secretaries in mid-October, provided the impetus to get us together with the players. The first two performances, staged in the southwest corner of the dining room, were scheduled.
We rented, with option to purchase, the piano with stained glass front that became a familiar sight for many years in the Gold Bar Room Theatre and can still be seen in the back room of the Thirst Parlor. We arranged the Chamber of Commerce party, followed the next night by a dinner and second performance for the Sylvanite Club of the Cripple Creek district. At the close of these evenings, we had our first heady taste of the compliments and kudos that are the lifeblood of theatre. "I've never had more fun," "The dinner was wonderful, the show terrific," and "This is the highlight of our visit to Colorado."
We were skeptical about a Cripple Creek location, a few weeks later we signed a contract to open our first season of melodrama in the summer of 1948 in a yet-to-be constructed theatre in the basement. We spent that winter pinching pennies and planning publicity for the new venture. In June, the Piper Players returned and together we set to work to convert the basement from storage and apartments into a cabaret-style theatre. We lined the walls with plywood, boxed in plumbing and heating pipes, scrounged for tables and chairs. We found and purchased a handsome antique hotel sideboard to serve as back bar, and the hand-painted lamp that still hangs over the front bar. In the lobby, the under-the-stairway closet was opened to build a stairway giving access to the Gold Bar Room. We papered the stairwell with a windfall of defunct mining stocks. We pounded and painted, scraped and sanded and opened as scheduled to a full house on the night of July 3, 1948.
The following year over 6,000 attended the theatre. By 1950, when Colorado Springs Civic Theatre director, Orvis Grout, was engaged to direct for the Imperial, attendance increased to 8,000. The season was extended to nine weeks and the Gold Bar Room theatre began to chalk up frequent S. R. O's.
As business increased, I was happy to relinquish the reins in the kitchen to our first chef, Francois de Priest, who joined us in 1950 and returned each season through 1956.
Each year, increased attendance demanded expansion and changes.






123 N. Third St. POB 308

Ph: 719-689-2561

gary@imperialhotelrestaurant.com

        
 

 

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