Hotel de Paris was an idealized imitation of a Norman inn and is older than the State of Colorado itself. A former cook, journalist, and miner, Frenchman Louis Dupuy (born Adolph François Gerard) established the hotel and restaurant on October 9, 1875, in the Powers Building, formerly occupied by the Delmonico Bakery. Set in picturesque Clear Creek Canyon against the high peaks of the rugged Rocky Mountains, Dupuy’s fine establishment provided accommodations for regular boarders and a first-class French restaurant to visitors and the population of Georgetown. The town was a silver mining camp, boomtown, and financial center that then numbered approximately 3,500 citizens. The population of Georgetown would continue to rise with the arrival of the Colorado Central Railroad on Colorado Day, August 1, 1877.
Dupuy initially rented the two-story frame structure and then purchased it in 1878 for $1,250. Over time, the building was handsomely fitted with steam heat, hot and cold running water, elegant carpets, imported china, gaslights, and electricity. Masonry additions to the hotel were constructed in 1878, 1882, and 1889. The luxurious hostelry contained showrooms for traveling salesmen and eventually catered to wealthy businessmen, railroad tycoons, mining investors, hunters, fishermen, and those seeking elevated regions and a health resort.
The Colorado Miner declared Dupuy “one of the best cooks in the [Colorado] territory.” Over time, his restaurant offered three square meals each day, including oysters, wild game, hand-cut steaks, and seasonal delicacies.
Butchering was done on-site, within view of some of the guest rooms. Customers accustomed to the finer things in life marveled at the wine cellar, which was stocked with the choicest Bordeaux, Riesling, Zinfandel, California claret, French champagne, Madeira, sherry, cognac, port, brandy, and bourbon whiskey.
Stylistically, the completed building was High Victorian Eclectic with a mix of Greek revival, French Second Empire, and Italianate, and it posed a striking contrast to the surrounding wilderness. The substantial structure was distinguished in a competitive lodging market by its cast-iron window lintels and sills, gilded zinc statuary from New York, galvanized iron cornice, paved sidewalks, and stucco exterior scored to resemble blocks of stone.
The fashionable interior contained decorative features in the (Charles) Eastlake style and boasted black walnut woodwork, English carpets, velvet-covered couches and chairs, porcelain and brass cuspidors, marble-topped vanities, framed etchings of charming and provocative subjects, and an impressive collection of books and periodicals from Dupuy’s personal library.
The centerpiece of the hotel was its restaurant dining room, which had a polychromatic scratch fresco ceiling punctuated by gas chandeliers, silver maple and black walnut striped flooring, photographs by William Henry Jackson, mirrors, saloon tables, a zinc fountain featuring Cupid astride a swan, a leather-bound guest register, and a cylinder desk ornamented by veneered panels in the French style.
Burkholders-Colonial Dames Era
A rich and storied past included visits from notable guests George and Jay Gould and such celebrated figures as the Countess Magri (born Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, wife of Italian Count Primo Magri and widow of the late General Tom Thumb). However, after the Silver Panic of 1893, Hotel de Paris began a steady decline. The successive deaths of proprietor Louis Dupuy in October 1900 and housekeeper and Dupuy heir Sophie Gally in February 1901 made the property and its contents available for lease. On March 24, 1903, Sarah Harrison (Mrs. James Harvey) Burkholder began to acquire the hotel in increments from the heirs of Sophie Gally for an estimated total of $4,500. The purchase was completed in 1904.
The Georgetown Courier called Hotel de Paris “famous the wide world over” under the proprietorship of Sarah Burkholder, who maintained the property’s French flair and superior reputation. Rooms were comfortable and meals were excellent. Although at times operated by managers, the Burkholder family owned Hotel de Paris until 1954. That year, it was purchased from J. H. and Sarah Burkholder’s daughter, Hazel Burkholder McAdams, for $15,100 by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Colorado. The site reopened as Hotel de Paris Museum, a public charity whose mission is to collect, preserve, and share history associated with Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris and to serve as a catalyst for heritage tourism in the State of Colorado.
Cultural Adaptations and Present Status
In 1959–60 Hotel de Paree, a CBS television series based on Hotel de Paris, was filmed on a soundstage at CBS Studio Center near Los Angeles, California, and broadcast to homes across the country. The short-lived Western starred Earl Holliman, Judi Meredith, Jeanette Nolan, and Strother Martin. Hotel de Paris also captured the imagination of America’s Author, Louis L’Amour, who fictionalized the setting in his novel The Proving Trail. Sandra Dallas, a New York Times best-selling author, included Hotel de Paris in her novels The Chile Queen and the award-winning The Bride’s House.
Over the past sixty years, Hotel de Paris Museum has undergone millions of dollars of preservation and renovation efforts. Restored period rooms showcase the site’s original furnishings, faithfully arranged. Visitors are immersed in a setting of authenticity, which provides a fascinating window into the lives of the hotel’s proprietors, workers, builders, and guests. The site is a treasured landmark that appears much as it did during the 1890s. Hotel de Paris Museum is located in the Georgetown–Silver Plume National Historic Landmark District, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and became a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2007. In recognition of the museum’s sixtieth anniversary, Governor John W. Hickenlooper proclaimed May 24, 2014, Hotel de Paris Museum Day in Colorado.