To help celebrate the Astor House’s 40th anniversary as a museum, Golden History Museums will release Inside the Astor House, a concise work detailing established facts alongside newly uncovered information about Golden’s iconic structure. With an anticipated release later this year, the book will include stories about two of the famous owners, Seth Lake and Ida Goetze, as well as building information about the hotel turned boarding house and other boarding houses in Golden. Below, read an excerpt from the book’s introduction, written by Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel, a professor of History at CU-Denver.
GOLDEN’S HISTORY SHINES AT ASTOR HOUSE
Once upon a time Golden, the capital of Colorado Territory, was expected to be the largest and most prosperous city. In 1866, the Colorado territorial legislature moved to Golden, after being promised free drinks and a free place to meet by Senator William A.H. Loveland, who had just completed additions to his fine two-story brick Loveland Block at 12th and Washington Streets.
To further accommodate the territorial government, Seth Lake constructed a fancy stone hotel just west of the Loveland Block. Lake, a native New Yorker, named his place for John Jacob Astor’s grand New York City hotel, the Astor House. Lake’s hotel opened in 1867, the year the legislature moved to Denver. This disaster, explained Golden Transcript editor George West, was due to “Evans & Co.” West charged that John Evans, Territorial Governor from 1862 to 1864, offered $800 to Senator J. Lawrence of the San Luis Valley to cast the decisive vote to remove the Capitol to Denver, which Evans called “really the only tolerable place.”
Lake sold the Astor House in 1887 and the building went through a series of owners until 1892 when a German widow, Ida Goetze, bought the Astor House for back taxes. She made many changes to the structure including adding a kitchen, wash house and third floor. Mrs. Goetze charged $1.50 a day or $4.50 a week with two meals a day. The Goetze family owned and operated the Astor House until the 1950s, and it became a residence for many Colorado School of Mines students.
Through the years, the old boarding house deteriorated badly and business leaders urged demolition for a parking lot. History-minded citizens incorporated the Golden Landmarks Association in 1972 and requested a public vote. The Golden Daily Transcript, June 8, 1972, urged “Vote ‘No’ on the Astor House” because “it is not a significant building. Why saddle our city with a functionless piece of property?” Goldenites, however, voted 654 to 301 to purchase it for $31,488.55 for use as a museum. Now, owned and operated by the City of Golden, the Astor House has been handsomely restored, even its smokers’ balcony which still offers one of the finest views in town.
Keep an eye out for GHM’s new publication Inside the Astor House being released in November 2013.