Mission statement

To collect, preserve, and share history and culture associated with Louis Dupuy's Hotel de Paris, and serve as a catalyst for heritage tourism.
Make a donation at www.hoteldeparismuseum.org. Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Managing Change During the 2020 Pandemic

Before the COVID-19 pandemic was upon us, Hotel de Paris Museum set a financial goal to raise $25,000 in admissions, donations, and shop sales between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021.  Then, on March 25, 2020 Governor Jared Polis issued the first in a series of COVID-19 related executive orders for all Coloradans to stay at home due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state.  An extension of the order went into effect April 6.  On April 26, the  executive order labeled “safer at home” loosened restrictions for Coloradans to shelter in place.  A disaster emergency was declared May 22 due to the presence of Coronavirus disease in Colorado, and on May 25 the safer at home executive order was amended and extended.  Most recently, the Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors executive order was passed June 1, offering some hope of a slow, but eventual recovery.

However, this long-term situation will make it exceedingly difficult for the museum to raise $25,000 by the end of its fiscal year.  To mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 to the museum’s financial health and stability, plans were undertaken early on to prepare the site for a phased reopening of Hotel de Paris Museum during its 66th year of operation.

A Public Health Order issued by the State of Colorado closed our site, but guidance from Clear Creek County Public and Environmental Health aided in a successful (safe) reopening of Hotel de Paris Museum June 19, 2020 (one day after Governor Polis addressed reopening museums, which are considered non-essential and a small to medium exposure risk).

The closure was a time to continue fulfilling our mission and make changes in preparation of resuming guided tours and inviting customers back into our museum shop (admissions and merchandise sales are two of our revenue streams).  Thankfully, Governor Polis and County Commissioners Randall "Randy" Wheelock, George Marlin, and Sean Wood provided regular informative briefings to aid businesses reopen and work toward normalcy and recovery.

The following information is based on best practices shaped by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Governor Polis’ COVID-19 Response Team, Clear Creek County Public and Environmental Health, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America/Great American Treasures, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Press conferences, meetings, webinars, websites, and documents provided information that was collected and disseminated into five categories.  The result was “Reopening Plan for Hotel de Paris Museum."

HYGIENE

  • Daily employee temperature check
  • Hotel de Paris Museum provides a non-contact infrared thermometer and keeps an employee log of temperatures and symptoms
  • COVID-19 Employee Health Screening Form for Onsite Screening in use
  • Staff members with temperatures 99+* F will be sent home
  • Temperature logs become part of the museum’s personnel files
  • Staff were issued one non-surgical face mask
  • Hourly hand washing by staff
  • Repetitive use of hand sanitizer by staff
  • Hand sanitizer containing 65% alcohol in use
  • Hand sanitizer at points of entry/exit
    • Museum Shop
    • Museum
    • Annex
    • Staff restroom
    • Executive director’s office
  • Metal folding chairs available in each room 1st Floor (museum)
    • Replaces folding wood chair
    • Can be disinfected after use
  • No access to visitor security lockers until further notice
  • Mandatory masks or face coverings for staff, volunteers, and visitors
  • Masks or face coverings must stay on and cover the nose and mouth when on Hotel de Paris Museum property
  • Single use masks or face coverings are available for visitors who arrive without a mask or face covering
  • Visitors will be asked to leave the property if not compliant (Executive Order 6.4.2020)
  • Disinfecting wipes, paper towels and bleach based cleaner in use
    • Museum Shop
    • Museum
    • Annex
  • Identify clean pens from used pens
    • Provide separate, labeled containers
    • Disinfect used pens with a bleach based cleaner

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING

  • Guided tours of no more than 6 visitors + 1 tour guide
    • Group size determined by room configurations
    • Group size determined by room furnishings
  • No more than 3 staff members on site
  • Keep site occupancy to 10 or fewer people
  • Executive director’s office restricted to ED only
  • 6 feet social distancing
    • Distinct standing spots identified for visitors (1st Floor)
    • Distinct standing spots identified for tour guides (1st Floor)
    • Guide will address from doorway in Room 13
    • Guide will address visitors from doorway in Sample Room 2
  • Relocated proprietor portrait gallery from a congested area to a large room
  • Minimal changes to historic furnishing configurations add more usable floor space
  • Removed seating to discourage congregating
    • 6th Street entrance
    • Museum Shop
    • Courtyards
  • Sneeze guard installed at admissions desk
  • No more than two customers in museum shop at any time; shared households may have no more than four in museum shop at any time
  • Signage

CONTACT TRACING

  • Online admissions have precedence to walk-up admissions
    • Regulates size of group
    • Serves as a reservation
  • Aids in locating visitors should an outbreak occur
    • Collects customer names
    • Records contact information

PROGRAMMING CHANGES

  • Reduced tour schedule
    • Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays
    • 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.
  • Discounted General Admission pricing for 2020
  • Online convenience fee $1 per paid admission
  • 1st Floor tour only (Commercial Kitchen, Dining Room, Sample Room 2, Rooms 13 & 14)
    • 2nd story virtual tour
    • Cellar virtual tour
  • Onsite visitors unable or unwilling to wear a mask or face covering can visit us online
  • Removed interactive experiences until further notice
    • Call bell
    • Cold roll mangle
    • Copy of restaurant menu
    • Albums of historic photos, correspondences, and receipts
    • Smell jars
  • Suspended indefinitely Group Tours and Facility Rentals
  • Cancelled experiential wine tours for 2020
  • Cancelled annual Bastille Day celebration for 2020
  • Cancelled Blue Star Museums for 2020
  • Cancelled Smithsonian magazine Day for 2020
  • Developed and executed a new online auction

SITE CHANGES

  • Opened doors between rooms on 1st floor
    • Improves air circulation
    • Eliminates touching of door hardware
  • Opened windows for air replenishment and improved circulation
    • Commercial Kitchen
    • Sample Room 2
    • Room 13
    • Room 14
    • Museum Shop (Sample Room 1)
  • Restricted some areas
    • 2nd story
    • Cellar
    • Security lockers
    • Admissions desk
  • Separate entrances for museum tours and museum shop

VISITOR GUIDELINES

  • Face mask covering nose and mouth required.
  • Maintain social distance of 6 feet.
  • Sanitize hands regularly.
  • Follow staff instructions.
  • Service animals allowed.  No pets.
  • No seating, restrooms, or water available.
  • Daily capacity is capped to ensure necessary space for social distancing.
  • First floor tour only.  The 2ND story and cellar are closed at this time.
  • Set aside one hour for your visit.
  • No bags, backpacks, luggage, or strollers allowed.
  • Do not visit Hotel de Paris Museum if you are COVID-19 positive, have had close contact with someone COVID-19 positive, or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Visitors not following requirements may be asked to leave.
To help Hotel de Paris Museum fill its fundraising gap, go to www.hoteldeparismuseum.org and click on our green "DONATE NOW THROUGH COLORADOGIVES.ORG" button before April 1, 2021.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Lung Disease and Improved Healthfulness of Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris

After the completion of the 1889 addition to Hotel de Paris, proprietor Louis Dupuy acquired a copy of Professor Koch’s Cure for Consumption by Berlin physician Dr. H. Feller.  The sixty-one-page book explained the discovery of tubercle bacillus by Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch, his experimental investigation, and application of his discovery.  It is Koch's claim of a remedy that seems to have impressed Dupuy and perhaps influenced his plans for expanding his popular French inn.

Professor Robert Koch

Due to Dupuy’s reputation as the best cook in the Colorado Territory, Hotel de Paris thrived into the 1890s.  The remodeling of his hotel restaurant and adding of a commercial kitchen in 1878, rapid-fire building of staff and guest rooms in 1881, constructing of salesmen’s sample rooms and guest rooms in 1882, and, shortly-thereafter, erecting of guest rooms and his own private quarters in 1889 indicates a depth of financial resources and a reason to grow his business:  demand for a variety of fine food prepared in the best manner, choices of imported liquor and soft drinks, and luxuriant accommodations in the refined and picturesque silver mining town of Georgetown, Colorado.  

Dupuy earned wealth from his childhood experiences, innate talent, professional training, self-imposed discipline, and hospitable demeanor.  After a fire vacated neighboring lots occupied by the  McClellan Opera House and Mrs. Johnson's millinery store in January 1892, Dupuy stepped up efforts to improve the appearance of the hotel, and, most importantly, developed plans for a six-room addition.  However, the Panic of 1893 and subsequent years-long economic depression could have stymied Dupuy’s achievements and closed his business, ending his dreams of redemption through respectability.  Yet in those uncertain economic times, instead or ratcheting down operations, he forged on.


The 1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the Block 20 location of McClellan Opera House, Mrs. Johnson's millinery shop, a carriage repository, and Hotel de Paris

It is likely the economic depression negatively impacted Dupuy’s thriving business, although he continued to enjoy patronage from businessmen, Denverites, and wealthy tourists seeking entertainment in elevated regions where tuberculosis occurred less frequently (tuberculosis has been called "the disease that helped put Colorado on the map").  This is what makes the timing of his plan to expand the hotel during a financial disaster so curious.  Instead of clinging to his previous business model of packing people into his guest rooms to satisfy demand, Dupuy adopted a new business model that focused on high health and made changes to reduce congestion within the guest rooms and common areas of Hotel de Paris by offering what Dr. Koch recommended: clean living, privacy, and health.

The only way to accomplish this, yet maintain the volume he was experiencing, was to decrease the number of lodgers per room and add more rooms at a financially inopportune time.  Based on furniture, accessories, and linens stored in Rooms 7 and 8, Dupuy appeared to prepare the outfitting of an additional guest room and a gentlemen’s smoking room that would increase his own privacy as well as allow guests to spread out within the confines of his establishment. 

Dupuy's key board showcased twenty guest rooms, even though only fourteen existed within Hotel de Paris

No longer would same-sex lodgers (and strangers to one another) cram into hotel rooms and beds; by decreasing the occupancy in each guest room and common areas, Dupuy followed Dr. Koch’s recommendations to create uncrowded conditions by social distancing.

It may be the number of drinking glasses, towels, and pillowcases recorded on the appraisement bill (a just valuation of property) from the “Estate of Louis Dupuy, Deceased” (January 1901) that best reflects efforts to reduce guest room and common area occupancy levels:
  • Sample Room 1 had become an office.
  • Sample Room 2 had become Dupuy’s private library and smoking room.
  • Rooms 3, 13, 14, and Annex Room 1 were staff quarters.
  • Room 4 contained 1 pillowcase, 1 glass tumbler, 1 fancy Turkish towel, and 1 cuspidor (indicating one lodger).
  • Room 5 contained 1 pair of sheets, 2 pillowcases, 1 glass tumbler (indicating up to two lodgers traveling together).
  • Room 6 and Annex Room 2 each contained abundant furnishings and linens (indicating families or larger traveling parties who desired to remain grouped).
  • Rooms 7, 8, and Annex Room 3 had become storerooms.
  • Rooms 9, 10, 11, and 12 each contained 1 pair sheets, 2 pillowcases, and 1 glass tumbler (indicating up to two lodgers traveling together per room).
By the end of 1900, it appears Sample Rooms 1 and 2, Rooms 7 and 8, and Annex Room 3 were taken out of the Hotel de Paris guest room inventory; Rooms 3, 13, 14, and Annex Room 1 remained private staff quarters; Room 4 was decreased from two to one lodger; Room 5 (original capacity of four) was reduced to 1-2 lodgers; Rooms 9, 10, 11, and 12 continued to host 1 lodger (or two if traveling together).

By following Dr. Koch’s recommendations to cure consumption, Dupuy worked to decrease guest interaction by cutting his lodging capacity by nearly half; therefore, it seems plausible Dupuy’s earning potential could potentially be recovered by building more hotel rooms and common areas as well as developing a clientele keen on clean living, privacy, and health. 

Unfortunately, Louis Dupuy himself died of a lung ailment (pneumonia), which halted his plans for continued expansion of Hotel de Paris.  The land he acquired after the 1892 opera house fire is presently a public parking lot.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at hoteldeparismuseum.org.  Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Influence of Epidemics on Hotel Keeping


In the throes of the COVID-19 world-wide pandemic, it became apparent how relevant our discussion of health preservation is at Hotel de Paris Museum and how Victorian concerns are like our own.  In addition to cooking, hosting, and debating, hotelier and restaurateur Louis Dupuy should be recognized for his interest in sanitary science.  He addressed health on both an individual and communal level, what we currently call public health.  Physical proof of his attention to his own health and safety, as well as his guests, is woven into the built environment of Hotel de Paris.

Toilet paper was offered in individual sheets or on rolls 


It could be argued Dupuy was a borderline germaphobe. His private quarters had vents and fresh air returns to rid the rooms of cigar smoke; he read books about anatomy, nutrition, health, and disease; and, he decorated in the (Charles) Eastlake style, an architectural and household design reform movement believed to improve one’s health through easy-to-clean furnishings that reduced dust, and, therefore, improved health by discouraging disease.  Dupuy also embraced personal hygiene by taking daily ice baths, keeping a flesh brush and skin strap in his private bathroom, and outfitting it with hot and cold running water, a soaking tub, vanity with wash bowl and nickel plated brass spigots, a gravity flush toilet with copper cistern, and toilet paper dispensers from Scott Paper Company. 

Clearly, Dupuy liked creature comforts like these; however, he also ran his famous French inn during a time of industrialization and Western expansion in the United States.  People were leaving the healthful countryside for city jobs or new settlements and discovered pollution and proximity were breeding grounds for communicable diseases such as cholera, dysentery, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and influenza.  Because of the demand for Dupuy’s cooking and luxurious accommodations, along with an interest in outdoor sporting and restoring one’s health in the High Country, Hotel de Paris often ran at capacity.  Therefore, same-sex lodgers were often asked to share rooms—and even beds—with strangers.  Without social distancing, it was necessary Dupuy build sanitary features and practices into his business plan.

Corner vanities and fold-away towel bars
are located in guest rooms and private quarters, Room 4

Every room in his popular hotel contained a washstand, or, in the case of his restaurant dining room, had a lavatory adjacent to it.  Dupuy encouraged (and may have even expected) his guests to engage in frequent hand washing with soap and water.  The double vanity for the dining room was equipped with hot and cold running water, a cake of soap, hairbrush, comb, glass tumbler, and a towel roller and towel.  Five additional roller towels were kept in a nearby walnut wardrobe, which stood outside a public half-bathroom or powder room containing a gravity flush toilet with copper cistern, corner sink, and toilet paper dispenser from Morgan Envelope Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.  A nearly identical communal half-bathroom or powder room was located on the second floor, was ventilated by a skylight and reserved for the use of lodgers and possibly on-site staff.

Custom soap by James S. Kirk & Company Perfumers
Chicago, Illinois

Wash basins, toilets, and bathtubs were mostly purchased from J. L. Mott Iron Works, and regularly scoured by French housekeeper Sophie Gally who used granulated Red Seal Lye to disinfect and freshen.  American chamber maid Sarah Curtain emptied and cleaned sanitary-ware chamber pots for hotel guests and on-site staff.  To facilitate his lodgers’ personal hygiene, Dupuy stocked his well-ventilated guest rooms (each with one or more windows, transoms, and high ceilings for good air circulation to discourage miasmas and “bad air”) with huckaback towels and created a retail area in the restaurant dining room in which he sold five types of soap (one suited for children and others bearing the words “Hotel de Paris”), four choices of women’s perfumes, bay rum cologne for men, rose water glycerin lotion, tooth wash, and chewing gum.  Doormats, toothpick holders and wastepaper baskets were also placed throughout the building.

People were encouraged to use spittoons or cuspidors

Doorknobs, handles, and spittoons in the public areas of Hotel de Paris were brass.  This yellow alloy of copper and zinc was known to possess anti-bacterial qualities.  By 1867, French physician Victor Burq proved copper was antimicrobial and can kill bacteria and viruses within minutes; therefore, copper and brass fittings and accessories were popular not only for their attractiveness and affordability, but also for inherent health benefits. 

Period example of an outdoor clothesline

Because the color white is associated with cleanliness, Dupuy’s restaurant tables were set with white tablecloths and napkins and guest beds were dressed in white sheets, pillowcases, and coverlets.  Dupuy wanted to know when the linens were dingy or soiled, and employed Chinese gardener John Touk as a live-in laundryman for the hotel.  Touk used a copper wash boiler for laundry and washed white linens in hot water to sterilize, lye soap to discourage bed bugs and mites, and Borax to whiten.  For bleaching and sanitizing, laundry was dried out of doors on a clothesline in the sunny East Courtyard.

Copper mixing bowl on zinc countertop, 1878 Commercial Kitchen

Behind the scenes in the commercial kitchen, Dupuy prepared food on farm tables fitted with food-safe anti-bacterial zinc countertops and cooked using copper pots, pans, and mixing bowls.  He prepared food wearing a heavy, white cook’s apron and cap while standing before a white porcelain cooking surface, beneath a skylight which served as a flue and between several exterior doors and windows that provided strong and consistent cross ventilation and a limitless replenishment of fresh mountain air.

Fragment of linoleum under carpet, Room 3

As healthy as Dupuy’s hotel and restaurant were, there were problems:  guests shared cakes of soap, towels, a hairbrush, comb, and glass tumblers; customers touched communal fixtures; antimicrobial sheet linoleum (made popular by Frederick Watson in the 1860s) was removed and wall-to wall-carpeting installed in guest rooms; and, waitresses, musicians, and back-of-the-house staff ate soup Louis Dupuy made from restaurant leftovers salvaged from the plates of patrons. 

Much like today, the Victorian era practice of sanitary science and its preservation of individual and public health was not yet perfected; however, Louis Dupuy’s interest in healthy living in the High Country resulted in good food for vitality, reduced dust indoors, free air flow, antimicrobial surfaces, sanitary plumbing fixtures, sterilized laundry, and abundant toiletries for personal hygiene. 

Let’s all keep working on that social distancing!

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at hoteldeparismuseum.org.  Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website.  Thank you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NEW BOOK: "Victorian Visitors at Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado" Identifies Guests of the Famous French Inn

"Victorian Visitors" commemorates the 60th anniversary of Hotel de Paris Museum

The three most asked visitor questions at Hotel de Paris Museum are: 1) Is the hotel haunted?, 2) Can I get a room or a meal?, and 3) Who stayed at the hotel?  Museum staff were able to answer the first two questions rather easily, but the third question was more difficult to address with any certainty due to a lack of analysis of the guest registers from Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris.  In fact, until recently, no paper or book had been written about guests of the Hotel.

History Colorado owns five guest registers from Louis Dupuy's Hotel de Paris

For many years, there had been only a vague understanding of the clientele of the Hotel.  In 2007, a survey indicated one of the most interesting aspects of the site to today’s visitor is who dined, drank, and slept at Hotel de Paris.  Therefore, out of respect for our visitors and a commitment to scholarly study of the site, the five extant volumes of the registers were meticulously analyzed by Constance Merrill Primus, a volunteer for Hotel de Paris Museum and an active member of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Colorado (the organization that has owned the site and operated it as Hotel de Paris Museum since 1954).

About the same time as the visitor questionnaire, Mrs. Primus began to decipher and transcribe handwritten names found in several volumes of the Hotel’s guest registers.  Five large volumes of signatures are owned by History Colorado and span the periods July 1881-July 1883, December 1887-April 1889, June 1891-April 1893, April 1893-October 1895, and February 1897-July 1914.  Four volumes are housed at the Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center of the History Colorado Center; however, one volume is on loan to Hotel de Paris Museum, where it is on permanent placement in a locked cabinet so that it may be seen and enjoyed.  The registers were given in 1967 to the Colorado Historical Society (now History Colorado) by James Grafton Rogers, former Assistant Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration and police judge of Georgetown, Colorado.

Police Judge James Grafton Rogers

Starting in 2008, outgoing loans of the registers took place between History Colorado and the Museum for purposes of study.  History Colorado loans for “reasonable periods of time, materials and exhibits possessed by the society to responsible borrowers under adequate safeguards.”

Author Constance Merrill Primus

The initial intent of Constance Merrill Primus’ project was to create a legible and searchable database for people interested in determining who stayed or dined at Hotel de Paris.  Information (such as name, residence, time, and room) is periodically requested by genealogists who have reason to believe their ancestors, or subjects of their research, may have visited Hotel de Paris when it was still in operation as a fine hotel and first-class French restaurant.  Work is underway to provide the database as an online resource on the website of Hotel de Paris Museum.  Like the list of resources provided in Victorian Visitors at the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado, it is anticipated the interactive online database will stimulate interest and involvement in history.

Mrs. Primus began untangling tens of thousands of Victorian era signatures written in cursive.  These names provided evidence of visits by individuals from locations far and wide.  Through her diligent work, she uncovered the humanity of individuals.  Typical of the period, there was an abundance of flourishes.  Numerous smudges, wavering lines, and uneven line thickness added to the difficulties of untying the many artistically inked loops and strokes. 

Examples of the hand-written signatures

Leading up to the sixtieth anniversary of Hotel de Paris Museum, it was suggested by Museum Director Kevin Kuharic that the painstaking efforts of Mrs. Primus be expanded into a book in order to commemorate the Museum’s six decades of service to the public.  From her seven-years-long project, emerged a better understanding of the fascinating clientele who dined, drank, and slept at this “typical French inn” and one of the best hotels in Colorado. 

Each name (totaling over 18,000 individual records) was transcribed by Mrs. Primus.  She verified types of visitors and grouped them into the categories of diners, miners, railroad men, commercial travelers, lady tourists, and entertainers.  The long list of guests included Heneage M. Griffin (a wealthy investor from England), Lena Stoiber (Silverton’s “Captain Jack”), Robert A. Sedgwick (railroad conductor), Fritz Thies (cigar factory owner and musician), Helen Barnum Buchtel (property developer), and Mrs. General Tom Thumb (world-famous “little person”).  This small sampling of visitors illustrates the diverse backgrounds and personalities drawn to Colorado in its first quarter century and helps illustrate the expansion of the American West.  Mrs. Primus successfully tells the story of immigration, the rise of industry, the construction of rail roads, the growth and collapse of silver mining, the role of privileged 19th century women, and the disastrous effects of the Panic of 1893.

Example of a blotter page

In addition, solid historical research revealed proprietor Louis Dupuy hosted women, which contradicted reports beginning in 1911 that Dupuy turned women away from his establishment.  In addition, it was discovered there were Jewish traveling salesmen who rented the Hotel’s sample rooms and sold their goods to Georgetown locals and others in the vicinity.   Prior to this, the existence of women guests was in question and the contributions of Jewish people were unknown.  Victorian Visitors at the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado has expanded the story of Hotel de Paris to be more inclusive and truly representative of the history of the site by reconstructing the lives of people from their personal signatures. 

Mrs. General Tom Thumb is perhaps the most famous guest of Hotel de Paris

Victorian Visitors at the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado has helped make Hotel de Paris more relevant with diverse communities by telling stories that embrace a fuller range of cultural experiences.  The expansion of the site’s list of key historical figures has allowed the Museum to speak more effectively to race, creed, gender, age, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds.  Just recently, the new understanding of the site has enabled the management of Hotel de Paris Museum to apply for a grant to fund an Interpretive Plan that will help tell some of the stories discovered by Constance Merrill Primus on guided and self-guided tours of the site.

Victorian Visitors at the Hotel de Paris in Georgetown, Colorado is available at Hotel de Paris Museum for $9.99 + tax.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at hoteldeparismuseum.org.  Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website.  Thank you!

Monday, October 14, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Mines of Clear Creek County



Much like the photographers who captured panoramic and aerial views of gold and silver mining operations located within Colorado’s High Country, readers of Mines of Clear Creek County by Ben M. Dugan will be able to visualize the tremendous scale and development of underground mining operations district by district.  This bird’s eye perspective of the mines, mills, tunnel entrances, hustling mining camps and bustling mining towns is cleverly reinforced by an illustration of John Gast’s painting American Progress, in which a diaphanous figure of Columbia (an allegorical representation of the United States of America) floats through the air and contributes to Westward expansion.


American Progress, John Gast

Dugan aids readers by discussing historical events that set the stage for mining fever in the communities of Idaho Springs, Georgetown, Empire, Silver Plume, Dumont, and Lawson.  A catastrophic loss of approximately $2 million of U. S. gold when the side-wheel steamer SS Central America (also known as the Ship of Gold) sank in 1857 off the coast of North Carolina during a hurricane, in combination with the concepts of Manifest Destiny and National Enlightenment, drove people to the Western United States in search of wealth and possible reinvention of one’s self.  Results of this influx of people were quick growth and rapid changes in the development of mining and the establishment of the Colorado Central Railroad.  Seemingly before one’s eyes, mining camps became vibrant towns with civic services and cultural depth.  Under the protection of carefully planted and groomed shade trees, opera houses and dance halls enticed, hotels and boarding houses accommodated, stores and restaurants served, and churches and schools instructed .


The book is richly illustrated with imagery spanning a period of approximately 120 years.  In this amount of time, one is able to witness feverish building and, conversely, the brevity of many mining structures once they were deserted, dismantled, or destroyed.  In contrast to the distant views, some of the photographs offer details of human faces that disclose poverty as well as prosperity in these multi-ethnic mining communities.  It seems possible to detect boosterism and exuberance due to the belief that mining resources would provide limitless potential.  No matter one’s station in life, people shared a conviction that mining was important, and raised a monument at Idaho Springs, Colorado to commemorate the 1859 discovery of placer gold by George A. Jackson.  Even though it was moved from its original site, the monument presently stands a stone’s throw from Highway 103 in Idaho Springs.


Although not as plentiful as the distant views, Mr. Dugan provides some underground views of tunnels.  One cannot help but notice the dangerous and oftentimes life-threatening conditions surrounding hard rock miners.  It remains well-known that Clear Creek County resident Louis Dupuy was mangled in 1873 by a delayed “big powder” or dynamite charge at the Cold Stream Mine in Silver Plume.  The defective fuse caused life-threatening injuries that required his hospitalization and a period of recovery of nearly one and one half years.  Credited for saving fellow miners’ lives by calling out a warning, Dupuy emerged a local hero.  Townspeople rewarded his bravery with a small amount of cash, which he used to open his hotel and restaurant, described by the Georgetown Courier as “famous the wide world over.”  Due to this brush with death, Dupuy never returned to underground mining.  Yet, in spite of his misfortune, he later invested in mining claims within the Griffith Mining District of Clear Creek County. A Bausch & Lomb microscope, used for the inspection of ore, remains on display in Hotel de Paris to this day.  Clearly, the allure of riches was great.


Despite the abundance of abandoned tailings (dumps of ore residue) and derelict mining structures scattered throughout the landscape today, it would be wrong to assume mining has become a thing of the past in Clear Creek County.   Dugan completes his book with a chapter about the Climax, Henderson, and Uranium Research and Development Corporation mines.  The mining of molybdenum (a steel hardener) has largely replaced the extraction of silver and gold from the rugged mountainsides, and, at the same time, corporations have largely replaced single miners.





Clearly, Mines of Clear Creek County seeks to raise appreciation of mining history and society; however, some attention is also given to negative environmental impacts, such as polluted mine waste.  The book provides readers with a specific language that should encourage a deeper understanding of the picturesque mining towns that so often struggle to survive after their mines close and mining corporations move on to new locales.  Mr. Dugan should be commended for acknowledging failures and celebrating victories inherent to mining culture in the American West.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at hoteldeparismuseum.org.  Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website.  Thank you!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why Does an Off Season Exist?

Every year, the advisors and staff of Hotel de Paris Museum struggle with a seasonal dilemma.  However much we’d like the museum to remain open year round, there is simply not enough demand to support the costs of giving tours when few people show interest in the site from January to April. 

Research provided by the American Alliance of Museums has shown it costs museums an average of over $30 per person to serve a visitor.  Hotel de Paris Museum charges $5 general admission and offers discounts.  Clearly, there is a discrepancy between these amounts.  Nonetheless, based on what is charged at the other Sites of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we don’t believe the public would pay more than what is presently being asked.

Compounding the problem is the trend of less discretionary spending on museums (down 9% from Q1 2007 - Q1 2011).  House museums have been struggling with drops in income much higher than this and are permanently closing at record rates.  Hotel de Paris Museum is not in danger of closing, but these facts are of concern.

Unfortunately, it is the casual visitor who we are not able to serve during our off season.  Yet, if casual visitors to Georgetown, Colorado contacted the museum ahead of time, they would find that we are really never closed. 

The good news is we want the museum to be open more.  The trick is how to do so without creating a financial strain from which it cannot recover.  In 2010, Hotel de Paris Museum was open 100 days; in 2011 and in 2012, it was open about 145 days each of those years, and in 2013 we plan on opening the museum approximately 160 days.  The other thing we’ve done is to open when there is a person interested enough to contact us a few days ahead in order to make a reservation and secure a guide (several times this past winter, tours were scheduled for people who made plans to visit). 

There is nothing we like more than to share the remarkable resource we have here at Louis Dupuy's Hotel de Paris.  Our challenge is not waiting for winter visitors who might or might not materialize, but to work towards increasing interest in the museum during the "off season" we ourselves perpetuate.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at hoteldeparismuseum.org.  Just click the green "DONATE NOW" button on our website.  Thank you!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lounging About: Improved, Adjustable Folding Chairs Receive High Marks


Hotel de Paris Museum's collection of convertible furniture is a perennial favorite of visitors to the site.  With a history steeped in Napoleon Bonaparte's French Campaign in the Orient, and later adapted to the needs of railroads in the United States (as well as the style-conscious American middle class and space-constrained urban dwellers), it is no wonder proprietor Louis Dupuy furnished his world-famous hotel with these clever and inventive objects.




Country Living Magazine included in its June 2012 edition information about a late 19th Century chaise longue (seen above, without upholstery) by Cevedra Blake Sheldon, an inventor and architect from New York City.  Sheldon sold his idea to Marks Adjustable Folding Chair Company, which improved the design and patented the product in 1876.

The Marks Improved Adjustable Folding Chair came in a variety of styles that offered “solid comfort” and “luxurious ease.”  The mechanics of the chair allowed it to be adjusted by means of a lever located at the seat rail.  The manufacturer promoted its chairs for use in parlors and libraries.  It appears that by the end of 1900, Louis Dupuy had placed his Marks chair in Sample Room 2 (by this time, Louis had stopped renting his sample rooms to traveling salesmen and began using the space for reading and writing).



Several months after Louis' death in October 1900, an inventory for the sake of appraisement was taken; this document confirms the presence of an “iron folding chair and cushions” in the room where the chair remains to this day.


Louis, an avid cigar smoker, probably read the provocative question posed by Marks: “What thoroughbred American gentleman smoker can…not appreciate the luxury of an after-dinner Havana?  It [the folding chair] is the smoker’s paradise…”  Like many companies today, Marks used its catalogs to paint a picture of comfort, durability, style, and choice; therefore, sales were made by suggesting a desirable lifestyle.

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