Hotel Canon

Article as seen in The Sunday Chieftain

September 16, 1984 By Karen McAlpin

Researched by Marty Vyn Boennighausen


"Hotel Canon once was moved, brick by brick, from Silver Cliff"

CANON CITY - The Hotel Canon here once housed a Ku Klux Klan newspaper. It also was once a thriving business in Silver Cliff, a community about 20 miles to the south.

According to historian W.T. Little, the St. Cloud hotel, as it was named in Silver Cliff, had a short lived business life there.

The hotel was built in 1880 when mining in the area was in full swing. The St. Cloud competed with two other first-class hotels in Silver Cliff, accommodating miners, dance-hall girls and business and professional people.

At that time, Silver Cliff was being considered as the site for the state capital. It was a booming town with about six or seven ore treating mills and numerous businesses, and was part of a stagecoach line.

Within a few short years, however, Silver Cliff changed.

A railroad depot expected to be built in Silver Cliff was instead put in a spot to the west where the community of Westcliffe sprung up. And the railroad from Canon City to Westcliffe was never extended to Silver Cliff.

Silver Cliff was soon faced with financial problems, in part because of the railroad route, but also because of a slowdown in mining.

But even the railroad was soon faced with its own hardships, as passenger traffic diminished and washouts threatened its existence.

With the community on the decline, the owners of the St. Cloud decided to move to Canon City - hotel and all.

The hotel was taken apart in 1887 and the bricks, windows, window frames, door frames, floors and fixtures were transported to Canon City by train. The owners decided to rebuild the hotel at Seventh and Main, where it still stands.

Apparently, the hotel was moved just in time. As history has it, the railroad was flooded out and abandoned in 1888.

Since the turn of the century, some 15 different people have owned the Hotel Canon, a structure that was rebuilt to its original architectural drawings.

In the early 1900s, owners included J.A. Armor, Anna Endres, H.J. Willard, Janet Bunten, Joseph Gannett and Frank Manning.

In 1916, a man named J.E. Miller owned the hotel and changed its name to Miller Hotel. After its purchase in 1923 by a Mr. and Mrs. R.C. Downing, the name was returned to Hotel Canon.

Other owners include Anderson Shore, Frances Wildgen, Ida Shore, Ben Thayre, Ed Geary, Mr. and Mrs. Dale Dimmitt, and Mr. and Mrs. Christopherson.

Immediately after the hotel was moved to Canon City, the proprietor bought a horse and large carriage to transport customers from the train deport to the hotel.

For a period of time, the hotel also advertised itself as "The Health Seekers Resort" and became a popular place for some 20 years. The hotel was also popular because of its involvement in the motion-picture industry. Stars such as Tom Mix, Myrtle Steadman, Bill Duncan and Joe Ryan stayed in the hotel, as did movie staff.

During the 1940s and '50s, the hotel served as the headquarters for several moviemakers who were filming in the area. Scott Brady, the star of "Canon City," lived at the hotel while they were filming the movie about the prison break of 1947.

Other famous guests of the hotel have included Burt Lancaster, Slim Pickins and Charles Bronson.

Other businesses have operated out of the hotel over the years as well. Banks, barber shops, dress shops, beauty shops, gift shops and a doctor's office have rented space in the hotel.

One of the more interesting of the businesses housed there was the Ku Klux Klan. According to Little, the Klan's influence was great on businesses in the area.

The Rambler Print Shop, which also was located in the hotel building, printed a small Klan newspaper. But by the 1930's the paper had lost much of its business and finally sold out to its competitor, the Daily Record, and the paper was eliminated.

Klansman also ran their own bank from the Hotel Canon. However, it closed only a few years later during the Depression.

Today, the Hotel Canon is a combination hotel and apartment house. Carol Seal, hotel employee, said the rooms on the fourth floor have been converted to apartments, while the bottom three floors are still hotel rooms. Currently, there are 31 rooms an six apartments in the building.

The Hotel Canon, more than 105 years old, is said to be one of the oldest hotels in the state that is still in operation, and probably the only hotel in the state to ever serve two cities.

Its current owners are Ralph and Fran Giem.