The public will get a look at the historic preservation of the American House Hotel Parlor at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22. But they’ll have to take the gorgeous drive up to St. Elmo to see it.
The unveiling of the interior exhibits marks the end of a more than two-year renovation effort, part of the continued preservation efforts of the St. Elmo Historic District in Chaffee County. Founded in 1880, the town, which is now a historic district, lies at the end of the Chalk Creek Canyon. It is known as Colorado’s best-preserved ghost town, and some say, most haunted.
The town of St. Elmo sits at an elevation of 9,961 feet. When mining for gold and silver was at the height of its activity, nearly 2,000 people called the town home.
In its heyday, St. Elmo had hotels, grocery stores, churches, a school and several civic organizations, including its own band. The Mary Murphy Mine, located between St. Elmo and Hancock was a major source of mining activity. The Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad served St. Elmo, traveling through the Alpine Tunnel across the Continental Divide. That mine continued to operate until the rail line was shut down in 1922.
All that remains of the American House Hotel is the parlor. The original hotel was a two-story structure and the parlor was less than a quarter of the hotel’s lower level. It was built around 1881, the year after the town was founded. Until 1887 it was owned by E.P. Whitney. In 1941 Anthony Stark purchased the remnants of the hotel and preserved the parlor. A grant was obtained in early 2016 to repair the structure, with the hope of opening it for visitors in the summer months.
Chaffee County currently has 28 properties on the National Register, including the entire downtown Salida Historic District and St. Elmo Historic District. Fifteen locations, including St. Elmo, are listed on the State Register.
For more about St. Elmo go to www.coloradotraveltips.com/stelmotour4