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“AND THEY’LL all want lifts to Brown’s Hotel, ’cause lots o’ them been travelin’ for quite a spell.”

Just as Judy Garland sang “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” so it was for those attending the 2012 Toyota Future Mobility Seminar. Denver’s historic Brown Palace Hotel was headquarters for this two-day event that included ZEV 3 (, a Boulder study on plug-in hybrids, a visit to the National Renewable Energy Lab and a great opportunity for collecting technical nuggets. These last three will be topics here in the next few days. In the meantime, here’s more on this neat venue.

Opened in 1892, the Brown Palace Hotel is included today in the National Register of Historic Places.

Built to optimize its triangular plot of real estate, Brown’s Italian Renaissance exterior is constructed of Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone.

It’s one of the first hotels to have an atrium interior. These days, elegant teas are served in the hotel’s handsome lobby. Its own artesian well, 720 ft. deep, supplies the drinking water for the kitchen and all room faucets.

Guests at Brown’s have included Queen Marie of Romania, every president since Teddy Roosevelt with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Barack Obama, Dr. Sun Yat Sen and the Beatles.

In 1911, the hotel was the site of high criminality, Colorado style. Frank Henwood shot and killed Sylvester Louis “Tony” von Phul—as well as a hapless bystander—in the hotel’s Marble Bar. It seems Frank and Tony were both sharing the affections of Denver socialite Isabel Springer, wife of wealthy businessman and political candidate John W. Springer. Not surprisingly, and speaking of hapless, I have been unsuccessful discovering anything more of candidate Springer’s career.

Guests in the 1890s were heavy into cardio without knowing it. There are elevators today. Also, note the ornate railings surrounding the atrium.

The hotel’s artful railings surrounding the atrium have a story. Likely out of whimsy, artisans installed two of these cast iron panels upside-down. (Years ago, Dottie and I had been told about this and discovered one on a visit.) I mentioned it to Toyota’s Jana Hartline and she in turn concocted a contest: The first person identifying a location of an upside-down panel to her would win a prize from Toyota “of indescribable value” together with mention here in

Here is one of Brown’s upside-down cast iron panels. But where exactly is it?

The winner is Bob Nagy, earlier and quite coincidentally included in one of my photos showing a historical mural above the elevators.

Prize winner Nagy is the fellow in glasses facing the camera; or it sure looks like Bob.

My congratulations to Bob, and I’m eager to learn about his prize.

There’s art in Brown’s seemingly at every turn.

The hotel has its own Historian and Archivist, Debra Faulkner. For more interesting tales about the Brown Palace, check out ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2012

2 comments on “BROWN PALACE HOTEL

  1. Bill Urban
    October 26, 2012

    Dennis, thanks. Can’tcha just hear that train whistle? The Brown Palace is my kind of hotel and is now on my list of destinations. It, and many other fine old hotels can be found at and . In the east, a favorite I have frequented is the Hotel Utica, and the 1807 Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, in the Finger Lakes area. These examples of irreplaceable American heritage deserve out support. And they are fun.

  2. Bill Urban
    January 31, 2013

    I must add what may be the finest destination in New Orleans, Le Pavillon. The mesmerizing lobby chandeliers are by themselves worth a visit if in town.They had been in storage and forgotten in Czechoslovakia, were discovered after the wall came down, and brought to this glorious setting.

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This entry was posted on October 20, 2012 by in Just Trippin' and tagged , , , .
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