The Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley, the influential industrialist who is best known for the Stanley Steamer automobile. This luxurious hotel catered to the rich, famous, and powerful throughout the 20th century. While the hotel was only open in the summer months in the first half of the 20th century, it is now a year-round resort. This resort is located in Estes Park, Colorado and is surely hard to miss. Its bright red roof and palace style architecture make it stand out amongst other locations in the valley.
Stanley Hotel Front
Backstory and Context
Freelan Oscar Stanley, a successful entrepreneur credited with pioneering the steam-powered automobile, found himself battling tuberculosis in 1903. His doctor prescribed a change to a drier and fresher climate, leading Stanley and his wife, Flora, to embark on a journey to Denver, Colorado. Their explorations eventually led them to Estes Park, where not only were they enchanted by the breathtaking views but also witnessed a remarkable improvement in Freelan's health. Motivated by these discoveries, the couple decided to make Estes Park a yearly visit. However, they found the valley's accommodations rather boring and below their standards. In response, they embarked on their endeavor of constructing what we now recognize as the Stanley Hotel. This magnificent building boasts 140 rooms, complete with entertainment options like a bar area a grand ballroom and banquet hall. Opening their doors to business associates, employees, and friends, all were awed by the hotel's stunning architecture and modern features such as electricity, bathroom suites, and uniformed maids. For Freelan Stanley, this project was not just a business venture; it was a source of immense joy to share with others. Besides gifting Estes Park with this grand hotel, Stanley's ingenuity also gave rise to waterworks, power plants, and civic organizations within the valley.
However, the narrative of the Stanley Hotel isn't always positive, many know it to be a scary place filled with frightful experiences. In 1970, the renowned author Stephen King and his wife, Tabatha, sought a weekend retreat and chose the Stanley Hotel for their stay, which happened to be its last open night before winter. King's stay was marred by a series of nightmarish visions, featuring animated fire hoses and a haunting image of his son fleeing from him. These experiences served as the inspiration for King's bestselling novel, "The Shining," meticulously detailing the unsettling events of their stay. King occupied room 217, which itself contains a ghostly history. The head maid, Elizabeth Wilson, had entered the room with a lit candle, unknowingly igniting a gas leak that caused a violent explosion. Although Wilson survived her injuries, she is believed to linger in the hotel to this day, particularly in room 217. Presently, the hotel offers intriguing hour-long haunted tours after sunset and occasionally extends the opportunity for guests to lodge in rooms renowned for their haunted activities.
Unfortunately, at age 91 Freelan experienced a fatal heart attack. However, the story of the Stanley Hotel weaves a tapestry of both highs and lows, and undeniably, Freelan Stanley left a mark on the history of Estes Park indefinetely. His innovative spirit allows people from around the world to engage with a piece of history that takes them on an enthralling journey filled with twists and turns. Whether one seeks a chilling experience or an exploration of the Stanleys' lives, this attraction offers a spectrum of experiences to suit every visitor's curiosity.
, Stanley Hotel Office. A spirited history , Estes Park Hotel. Accessed October 20th, 2023. https://www.stanleyhotel.com/about.html.
McGuire, Patrick . The Stanley Hotels Haunted History, Uncover Colorado. October 4th, 2023. Accessed October 20th, 2023. https://www.uncovercolorado.com/stanley-hotel-haunted-history/.