Downtown Durango, Colorado Old West Walking Tour
Mosey on up historic Main Avenue to see the premier historic buildings from the late 19th/early 20th century.
The General Palmer Hotel was built in Durango in 1898. The hotel is named for its founder, William Jackson Palmer. Palmer was the engineer and Civil War general who founded Colorado Springs in 1870 and began the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Company. The building and many of the rooms in the main portion of the hotel are furnished with antiques from the late Victorian era. The fanciest room contains a red rocking chair that Teddy Roosevelt supposedly favored on his visits to Durango for business or for hunting and fishing.
The Strater Hotel has towered over downtown Durango since its completion in 1887. Constructed of red brick with hand-carved sandstone cornices and sills, this landmark structure is part of the Main Avenue National Register Historic District and is also home to a local history museum filled with artifacts and memorabilia. The antique furniture and historic furnishings throughout the hotel are part of the hotel's allure and offer the largest collection of Victorian American-made walnut furniture in the world. The eclectic style of the imposing building combines elements of Italianate Romanesque and Renaissance detailing. The hotel has been called one of the world's most beautiful buildings and one of the most prominent historic hotels in Colorado.
The two-story, red brick building that houses the Rochester Hotel was built in three stages. The original part dates to 1890 to 1892, when it was named "Peeples Hotel." This makes the Rochester one of the oldest hotels in Durango. Additions were made around 1909 and 1920. The building's exterior was restored in the early 1990s to its 1940s appearance. The interior was gutted and redone into more spacious hotel rooms with individual bathrooms. The building was listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, as an example of the town's commerce in the first half of the nineteenth century. The building functioned then as a hotel or boarding house frequented by travelers or salesmen of limited means.
The Newman Block is a three-story sandstone building in the 800 block of Main Avenue. Constructed from 1891 to 1892 by Charles Newman, the building is Richardsonian Romanesque in style. The original tenant of the Newman Block was Smelter National Bank, which lasted only five years before succumbing to the aftereffects of the Silver Crash of 1893. Durango National Bank had their turn in the building, too, but they ended up closing. In 1928, the building was converted into the Kiva Theater. 20th Century Fox bought the theater in the 1930s, where movies were shown into the 1980s. Since the 1990s, the building has offered retail spaces on the first floor and office space on the upper stories.
This narrow Italianate building was completed in 1892 and and served as the city's premiere hotel for many decades. The hotel was the site of future heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey's knockout of prominent boxer Andy Malloy in 1915. A historic mural of the bout on the Tenth Street facade has been restored, along with many other architectural features. The building has served a number of roles in the past century, being home to a saloon, post office, and bank, among other purposes. Restored at a cost of over a hundred thousand dollars in 2001, the building could have been lost in a 2006 fire. The building has been home to a popular local watering hole on the first floor for many years.
The Main Street Furnishings Building, at 1015 Main Avenue in Durango, was once the location of the Balthasar Kern Saloon. The building is considered one of the most historic within the Main Avenue National Register of Historic Places Historic District, covering the southern seven blocks of the street. The building until recently housed the Animas Trading Company store on the first floor.