Many of the furnishings and fixtures in the Hotel St. Nicholas provide a window on the past, allowing guests to experience aspects of life in an 1890’s mountain gold-rush town. As you walk through the hotel look for some of these restored period furnishings and memorabilia.
Boiler Room Tavern Back Bar - The hotel’s original coal fired boiler now decorates the tavern’s back bar. Manufactured by the American Radiator Company of Chicago around 1895, the original boiler weighed over 1000 pounds and used up to 100 pounds of coal per day. The American Radiator Company is still going strong today. In 1929 the company merged with The Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company, and is now know as American Standard, producer of bath and kitchen fixtures.
Boiler Room Tavern Wall Photo – While in the tavern view the large photo-mural shot inside a local Cripple Creek tavern around 1900. Taken during the height of the gold rush, the photo provides a look at a turn-of-the-century bar that includes an African-American bar tender. Black Americans made up a significant portion of Cripple Creek’s population in 1900, contributing considerably to the town’s growth.
Mine Hoist Signals Poster – In the days before widespread phone or radio use, signal bells allowed communications between surface-hoist operators and underground miners. Hoist signals were so critical to mine safety that they were standardized for all Colorado mines. A framed mine hoist signals poster, circa 1935, is located on the ground floor hallway.
Gold-Era Iron Safe – Circa 1900, the hotel's massive safe, located in the hotel office, was manufactured by the Herring-Hall-Massey Company, and is believed to have been in use in Cripple Creek for more than 100 years. This working safe was manufactured in a era when security and art mixed. Ask to see the safe’s painted designs on both the outer and inner doors. The Herring-Hall-Massey Company was founded in New York City in 1841, and operated for over 100 years until purchased in 1959 by the Diebold Company, a modern-day manufacturer of bank vaults, ATM’s and voting machines.
Original Architectural Drawing by John J. Huddart - At the turn of the century one of the leading Denver architects was British-born and trained John J. Huddart. Noted for his Classical Revival and Richardsonian Romanesque-style designs, his many landmarks included the Charles Boettcher House in Denver, Colorado's Fort Morgan State Armory, Denver's Filbeck Building, and six Colorado county courthouses. Huddart's work for the Catholic Church's Denver Archdiocese included Denver's St. Thomas Theological Seminary and Cripple Creek's Hotel St. Nicholas. Huddart's original drawings for the St. Nicholas, drawn in 1896, are displayed in the main lobby.
Cripple Creek Panorama Photo – Located in the hall outside the office, this 1892 photo, shot from the hills surrounding the town, shows a panorama of Cripple Creek just two years after the gold rush began. The original St. Nicholas hospital was 6 years from completion when the photo was taken.
Original Hospital Regulations – Displayed on the ground floor hallway opposite the office, the original hospital regulations, established by the Sisters of Mercy, provides a flavor for both the healthcare standards and social customs of the day. Patients were advised that “loud conversation, unseemly noise, all conduct violating the ordinary rules of propriety, also…promenading in the halls, was forbidden”. Medical costs were somewhat lower in 1898. Private hospital rooms cost $12 to $15 per week. Use of the surgical room cost patients an additional $3 to $6 per day!
Great Fire of 1896 Photograph – Before 1896 Cripple Creek was a “wooden” town. Two major fires in April, 1896, burned most of the town, leading to a rebuilt brick Bennett Avenue, and the St. Nicholas Hospital. An April 25, 1896 photograph, located by the ground floor side entrance, captures the excitement and terror on Bennett Avenue at the height of the fire.
While these are some of the most visible historic memorabilia, the Hotel contains other period photographs and items of interest for guests. Enjoy your own explorations of the Hotel St. Nicholas, Cripple Creek’s first town hospital and restored historic hotel.