August 17, 2015
We have a great deal of information about how multiple generations of the Bosco family established and operated the Star Hotel, the predecessor to The Hotel Denver. In honor of our 100th Anniversary, we have been researching the other key pioneer that created The Hotel Denver as well as a lot of Glenwood Springs history; Art Kendrick. In 1938, competitors and friends Mike Bosco and Art Kendrick merged the neighboring Star and the Denver hotels when the Bosco’s bought out the Kendrick’s. The story, however, started long before that.
Art Kendrick was a young boy in Illinois when General George Custer came through his hometown on his way west. Because of that encounter, Art wanted to go west in the worst way. In 1879 at age eight, Art was rewarded when his father, Thomas, moved to Leadville, Colorado. Thomas worked in Leadville’s Clarendon Hotel until 1885, when he moved his family to Glenwood Springs. A 40 by 60 foot tent along the river was built, and the Kendrick rooming house was thereby established. The town of Glenwood Springs was also established that year and the first city council meeting was held at the Kendrick house. The rooming house enterprise expanded, and by the turn of the century the Kendrick Cottages, were elite tourist homes in a lovely wooded area near where the courthouse currently stands.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Art Kendrick began his hotel career as a bellhop for the Hotel Glenwood in the late 1880’s. The job involved answering calls from the ailing Doc Holliday, and Doc tipped him “pretty good”. At Hotel Glenwood, he also met his future wife, Mary who was working as a maid.
Art and Mary spent years saving up enough money to lease the second and third floors of McCissack Grocery Store, directly opposite the “new” train station on Riverfront Street. The property was close to the middle of a block that was in a flurry of development following the completion of the Denver and Rio Grande Passenger Depot in 1904. In addition to the grocery store, the block was occupied by numerous small structures housing saloons, restaurants and rooming houses catering to miners and travelers.
The Kendrick’s were successful enough to purchase the building they had been leasing. In 1906 they purchased their first addition to the property, the Ryan’s Restaurant lots, where the restaurant had recently burned to the ground. A 1906 Avalanche Echo front page article wrote of the imminent erection of a modern, up-to-date brick addition which would be “a top-notcher in every respect”. It appears as though that addition was not complete until 1913.
Prohibition began January 1, 1916, rendering the closing of several of the bars on the block. Art acquired the remaining lots to the west and doubled the size of the hotel. A 1922 ambitious remodel included the mosaic tile, the building’s first elevator, and lighting on the outside to rival the Denver Gas and Electric Building. The lobby was moved to the west end and a ladies parlor was added. Seventy five guest rooms were now in use. The current Hotel Denver, which is double the size of the 1922 property, has 68 rooms. Those seventy five rooms must have been small! They were, however considered some of the best modern rooms on the Western Slope.
On the east part of the block, Henry Bosco built the Star Hotel building in 1915. Bosco and Kendrick weathered the Great Depression together as neighbors and best of friends. By 1938, Mary Kendrick had probably had enough, and talked Mike Bosco into purchasing The Denver Hotel side of the block. The Hotel Denver again almost doubled in size, and Art and Mary Kendrick were able to retire, confident that their life-long work was in good hands.