May 27, 2015
At The Hotel Denver, we frequently get questions about “the bullet hole”. There were actually two, both inflicted by Diamond Jack Alterie, a Chicago gangster with numerous aliases including Two-Gun Louis, Louis Alterie, Leland Vrain, and Kid Haynes. Kid Haynes was the name used when he fought in small-town prize rings as a heavyweight. In the Chicago gangster world, he was a bodyguard for Dion O’Banion, who was in strict competition with Al Capone for the Chicago bootlegging business.
Jack arrived in Western Colorado in 1929, bringing with him a police record including kidnapping, homicide, burglary, and more. He was never convicted.
To become “a peaceful rancher with persons of culture around me,” Jack purchased a ranch near Gypsum, Colorado, name Sweetwater. He was quite possibly hiding from rival gang members, and purchased a fence strong enough to keep out livestock as well as “human rats”. Rumor has it that two machine guns, various grenades and 250 weapons were also available at the ranch. A story of one of his train trips to Sweetwater tells of Jack having a predilection for blondes so pronounced that when he discovered his travel companion was a bleached blonde, he threw her off the train.
When he visited Glenwood Springs, Diamond Jack loved to stay at The Hotel Denver. Hank Bosco, who was a young boy at the time, would accept gum and rides in the rumble seat of Jack’s slick red Lincoln convertible. That ended, however, when Hank’s mother found out.
No one knows the reason, but one time Diamond Jack came out of the Hotel Denver with his guns firing. A porter, Chuck Meehan, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a bullet grazed him along the temple. The bullet holes are still in the brick, but were covered by stucco during the 1983 remodel. Meehan recovered from the injury.
Forward to November 7, 1932, the night before the election when Roosevelt soundly beat Hoover. The Glenwood Post reported that “The quiet of Glenwood was broken on Monday night by the report that Jack Alterie had shot two men and beat up another, and Sheriff Winters was called from the K.O. hall where he was enjoying the Cafeteria dinner being served by the Catholic ladies”. At The Hotel Denver, the sheriff took Jack into custody without incident; gathering up two 45 automatics, two Colts and a small machine gun.
The events of the evening went something like this. Jack met a stranger in the bar named Whitey Hutton, who was a prize fighter, and who reportedly beat Jack to a pulp. Jack returned to his hotel room and came back with a rifle to settle the score. He was apprehended and disarmed by the Hotel Denver porter, Chuck Meehan. Jack retreated to his room, only to return with two 45 automatics. Meehan was badly beaten this time, and wrongly assuming that Hutton was behind the nearest hotel room door, Jack shot through the door and struck two salesmen travelling for International Harvester. One was hit in the thigh, and the other the calf. One of the salesmen later died from complications, which occurred after the sentencing. The door with the bullet was repaired, and ultimately found its way to a storage shed at a downtown Glenwood Springs home.
Justice was served quickly, and Jack was convicted of assault with intent to kill. He was fined $1,250 and given the choice of prison or leaving the state immediately. Five minutes after the verdict, Jack and his wife (surprisingly a brunette) left from the courthouse in their packed car. In 1935, Diamond Jack was killed in a violent shooting in Chicago.
If only the walls could talk.