A Historic Colorado Hotel in Canon City Is Getting a Makeover | Westword

Hopes Are High for Cañon City's St. Cloud Hotel

From loser to luxury.
The St. Cloud Hotel in Cañon City.
The St. Cloud Hotel in Cañon City. Unbridled
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You'll soon be able to belly up to a restored bar inside the historic St. Cloud Hotel at 631 Main Street in Cañon City, a town of 17,000 people largely known for its penitentiary industry. But hospitality could soon give prisons a run for their money.

The St. Cloud Hotel was built in Silver Cliff during a silver boom, but when that went bust, the hotel saw few guests. In 1887, the building was taken apart brick by brick and moved 47 miles to Cañon City, where it was put back together and became a luxury retreat compared to most other hotels in Colorado. It had running water, heat, electricity, an elevator and horse-drawn carriages that would take guests from the train to the hotel, where a dining room and thirty guest rooms awaited them.

The building has gone through several owners and almost as many names over the years. It's been the Hotel Denton, the Miller Hotel and Hotel Cañon. It has also been used for apartments and retail stores, and even served as state headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan in 1927. But in recent years, it fell into disrepair, and Unbridled, a corporate event-planning company headquartered in Denver, bought it from a nonprofit in 2018 for $88,000.

Unbridled is in the process of restoring the St. Cloud into a hotel with multiple bars and a restaurant. A study will hide a speakeasy; chandeliers will illuminate a restored 1883 bar. Though the renovations to the building will be major, Unbridled will work to preserve the historic character of the building as best it can. Along with the bar, the wood for the floor in the guest rooms will be made of black walnut, a tree that used to thrive in Cañon City until a blight wiped it out.

But it's taken a lot of work to get this far.
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The hotel's historic bar should reopen December 16.
"It probably wasn't worth $88,000," jokes Stan Bullis, founding partner of Unbridled, who says the hotel was "literally collapsing in on itself" when Unbridled started working on it.

"Usually when you’re doing historic preservation, you’re like, 'I don’t really care what it looks like on the outside, I just need to know it has good bones,'" Bullis says. "We thought it had good bones, but it didn’t."

After digging up the foundation, repairing and replacing walls and getting rid of asbestos, the company had already blown through a few million dollars. "That sort of became the basis of...raising our flags to say we need some help on this project," Bullis recalls. So Unbridled filled out an application for a Colorado Community Revitalization Grant in October 2021.

St. Cloud received a grant of $3 million; it's also using $3 million in historic tax credits and $2.5 in new market tax credits to fund the project. The tax credits come from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the same office that issues the community revitalization grants. But that won't be enough to cover the entire renovation, which Bullis estimates will run about $15 million.
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St. Cloud Hotel.
Cañon City is best known for its penitentiary industry (it has eleven correctional facilities), and Unbridled is trying to add hospitality to that list. Since 2018, it's opened seven other businesses, including Fremont Provisions, a farm-to-table restaurant and the Post Office, an event venue in a former post office. "We saw Cañon City growing in this unique way," Bullis says, "and we thought, 'They’re not gonna make that turn unless they get some hospitality in there.'"

But Unbridled works with the incarceration industry, too: Bullis hires people just coming out of the prison system to work on his projects. At the St. Cloud, they're working on the bar restoration and making wooden tables that will go in the dining room.

The plan calls for opening the hotel in three phases, starting with the restored bar, which is slated to open this month. The restaurant and the speakeasy should open next fall, and the 36 rooms by spring 2024.

According to Bullis, the Unbridled team loves the hospitality industry and enjoys renovating historic buildings. Its offices are located at the Grant St. Mansion, 1115 Grant Street, and the Josephine Mansion, 1400 Josephine Street, both Victorian-era buildings that the company restored.

Bullis lives in Franktown and commutes to Cañon City several times a week. "I think it's a victim of bad PR," he says. "Most people say, 'Oh, it’s just a prison town, why would you go there?' But I found a deep, deep, connection here in Cañon City with the residents that just believe in this town and are hopeful that we can all steward it well."
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