Cañon City Gets A Facelift With Revamp Of Historic Sites
A handful of historic buildings in Cañon City, a town once used as the backdrop for movies like The Miracle Rider and John Wayne’s True Grit, are being renovated in an effort to pay tribute to its rugged history.
Unbridled Contractors plans to restore the Hotel St. Cloud at 631 Main St., the Abstract Title Building across the street, the Annex Building two blocks from the hotel, the original post office building and Freemont Middle School.
Unbridled hired architecture firm Johnson Nathan Strohe to redesign the Hotel St. Cloud and reopen it as a four-star, 42-key boutique hotel. The company, which paid $80K for the hotel last summer, plans to break ground by the end of the year, with completion slated for April 2022.
A small addition will be built onto the back of the hotel for additional guest rooms and the enlargement of existing rooms. The project also includes a restaurant, restoration of the existing bar and a new bar in the front of the building.
“When we work with historic buildings, we are very interested in tying into the history and bringing it back with modern amenities,” Johnson Nathan Strohe principal Tobias Strohe said. “We’re really trying to honor a lot of the history that the historic building has already. We’re trying to use local materials or raw materials. The developer is engaging in the community and working with local companies to provide some of those products.”
The second floor of the Annex Building has a historic ballroom that will be converted to a restaurant and event venue. The company is partnering with Fremont Center for the Arts to repurpose the old Post Office as an event venue, and Fremont High School will become a business incubator.
The Hotel St. Cloud wasn’t always in the Fremont County town of Cañon City. It originally was located 30 miles away, but when the silver mines closed, the hotel’s owners relocated it to Cañon City. Many of the stars in the movies filmed in Cañon City stayed at the hotel when they were on location, but in the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan took over the hotel for its headquarters.
Unbridled CEO Stan Bullis said his goal is to restore the town’s hospitality industry and give the 550,000 tourists that visit the Royal Gorge each year a place to stay.
“Restoring the hotel will give the local community a place to gather and attract some visitors,” Bullis said. “We’re attempting to revitalize and influence the culture through hospitality.”
While Cañon City once was known as a mecca for Westerns, today it is better known for being a prison town that houses criminals like the Unabomber, the Boston Bomber and the man who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993.
Unbridled has created 23 companies, including Unbridled Connect, Unbridled Productions, Unbridled Media and Unbridled Wealth. The businesses commit 20% — over $1.5M since September 2001 — of their profits to a nonprofit organization.
Unbridled has created a culture designed to unleash the full potential of its employees, Bullis said.
“We were attracted to Cañon City because over half the county is either in prison or works for the prison system,” Bullis said. “Our companies have created a culture designed to set people free. It’s incredibly intriguing.”