History comes alive in historic Colorado Springs at Holden House and beyond

Innkeeper Owner Sallie Clark gets in the spirit of the 150th Anniversary and sesquicentennial of Colorado Springs dressed for women’s suffrage for the City’s recent celebration parade.

Some may remember the popular public television show, “This Old House”. Years ago, when we were researching and restoring our 1902 Victorian, I was glued to the show, then hosted by Bob Vila with master carpenter Norm Abram and in awe of their expertise and focus on restoration, no matter how difficult the task. Then came the movie The Money Pit, featuring a young Tom Hanks and Shelley Long which my husband Welling always took the opportunity to jokingly refer during our initial restoration and renovation stages (and still occasionally mentions it today when repairs are required). Today, HGTV, subsequent streaming services and social media sites like Pinterest offer great decorating and restoration tips. All of these educational and entertainment options offer opportunities for appreciating the history and love of old homes like ours.  And, during that time, The Old House Journal was known for calling restoration, “the mushroom factor” by trying to change a lightbulb and ending up rewiring the entire house.

When we started looking for homes to purchase and open a B&B, the romance of owning a Victorian bed and breakfast inn was underscored by publications like Victorian Homes, Country Living and Victoria magazine.  And, while the romance of the past may have been a bit misplaced when reality set in, the personal enjoyment in continuing to share our 35 plus years in business with guests, overshadows the difficulties we’ve had along the way.  In 1985, when we first came to Colorado Springs, we also saw the potential economic impact that preservation offered in the City’s redevelopment project of Old Colorado City historic district and the town focus on historic preservation undertaken in quaint Manitou Springs, both areas just a few miles away from the future Holden House 1902 Bed & Breakfast Inn.

Fast forward to 2021. Our historic neighborhood has morphed into a plethora of restored Victorian and historic homes, expansion of businesses along West Colorado Avenue to include great restaurants only a few blocks from the inn and museums within a few miles including the Old Colorado City History Center and the Colorado Springs Pioneer’s Museum, both which offer glimpses into life during the early years and pioneer settlers like Isabel Holden, who built our turreted main house in 1902. According to West Word, the newsletter from the Old Colorado City Historical Society, “In 1858, the first transatlantic telegraph was sent, between Queen Victoria and President Buchanan. It said, ‘Europe and America are united by telegraph’…The Victorian era was a time of great change around the world. The Industrial revolution, growth of the railway, invention of the telegraph and electricity created a great deal of social change…”

The Old Colorado History Cente

The Old Colorado City History Center features an extensive bookstore

The Old Colorado History Center features an extensive bookstore as well as historical artifacts and displays

This free museum offers historians and history buffs the opportunity to purchase publications rich with Colorado history tales and reflections of early life in the state

Originally, the Old Colorado History Center, served as the First Baptist Church of Colorado City and was built in 1890. The building was listed on the Colorado Register of Historic Places in 1995 and was designed by well-known local architect Walter F. Douglas. Douglas built several buildings, homes and churches in Colorado Springs. The Old Colorado City Historical Society purchased the building in 1992 and has the mission of keeping the memories of Colorado City alive, encouraging research and celebrating the unique spirit of the old historic “Westside” today. This free local museum (open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm in summer and 11 am to 2 pm in winter) is located in the heart of the historic district of “Old Colorado City” and features displays, volunteer docents and a great bookstore with a large selection of books on Colorado and local historical figures. Its location is conveniently across the street from Bancroft Park, a small City of Colorado Springs pocket park that hosts Farmer’s Markets on Saturdays with fresh local produce, crafters and free concerts in the Park during the summer. The shops and restaurants in the area are eclectic and unique, with dining ranging from casual to upscale and as individual as the original pioneers of the region. The small cabin in Bancroft Park has the distinction of also having served as the first Territorial Capitol building in 1892, when Colorado was still considered a territory. A historical marker nearby tells the story.

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum was built as the original El Paso County Courthouse in 1903

This year, the City of Colorado Springs celebrates its sesquicentennial and 150th anniversary year. At the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, you’ll find an extensive historical collection of early times and an original restored courtroom, begging to its history as the first El Paso County, Colorado courthouse. If you’ve never had the opportunity to ride in a bird cage elevator, museum go-ers can take a short ride in the elevator. The historical timeline displays are worth your time with an overview of Colorado Springs’ colorful history with the building itself serving as an architectural showcase. The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Best of Gazette Holden HouseWherever your travels take you, we at Holden House 1902 Bed & Breakfast Inn are happy to welcome you to our 1902 Victorian built inn, located in the heart of Colorado Springs between downtown, very near to the historic district of Old Colorado City and just a few miles from Manitou Springs, where the Broadmoor and Manitou Pikes Peak Cog Railway boards. Our appreciation for the area and historic preservation have been worth the love and perseverance that has sustained our dedication to providing “The Romance of the Past with the Comforts of Today” and Holden House is the proud recipient of numerous awards including the Award of Excellence for Historic Preservation and Restoration from the Historic Preservation Alliance. We hope to see you soon to experience the beauty and especially the rich history of the Pikes Peak region.

-Sallie Clark, Innkeeper Owner