The Strater Hotel
In the late 1870s and 1880s, Durango was enjoying a reputation as a gold and silver boomtown. Cleveland pharmacist Henry Strater was lured westward and quickly envisioned a grand hotel that would serve the bustling town. Although underage and lacking in funds, Strater was not easily deterred. He added a few years to his age, borrowed the money and forged ahead with the help of his brothers. The Strater soon became a popular winter retreat, as local townsfolk closed their homes during the long winter months and took up residence in the hotel.
Each room had its own wood-burning stove and a few were even equipped with pianos and private washstands. In 1895, the Silver Panic resulted in widespread financial devastation for the town. The hotel was repossessed and subsequently sold to Hattie Mashburn and Charles E. Stilwell who ushered in a new era of elegance by hosting fine dinners and operas. The hotel was a favorite of renowned Western author Louis L’Amour, who always requested Room 222, directly above the Diamond Belle Saloon, because he said the honky-tonk music helped to inspire him.
In 1926, the Strater was bought by Earl A. Barker, Sr. who began yet another round of upgrades and renovations. The property has remained under the loving care of the Barker family for more than 70 years.