The Strater Hotel

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Discover The Strater Hotel, which was first built by Ohio pharmacist Henry Strater.

The Strater Hotel, a charter member of Historic Hotels of America since 1989, dates back to 1887

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The Strater Hotel was constructed at a time when the United States was defined by great economic prosperity, industrial expansion, and significant social reform.

Part of the Main Avenue Historic District in downtown Durango, The Strater Hotel’s rich history stretches back over a century. This fantastic historic hotel emerged at a time when the community of Durango was undergoing a dramatic transformation from a remote mining town to a modern municipality. And while many in Durango feared this change, Henry Strater embraced it. A pharmacist who had recently emigrated from Ohio, Strater saw many opportunities for prosperity in Durango’s future. To realize this vision, Strater decided to construct a grand hotel that would cater to the town’s new economy. With some help from his brothers Fred and Frank—as well as his father Antone—Henry Strater started building his new hotel just two blocks from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Armed with a budget of $70,000, Strater used only the best red bricks and hand-carved sandstone that he could find. When The Strater Hotel finally opened in 1887, each room featured its own wood-burning stove and some of the finest furniture found in the West.

The Strater Hotel soon emerged as the main social gathering spot in Durango, thanks in large part to the management of H.L. Rice. Strater himself had no intention of ever running the hotel. So, he leased the rights to operate the location to Rice. This partnership quickly collapsed though, as competing business interests pitted the two men against one another. Strater had set up his new pharmacy in a corner of The Strater Hotel and had neglected to remove it from the lease. Rice subsequently exacted large rental fees, which greatly infuriated the pharmacist. As such, Strater developed another enterprise called the Columbian Hotel just down the road, in an attempt to financially ruin his former business partner. But the pitched battle came to an anticlimactic end when the Panic of 1893 drove them both out of business.

In the wake of The Strater Hotel’s bankruptcy, the Bank of Cleveland repossessed the building and sold it to Hattie Mashburn and Charles E. Stilwell. Together, the two managed to drag The Strater Hotel out of its financial doldrums. By the 1920s, it was back to being among the most fantastic places to stay in the region. The hotel started attracting noteworthy clientele from across the country as such. Among their number included author Louis L’Amour, who frequently stayed in Room 222 to find inspiration for his novels about the Old American West.

A group of local businessmen led by Earl Baker Jr. took note of the hotel’s newfound success, and decided to purchase the location for themselves in 1926. Over time, Earl Baker Jr. eventually became the sole proprietor of The Strater Hotel.

Alongside his wife Jentra, Baker began a major series of renovations that ultimately saved the hotel. They introduced many modern amenities, while also taking great pains to preserve its historical integrity. Perhaps the greatest contribution that Earl and Jentra Baker made was the addition of authentic American walnut furniture from the Gilded Age. Their diligent pursuit for this décor has led to it becoming the largest collection of its kind in the entire world. The furniture brilliantly captivates the special rustic charm that first graced the hotel during the 1880s. The Strater Hotel today is currently operated by the third generation of the Baker family, who continue to protect the building’s rich heritage for future generations to appreciate.

  • Famous Historic Guests +
    Louis L’Amour, renowned American novelist known for writing such works about the Old American West like Jubal Sackett, Hondo and Silver Canyon.

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