Palace Hotel and Casino
Haunted Dwelling — Palace Hotel and Casino
172 Bennett Avenue
Cripple Creek, Colorado 80813
www.cripple-creek.org * www.visitcripplecreek.com
The closed Palace Hotel and Casino building can be found at the corner of First and Bennett Avenue almost directly across the street from Bronco Billy's Hotel, and about 2 blocks north of the old Teller County Jail Museum, and the 1902 , County Court Building, that is still being used as such.
At one time, it was a splendid building, built to attract gold barons, as one can see by the outside decor. This three story, rectangular brick building still has its fancy brickwork and dentils along the roof-line, the burgundy highlights around the windows and above the main door. The remains of a fancy gold detailing can still be seen above the top of the entrance. The first floor bricks are turquoise, with burgundy brick rows, that match the window burgundy highlights.
The first floor was used as a hotel lobby, a dining room, parlor, and also originally housed an in-house Pharmacy. When legalized limited gaming came to town; (Poker, blackjack and slot machines), the dining room became home to the slot machines. While the second and third floors were used as hotel rooms, more gaming rooms and another restaurant were located in the second brick building that used to exist right behind this building on First Street. Pictures from 2001 of the inside of the hotel portray a charming, turn-of-the-century inn, as the the Lays family who owned the property at this time worked hard to keep the decor faithful to its original roots.
But when this whole property was sold to Century Casino, a gaming outfit that is located in the building just across on the other side of First Street, the second, one/two story building was torn down because Century Casino needed another parking lot. Looking at the back of the present-day Palace Hotel, one can see a door on the second floor that must have opened into the former second building. There was also a first floor hallway that entered the second building, that has been bricked over.
Tearing down the remaining Palace Hotel building isn't an option though. Originally, that was the plan for both buildings, but because of the objections of the local Historical Society, this older, original hotel building was rescued from the wrecking ball. This remaining building is truly a huge fixer-upper opportunity, as it needs a boatload of investment funds to fix the roof, the pipes, the heat, and restore the interior. Sitting empty for 7 years hasn't been good for this historic building. Old buildings need continuous up-keep. Century Casino wants to use this building for their offices, but their jaws collectively dropped after seeing the price tag to make the building usable for more than being a place for ghost investigation groups to explore. They may decide that it is too far-gone inside to restore, and just gut the inside and start over, which is their right as owners, but a shame for historical enthusiasts.
The Palace Hotel was originally a wooden structure, built to be the town drug store, which explains why the words "Palace Pharmacy" can still be seen on two of the doors. In 1892, it expanded to be a hotel, because the stage coach began to stop at Cripple Creek, due to the discovery of gold in 1890. The gold mines were drawing in a variety of folks, from the rich to the hopeful miners to the shady characters that always seemed to follow a mass migration of people. By the turn-of-the-century, Cripple Creek was an established town of around 35,000. The original Palace Hotel building burned in the 1896 fire, but it was rebuilt again using brick, by people who didn't give up easily. All the Bennett street buildings were rebuilt of brick, with fancy brickwork, especially at the roof-line. At night, all the tops of the buildings are lighted, showcasing the beautiful brickwork.
Around 1900, Dr. and Mrs. Chambers bought the hotel, and began to run this business with enthusiasm! Dr. Chambers ran the Pharmacy, while Mrs. Kitty Chambers took really good care of their guests, loving the job of providing hospitality, adding nice touches like turning down the beds for their guests. She also loved candles and did this chore personally.
Throughout the years, The Palace Hotel managed to survive a variety of challenges; from the martial law imposed during the vicious Labor Wars in the mining industry here in the early 1900s, to the closing of the gold mines, and a lack of economic opportunity that resulted in the following years. During the Labor Wars, the Chambers probably catered to people brought in by the mine owners and state authorities. As the mines dropped in gold production over time, the hotel did its best to cater to tourists and probably nature lovers and hunters as well.
By 1970-80s, Cripple Creek was considered a ghost town, though it still had a few hundred people. In 1991, voters of Colorado allowed Cripple Creek to start its own limited gaming industry, that brought people and funds back to Cripple Creek, allowing the town to wisely spruce up and restore the old buildings, to start new businesses in the old store fronts and form a Historical Society that has helped to preserve old buildings. Another source of work was the open pit mine that was started in 1994, just east of Cripple Creek, closer to sister city, Victor.
While quite a few casinos have sprung up since 1991, the current economy has closed a few gambling establishments who couldn't compete. The Palace Hotel and Casino was sold to its competitor across the street around 2003, and ceased its long history as a hotel. Hopefully, it will be renovated and transformed into a building that can be used by the living again, and not allowed to continue to rot away.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:
Mrs. Kitty Chambers and her Doctor Chambers opened their labor of love, The Palace Hotel and Pharmacy. They loved their business, and faithfully took care of their guests. After only a few years of ownership, Mrs. Chambers died in Room 3, in 1908. Former owners of hotels and homes have been known to stick around and supervise, helping the living.
( The Bullock Hotel * The Monteleone Hotel * The Pfister * New River Inn * Hotel Del Monte * The Stanley Hotel; Estes Park, CO )
Guests and employees of a cherished building sometimes choose to spend their after-life there.
( Roosevelt Hotel * The Boca Raton Resort Club * The Biltmore of Coral Gables * Jekyll Island Club Hotel )
For many years, while the hotel was open, guests and staff have experienced:
The entity of the original former owner: Mrs. Kitty Chambers - described as an older woman who still considered herself to be an owner.
She claimed two of the rooms for herself:
Her apparition has been reported in Room 3, and she was blamed for hiding all the room 9 keys.
This entity, Mrs. Chambers, did her part to help the staff out, and add her own touches.
Staff would find lighted candles in various spots in the hotel, like the dining room, but didn't know who the person was who was adding this to the decor, until this entity was seen, wandering around the building, wearing a nightgown and carrying a candle. When the dining room was turned into a casino, the candles continued to light themselves. While she was alive, the placing of candles was one of her duties.
The entity of Mrs. Chambers was given the credit by staff for turning down the covers for the hotel's guests.
The living get the feeling of being watched in this structure.
Some people over the years have reported being gently nudged on the central staircase.
For many years, up to the present, a woman has been seen looking out the second floor window on the end, peering at the activity in the street, probably wondering when the living were going to come to her hotel again. It is thought to be Kitty, but it may also be another entity as well. It seems that Kitty has some company!
In fact, there are three more known entities that call the Palace Hotel their home. These entities must have been seen by the living, as they are described as if they appeared in front of witnesses.
A blind piano player: Looking in the 2001 pictures of the lobby, one spies an old piano. Perhaps this entity was seen playing the piano, and perhaps observed in some way to be blind.
A short fat man: Appeared in a life-like solid form, as he walked all over the hotel. Witnesses didn't realize that he was a spirit, until he suddenly vanished into thin air. Though it isn't known who this gentleman is, perhaps he is one of the previous owners, or the good Dr. Chambers himself!
A tall woman: Thought to possibly be Mary Hedges, who was the hotel manager from 1916-1918.
A BIG YES INDEED is in order.
Ghost investigators, such as Southwest Ghost Hunters Assoc. have throughout the years, up to the present, captured some evidence that points to paranormal activity, though no actual pictures of the entities described by the personal experiences of many witnesses throughout the years have been caught on film, which is nearly impossible. Though the building is closed and empty at the present, ghost hunting groups and paranormal enthusiasts come in to investigate for a fee, if one can believe the posted signs on the outside of the door. This is true of several haunted buildings in town, so it may be possible to try to investigate this building as well.
Be sure to visit the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association website and read about their investigation results captured at the Palace Hotel.
Interview with Century Casino employee.
HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory
By Dennis William Hauck
Penguin Books, 2002
hubpages.com * Haunted Colorado * Southwest Ghost Hunters Association
en.wikipedia.org * coloradocasinoguide * colorado.com