25- 50-100 Years Ago | AspenTimes.com
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25- 50-100 Years Ago

Compiled by John Colson
Aspen Times Weekly
Courtesy The Aspen Historical SocietyThe Hotel Jerome underwent a renovation around 1946, courtesy of new owner Walter Paepcke. Taken shortly after the renovation, this photo shows what was then called "The Grille at the Jerome," located on the western side of the building just behind the saloon that fronted on Main Street.
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In the wake of revelations of fiscal irregularities attributed to recently departed county treasurer W.H. McNichols, an unidentified correspondent from “Watson, Colorado” wrote to The Aspen Democrat to declare, “Democratic Party Is Not To Blame” and to cast suspicion on a shadowy “ring” of financially motivated cronies.

Now, was it the Democrats who elected him [McNichols]? Or was it a political ring composed of quite influential men of both parties? I say the latter was the case. Was it not always claimed by a certain faction of the Democratic party that they (the McNichols crowd) packed the conventions with delegates from all parties? [Analysis of past elections shows] it was not any certain political party … but a party composed of ranchmen, stockmen, mining men, tradesmen, merchants and slatebreakers, regardless of any political faith … who … elected him. Now, just take the taxes of some of the ring for the last year and compare them with some of those who are not in the ring and see whether there is any inducement to be in the ring or not.

It didn’t take nearly the amount of capital to start a bank in Aspen a century ago as it would today.

Certificates of incorporation were yesterday made and forwarded to the secretary of state organizing The Aspen State Bank, with a cash paid-up capital of $25,000. The new institution will take over the property of the present State Bank of Aspen on or about August 1 … The new bank will be conducted by a board of directors consisting of David R.C. Brown, George R. Cole, L.A.W. Brown, Harry G. Koch and G.B. Brown. Mr. D.R.C. Brown will be its president and George R. Cole its cashier. Arrangements have been made [so that] depositors … may receive their deposits in cash or transfer the same to the new institution.

An alarming development in the local business community was announced in a rather obscurely worded report.

Last evening at 6 o’clock the Jerome hotel was closed, Charles W. Mosely having left the city very suddenly and unexpectedly. It won’t do for the people of Aspen to allow this hotel to remain closed for any length of time. To open it will cost by very little effort on the part of our businessmen … Therefore, let the business men get together and select some hustler to reopen the Jerome, and open it right and run it right … Care should be taken that he is not a man who will think it necessary to drink all the booze left by the patrons and, also care should be taken to select a man who is naturally popular and of a congenial disposition.

No sooner had a baseball-related controversy between Aspen and Glenwood Springs been defused, than a similar dispute arose involving the community of Grand Junction, located about 90 miles west of Glenwood on the Colorado River. The baseball boosters of Junction, according to excerpts from a Junction newspaper, were upset that Glenwood and Aspen had arranged a game for Aug. 2 but had not invited the Junction team.

The Grand Junction Baseball Association, as well as the general public, feels that the two clubs [Glenwood and Junction] should play a game on that date. Grand Junction … sends larger crowds to [Glenwood] on its festal days than any other city in Colorado. Special trains … always carry tremendous crowds and a large amount of money is spent. For this reason they feel that it is no more than right that the Grand Junction team should have that date for a ball game.

Microfilm of The Aspen Times 1904-1909 is missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1908 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.

The dispute over the city’s proposed purchase of Fred Hendy’s private water system in Aspen continued.

Last week Hendy countered the city’s $61,000 purchase bid with an offer to sell for $159,000 … In his counter offer Hendy placed a $60,000 value on his water rights and a $99,000 value on the system itself. Following a discussion … the aldermen agreed to meet with Hendy, his lawyer and his engineer one more time in a final attempt to negotiate the sale … before taking the matter to court. Hendy’s sales offer … was approximately $31,000 lower than the one he made to the former city council … in the fall of 1956 [which was not accepted]. In the fall of 1956 the city passed a pair of ordinances providing for construction of a new system [for approximately] $590,000. This was turned down by the voters in a special election in March, 1957.

The paper called it “one of the most audacious robberies in the history of Aspen” when burglars ransacked the Hotel Jerome’s offices in an overnight break-in.

The loss sustained by the hotel is now known. However, it is known that currency totaling $1,500 or more is often kept in the auditing offices pending deposit in the bank. From his observations on the scene the Sheriff [Lorain Herwick] said the burglary was the work of experts.

Local car racing enthusiasts celebrated a breakthrough that would bring the National Continental Divide Sports Car Rallye to Aspen.

A last minute offer by the Aspen Sports Car Club [to raise at least $500 for a “sanction fee”] and the promise of support by most local lodges and restaurants [to contribute roughly 10 percent of revenues from the date in question to that sanction fee] have definitely assured the use of Aspen as the terminal city for this year’s [rallye] … considered to be the most important of the 12 national rallyes sponsored by the national organization.

The city council was waffling on whether or not to turn Rubey Park, a pocket of green space on Durant Avenue, into a transit center for buses.

It did seem to be a sense of the council, as Mayor Bill Stirling stated, that Rubey Park should not hold a major transit center … The council did decide to have the staff prepare an application for a federal grant … to update the 1978 Transportation Development Plan. Not decided by the council was where a major transit center should be; at the airport or at the Rio Grande property, and whether or not regional buses should be allowed to load and unload in the downtown area.

Relations between Aspen and Pitkin County often grew quarrelsome, as shown by this entry.

County officials discussed their city counterparts this week and the words “obstructionist jerks” were among the kindest that were spoken. The discussion came in reaction to the city’s surprise move last week to withdraw from the long-planned joint city/county Smuggler area road improvement project and, moreover, to keep the county from doing – and paying for – the project on its own … in an apparent attempt to show [the city’s] disapproval of the county’s planned Silverking Phase IV employee housing project. County commissioners [said they intended] to go ahead with the planned road work … Said Commissioner Tom Blake, “What it comes down to is a case of, ‘Hey, we’re pouring concrete, guys. How many troops have you got?'”


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