Keeping the Jerome real
(This letter was originally addressed to Aspen City Council members.)Dear Editor:I strongly urge you to be conscientious stewards in preserving not only the exterior of the historic Jerome Hotel, but also it’s interior. As one of the most important landmarks in Aspen, you have the ability to deny any extensive remodeling on the ground floor, to preserve the Jerome’s historic spaces, its lobby, the ceiling height, its tall entrance doors and windows, its fireplace, stairway, its hallways, The J-Bar, in its entirety, all of which are original from more than 125 years ago.The Historic Preservation Committee has failed to follow through in protecting Aspen’s heritage. It is up to the City Council to serve as stewards for historic monuments. Now that the buyers of the new hotel are asking for a PUD for this landmark, the one requirement you should insist upon (in addition to keeping the integrity of the outside of the building) is keeping the integrity of the inside of the building in its public spaces on the ground floor.To say that the new owners of the Hotel Jerome have a pristine reputation for preserving historic landmarks is deceiving and incorrect. These new owners, the publishing company from Oklahoma, bring to their resume of renovations the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. To say that the Broadmoor’s renovation speaks for itself is an overstatement. I spent many of my formative years at the Broadmoor, and I remember it well. Since its renovation the Broadmoor falls short of its former European grandeur. Its former high ceilings, grand entrance doors and windows to the parking esplanade have been lowered and removed to create another floor; the mahogany circular staircase, formerly hand-crafted by Italian artisans, the gold leaf Renaissance ceilings, the elegant marble flooring in the mezzanine, wall sconces, the chandeliers, the black and white marbled flooring of the terrazzo terrace room are all gone. The original European elegance has been “recreated” to resemble a chain of modern Hyatt Hotels or Gaylord chain hotels.Do we want this to happen to the Hotel Jerome, Aspen’s only landmark hotel? Most of us are proud of our Aspen history and can’t forget the many visitors who love our wonderful Victorian buildings, which set us apart from most U.S. ski resort towns. We need to preserve our precious landmarks, or we may lose what makes us unique.When visitors come to Aspen, they like to see authentic history in the original space of the buildings built at the turn of the 19th century. They want to gaze upon the original rooms, stairwells, doors, windows, tile on the floors, wainscoting on the walls, etc. When the buyers of the Hotel Jerome say they want “to recreate” the historic Jerome, we should be wary of giving them what they want. Judging by their past record, we will end up with a Jerome Hotel that is unrecognizable, commonplace or simply a ” Disney” faux replica of the 1890s, instead of the classic landmark hotel we have today.Junee KirkAspen
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