Aspen Times Weekly: Hotel Jerome, then and now
November 20, 2014
At the heart of every town is one defining place. In Aspen, many would agree this place is the Hotel Jerome — the historic lodge on the corner of Mill and Main streets.
"This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Jerome," says general manager Tony DiLucia. "It's amazing to me to think that something this historic can be found in our small mountain town. It represents more than a century of brick and mortar, people and their stories."
Indeed, the Jerome has plenty of stories to tell (see "A Step in Time," pages 24-25). When it was built, the hotel was celebrated as one of the first buildings west of the Mississippi to have full electric lighting; for decades, the Jerome had the only bathroom
in town that was open to the public. Decades later, its bar became a popular watering hole for writers, avant-garde artists, movie stars, intellectuals and industrialists. Even as the building fell into disrepair, the locals loved it.
“What is the Jerome’s place in Aspen’s history?
That’s a big question with an easy answer:
No matter what era, and no matter what state
the building’s been in, it’s always been the locals’ hotel; it’s always been at the heart of Aspen.”
ttt– Tony Dilucia, general manager
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"The Jerome is something special. You don't realize this until you take time to reflect on its past — on all the different decades it's survived; all the different lives it's led.
"It holds a sort of spell over people."
Today, that spell is in large part the result of careful planning — a purposeful weaving of the past and the present into one historic brick building.
"We wanted to provide a narrative for everyone who walks through the doors of Hotel Jerome," says interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan of Las Vegas-based TAL-Studio, who was the mastermind behind the most recent rendition of the hotel along with Aspen-based architects Rowland + Broughton. "We're adding paragraphs to the story."
But the story of the Jerome is more than its façade and décor. DiLucia says it's much deeper than what the meets the eye.
"It's a luxury hotel, but it's still warm and welcoming. It's not intimidating. You don't walk in and just go, 'Wow…this is amazing.'
"You walk in and you want to sit and stay; you want to eat and drink; you want to experience Aspen."
The newly renovated Living Room — with its plush seating, rich colors and roaring fire — is part of the draw.
But really, for locals and visitors, it's the J-Bar that pulls at the heartstrings.
"Steady Eddy, that's the J-Bar. No matter what's going on in the world, the J-Bar is still there," says DiLucia. "You can always walk in there and have a burger and a beer and just say, 'I'm so happy.'"
The feeling is one DiLucia and his team hope to keep into the hotel's next 125 years — and one they hope to share through an anniversary bash open to the entire community on Nov. 28 (see "Party Like It's 1889," previous page).
"After all these years, it's such an honor to be part of this history," says DiLucia, who has spent more than half of his career in the hotel industry at the Jerome in two different stints. "The Hotel Jerome is the crown jewel of Aspen — always has been, always will be."
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