Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton Colorado

Date added: May 18, 2022 Categories: Colorado Hotel

The Imperial Hotel sits at the northwest corner of Green and 12th Streets. One of the oldest of the major structures in the town, the Imperial Hotel was constructed about 1882. It is a three-story building with mansard roof. Dormers are situated around the third floor of the building. This impressive hotel, the largest of the three in Silverton, was billed "the finest hotel on the western slope except the La Veta, at Gunnison" by the builders, the Thompson Brothers. Presently on the first level of the building are a restaurant located in the hotel as well as various shops that occupy rented space. There is a glass facade (storefront in character) which runs the length of the southeast elevation.

Silverton, Colorado was the center of an extensive mining district that stretched across the northern half of San Juan County. Established in 1874, by 1879 the population of the town had multiplied to 3,000 people. The town was founded in a rich silver mining district, (from which the town received its name). This region was later found to be rich in other ores including gold, lead and copper. The prosperity of the town continued and numerous buildings, organizations, churches, and other towns were the result of the district's prosperity. Between 1882 and 1918, the district had produced more than 65 million dollars in precious ores.

Today Silverton is a sleepy community in a valley surrounded by mountains. The major industry remains mining. The mining district has not seen massive intrusions though a number of the locations of former prosperous towns have been lost, primarily because of the decline in mining. Access to Silverton is made by U.S. Route 550 from both the north and south.

Silverton History

Silverton, Colorado and the historic mining district surrounding it is one of the great silver-producing areas of the Trans-Mississippi West. This region between 1882 and 1918 alone produced more than 65 million dollars in precious metals.

Silverton owes its greatest importance in the early years to silver. In the early 1870s, miners searched the region for gold but no one found anything but silver. However, after they became convinced that silver was worthwhile, they started extensive operations in the region which proved to be a virtual treasure house. Before the signing of the Brunot Treaty with the Utes in 1873, a number of miners penetrated the region but many of them were run off, or killed by the Indians. In 1871 and 1872, while the treaty was being negotiated, miners worked their way over Stony Pass and began staking claims. By the end of 1873, nearly 4,000 claims had been recorded and most of the big mines had been discovered.

By 1873, extensive mining had begun in the district and by the subsequent year towns had risen all across the district. With the influx of men, the towns of Howardsville, Eureka, Animas Forks, Mineral Point and Silverton began to prosper.

According to an official plat of the township, Silverton was officially organized as a town in September 1874. The first newspaper was established in July 1875; the second appeared in 1889. A Hook and Ladder County was organized in 1878. By 1879, Silverton had a population of about 3,000 people.

Likewise, in the other towns, signs of prosperity appeared. Schools were built, newspapers organized and shops were opened for business.

One of the most important aspects of life in the Colorado mining community was the church. In 1878, the Congregationalist Church organized and erected its first church. Shortly, thereafter, the Catholics built their church, then the Methodists, and finally the Episcopalians.

Much of the Silverton social life centered around the many fraternal organizations which flourished during the 1880s and 1890s. Among these were the Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Woodmen of the World, Women of Woodcraft, Rathbone Sisters, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the Silverton Miners Union which had a membership of 1,300 people. In 1889, the Silverton Jockey Club was organized.

Railroad service was first initiated to Silverton in 1881 and service began in July, 1882. The first railroad was the Denver and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad which extended its tracks from Durango up the Animas Canyon along treacherous mountain ledges and along to Silverton. It was the Durango-Silverton connection which made possible the construction of other lines. The first line built after the Denver-Rio Grande was the Silverton Railroad. This was to be followed by the Silverton Gladstone, completed in 1889 and the Silverton Northern Railroad, incorporated in September 1895.

Silverton and its surrounding towns continued to prosper well into the 20th century. In 1910, Silverton had a population of 2,153. It was a railroad supply center for the other cities of the district. Annual production of ore exceeded 2 million dollars.

Gradually the mines in the district were exhausted and the district began to decline. Silverton, likewise, declined and no major construction, other than minor motels, has occurred.

Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton Colorado CORNER VIEW, W. 12TH & GREEN STREETS (1971)

Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton Colorado CLOSE-UP OF FACADE AND SIDE (1971)