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Sesquicentennial Minute: Three Antlers Hotels? How the original burned to the ground

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Antlers Hotel: it's been the center of downtown Colorado Springs since nearly the city's inception. But what you see today isn't what was originally built. In fact, the building currently standing isn't the first Antlers Hotel, nor is it even the second.

"The first Antlers was built in 1883. It only lasted for 15 years," said Arron Duff, General Manager of the Antlers Hotel.

"It burned down in a matter of minutes. And then Palmer wasn't happy with that, so he rebuilt the hotel in 1901," Duff said. "It burned to the ground because a fire started in one of the railroad cars on the Rio Grande Railroad."

The original Antlers Hotel was built by General William Jackson Palmer, our city’s founder, and sat close to the railroad depot in what's now called Antlers Park. The hotel was named after Palmer's massive deer and elk collection, which was displayed in the hotel. The fire destroyed the first Antlers in 1898, along with the collection of game inside the hotel. However, General Palmer built the second Antlers Hotel to be larger, with more rooms, and with impressive Italian Renaissance architecture.

Several presidents visited the second Antlers, including a famous visit from President Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, the year the second hotel opened. The second version would stand for 63 years until it was torn down in 1964. The third and current Antlers opened in 1967 and was the first building to face the city's center, rather than the railroad.

"People know the Antlers, it was one of the first buildings in Colorado Springs, and to see it still to this day it kinda proves that it has a legacy here in Colorado Springs," said Duff.

Sesquicentennial Minute is a summer series produced by KRDO's Josh Helmuth leading up to Colorado Springs' 150th birthday this July 31, 2021.

Josh Helmuth

Josh is an anchor for Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Josh here.

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