The Hotel Jerome was built in 1889 by Jerome B.
Wheeler, co-owner of Macy's Department Store. He visited Aspen in 1883 and, impressed by its beauty, began investing in the community. He commissioned the hotel and the Wheeler Opera House. The Hotel Jerome was the first hotel in Colorado with electricity and indoor plumbing. After surviving the Panic of 1893, the Jerome passed through some trying times and a variety of different owners. In 1911, Mansor Elisha, a Syrian American drummer with a traveling band, acquired the hotel and owned it through a flu epidemic when its parlors served as a morgue. Elisha's ownership survived the Prohibition when the most popular drink was the Aspen Crud, a vanilla ice cream soda or milkshake spiked with bourbon.
The Elisha family continued to own and operate the Jerome through World War II. Earlier, US Olympic bobsledder, Billy Fiske saw the perfect terrain for a ski resort and formed the Highland Bavarian ski club. After WWII, some veterans of the US Army's Tenth Mountain Division's "soldiers on skis" returned to Aspen to help develop the ski resort. After construction of a new swimming pool, the Jerome attracted many movie stars including Gary Cooper, Lana Turner, and John Wayne.
In 1945, Walter Paepcke, President of the Container Corporation of America, envisioned Aspen as an ideal location for an American counterpart to the Salzburg Festival. Paepcke acquired and/or leased many buildings including the Hotel Jerome. With Friedl Pfeifer, an Austrian, Paepcke invested in the Aspen Skiing Company and completed Ski Lift No. 1, which claimed to be the longest in the world.
Paepcke created the Aspen Institute as an ideal gathering place for thinkers, leaders, artists, and musicians from all over the world. His participation in the Great Books seminar, led by philosopher Mortimer Adler, inspired the Institute's Executive Seminar. The Aspen Institute continues to be one of the greatest intellectual and music venues in the world.
After a variety of investors and owners, the Hotel Jerome suffered some down periods of neglect and subsequent restoration projects. In 1998, the J-Bar was restored to its original appearance, and 4 years later, a US$6 million project added a new rear wing and grand ballroom and updated the guest rooms.
The Hotel Jerome is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Each beautifully-appointed guestroom is spacious - even the smallest is more than 500 square feet. Bathrooms, finished with white marble and octagonal tiles, have oversized tubs and separate showers.
The Hotel Jerome is part of the Auberge Resort collection. The Garden Terrace Restaurant serves Alpine Colorado cuisine. The Library serves tapas-style dishes while the J-Bar continues to feature the hotel's signature drink, the Aspen Crud. The 93-room Hotel Jerome was recognized as one of Travel Advisor Readers 2011 "Top 10 Hotels in the World."
Article from Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 96 by Stanley Turkel, CMHS, ISHC. For more information about the author of this article, go to: www.stanleyturkel.com