Societal Shift: State Groups Collaborated to Save Hotel de Paris and Its Library

Societal Shift: State Groups Collaborated to Save Hotel de Paris and Its Library

By November 1944, Hotel de Paris proprietor Hazel Burkholder McAdams was acquainted with The State Historical Society of Colorado. This familiarity prompted John Evan (Society President), LeRoy R. Hafen (Society Executive Director), and Edgar C. McMechen (Curator of Archaeology) to recognize Mrs. McAdams as an important source of historical data for Georgetown, Colorado.

It was at that time, Mr. McMechen asked questions about the state of preservation of Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris and its potential use as a house museum (by the end of 1944, New York had forty house museums and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California had done much in this respect).  Officers, directors, regional vice-presidents, and administrative staff of the Society were anxious to catch Colorado up with these other states and called on Mrs. McAdams with the hope Hotel de Paris would become a house museum.

Hotel de Paris became Hotel de Paris Antiques in 1949

However, the cordial relationship between the Society and Mrs. McAdams was tested in 1948 when Mr. McMechen was told one of Louis Dupuy’s original French etchings had been sold to “some Texas woman for $65.00” and other furnishings were being considered for sale to “some people from Texas.”  The woman and people from Texas were Mrs. R. H. Lowery of Lubbock and her family, distant relatives of Mrs. McAdams.

By then, it appears the Society had determined to convert the operating hotel and restaurant into a house museum but understood the significance of the site was its original furnishings displayed in situ.  Mr. McMechen stated, “…the Hotel de Paris would be of no value to us as a house museum without the original articles” and continued, “I am very much disturbed that anything that belonged to Louis (Dupuy) should be disposed of as long as there is a chance that we may be able to negotiate the purchase of Hotel de Paris.”

Hotel de Paris is a time capsule that contains
approximately 90% of Louis Dupuy’s furnishings

The following year, Mrs. McAdams closed the hotel and restaurant and, in its place, opened Hotel de Paris Antiques.  It is believed she brought in antiques and only used the dining room of the hotel as a showroom.  It appears Mr. McMechen’s words of caution motivated Mrs. McAdams to protect the site’s collection of original furnishings, which is why so much remains intact to this day.

After the antique shop proved inadequate to generate enough revenue to support Mrs. McAdams and pay her back taxes, she was finally forced to sell the furnished hotel.  The nagging concern that items had been sold seems the likely reason The State Historical Society of Colorado ultimately did not pursue the purchase of the property for its house museum initiative.

James Grafton Rogers, husband of
Cora Mae Peabody (a Colonial Dame)

By then, the president of the Society was James Grafton Rogers, Police Judge (Mayor) of Georgetown, Colorado, and former Assistant Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration.  Mr. Rogers was aware the furnished hotel was available for purchase and the Society was no longer pursuing acquisition.

Because of the lack of a qualified buyer, Mr. Rogers became concerned about the fate of Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris and suggested to his wife Cora May Peabody (Governor James H. Peabody’s daughter) she propose to her fellow members of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Colorado (NSCDA in CO) they purchase the property to preserve it.

In 1954, the preservation-minded women’s group bought Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris lock, stock, and barrel and transformed it into an historical site open to the public.  A plaque given in recognition of Mrs. McAdams’ stewardship of the site credited her efforts to protect the hotel.  It states, “To record the public services/of/Sarah Burkholder/And her daughter/Hazel Burkholder McAdams/Who preserved/The Hotel de Paris/And its chief furnishings/For half a century.”

In a show of support for this remarkable save, the Society presented “Photostats of Primary and Secondary Sources on Hotel de Paris and Louis Dupuy Prepared for State Historical Society of Colorado” which was prepared by Gene M. Gressley, Assistant Historian.  In addition, the Society declared, “The Hotel de Paris is probably the most unique and complete parcel of early Colorado History in Colorado”  and installed on Hotel de Paris a bronze tablet that reads in part, “Erected by/The State Historical Society of Colorado/And/The Colonial Dames Society in Colorado/1954.”  A second bronze plaque was added in 1962, when The State Historical Society of Colorado marked the former location of the McClellan Opera House (lost to fire in 1892).  The Society worked with the NSCDA in CO (which owns the land on which the opera house stood) to emplace a memorial which interprets the history of the theatre.

A portion of Louis Dupuy’s library was showcased
in Sample Room 2

This good working relationship between the two historical groups led to the NSCDA in CO in March 1967 to consider a gift of Hotel de Paris’ literary and political library to the Society on the conditions 1) it was insured, and 2) stayed on site.  The “library” meant the collection of books, periodicals, and maps and was not related to any specific physical location.

Louis Dupuy’s personal library
included literary and political works

This library was compiled by Louis Dupuy, who filled his free time reading about religion, philosophy, home keeping, science, health, anatomy, politics, civics, history, and war.  From his days in seminary, he maintained an interest in classical literature and the arts.  A former journalist, Dupuy subscribed to newspapers and magazines, studied reviews and lectures, examined biographies, and kept up with popular fiction.

“In view of the Society’s interest in the Hotel de Paris, the board reacted favorably to the suggestion.”  Therefore, the library was donated with the proviso that the assemblage of items be preserved as a collection which would remain at Hotel de Paris if the site were maintained as a public museum, and the books, periodicals, and maps were properly insured by the Society against fire, fire-related damage, theft, and vandalism.  The State Historical Society of Colorado extended its insurance coverage to meet the expectations of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Colorado.

In a letter of acceptance dated February 28, 1968, W. E. Marshall, Executive Director of The State Historical Society of Colorado wrote, “The (Historical) Society agreed that the library could remain in the hotel (Hotel de Paris), where it is meaningful.”

Hazel Burkholder in Louis Dupuy’s former study,
which contained literary reviews and fiction

Just ten years later, a return of the library’s ownership to the NSCDA in CO was being discussed.  A memorandum from Mr. Marshall to Stephen H. Hart regarding the Hotel de Paris Library announced, “If they (NSCDA in CO) want to have the books returned to their ownership, the Society board would have to prepare a bill for introduction into the Legislature for that purpose — to be uncontestably legal.  However, upon examination of the law governing deaccessioning of Society holdings, you may determine that a return of the material to the original donor may not require Legislative action.”

In 2008, the Society (under the direction of Chief Executive Officer Ed Nichols) reduced its insurance expenses by deaccessioning the collection and returning ownership of the library to the NSCDA in CO which stores, maintains, and insures the items.

Presently, Hotel de Paris Museum staff is helping fulfill the organization’s mission of sharing the history of Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris by creating free online searchable databases for the public.  As of February 2021, books, periodicals, and maps have been returned to their historical locations in the hotel and one of five databases is already online; it is anticipated the second database will be available by March 1, 2021.  These inventories will reflect the hotel’s library holdings divided into five historic groupings: Sample Room 1, Sample Room 2, Room 13 (Office), Room 14 (Study), and The Burkholder Family Collection.

Sign up for Our Newsletter

    We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy.