Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Incomparable Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel sits high on a hill overlooking Estes Park, Colorado, about an hour’s drive from Denver. It is a 138 room Georgian style building and the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel The Shining. It is one of the more popular tourist sites in Colorado and a great deal of its popularity rests on rumors that it is haunted by former owners Freelan Oscar and Flora Stanley. In spite of its haunting reputation, it is a lovely old building with breathtaking views and well worth the drive up the Big Thompson Canyon. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has seen many famous guests, such as Theodore Roosevelt and John Philip Sousa. It is open year round and even offers ghost tours.

The Stanley Hotel is named after F.O. Stanley, a successful American businessman who owned and operated the Stanley Motor Carriage Company with his brother, Francis Edgar Stanley. They invented the Stanley Steamer Automobile and other popular vehicles. In the early 1900s Tuberculosis was still a serious threat to the health of Americans and in 1903, it ravaged the body and soul of F.O. Stanley. He knew that if he didn’t do something drastic and fast he would soon be dead, and his beloved wife, Flora, would be alone. He convinced Flora to join him on a trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where he was told the mountain air would clear his lungs. Flora was a dedicated and devoted woman who was passionately in love and would gladly follow her husband anywhere.

They made the trip in a Stanley Steamer. They stayed in a friend’s cabin for the summer and fell in love with Estes Park, which is completely understandable to anyone who has been there. The Stanleys decided to stay. They built the luxurious Stanley Hotel between 1906 and 1909 and worked side by side supervising the staff and entertaining the guests. Flora often performed piano solos for visitors in the music room. Flora, who was equally in love with their former home in Maine, eventually convinced her husband to build a replica of that home about a mile down the road. The cool, mountain air and pleasing company must have been just what F.O. needed because he lived another thirty-seven years, until 1940.

For more information on the Stanley Hotel, check out their website at:

1 comment:

Tim Shey said...

I once hitchhiked through Three Forks, Montana and there is this beautiful, big hotel in downtown Three Forks. It is not as big as the Stanley Hotel, but I thought it was very impressive. Three Forks is about 30 miles west of Bozeman on I-90.

Christmas dinner for a family, from a series of photos documenting Gen. John J. Pershing's 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico. ...