COBWEB CORNERS: Cascade’s Ramona Hotel

By Mel McFarland

       Last week I mentioned the Ramona Hotel, but I would like to talk more about it this week. It was one of the first major hotels built in Ute Pass after the opening of the Colorado Midland in 1887. Considered to be the finest in the area, it was built at a cost of $65,000 for a group of businessmen from Kansas who owned property at Cascade (then called Cascade Canyon). I mentioned a while back about the building of the road up Pike's Peak being financed by some of the same men.
       The hotel opened on July 1889. The name came from Helen Hunt Jackson's novel "Ramona," which was a best seller at the time. The four-story frame building stood on the hill above town, with a commanding view! It was an interesting building with two domes, the most spectacular being a "bee hive" dome that rose more than 100 feet above the fourth floor. The hotel was designed by W.R. Parsons and Son of Topeka, Kansas, a company that also had a Colorado Springs office. Travelers up from Manitou could see the Ramona well before they saw the town.
       The entrance was centered on the first floor, up a few steps from the ground. There were more than a hundred rooms. Wide outside verandas connected to every room, allowing the cool summer air to reach them. On the south end of the building was a large parlor, on the north end was the men's smoking and reading room. In the back of the center section was the dining room and kitchen. In the basement was the billiard hall and bar. The decor was in old New England style with curtains, carpeting and overstuffed easy chairs.
       All the guest rooms had a view of the surrounding mountains. The deluxe rooms included a bath, but other rooms had facilities near by. The staff lived on the top floor.
       The hotel usually closed in early October and reopened the next May. The building had only minimal heating, coming from the kitchen. Stories of the winter caretakers were often quite entertaining! It did have one of the first elevators in the area!
       The building stood into the 1920s, when it was torn down. The scenic spot now is graced by a fine chapel. Many other hotels were built in the area as far up as Woodland Park, and most of them were lost in fires.