The 21st century, experts quickly claim nowadays, is not a Golden Age, and they offer as evidence of this pronouncement the increase in vulgarity, obscenities, and profanity in everyday life, and how commonplace such things have become. They readily point to the coarseness permeating much of society, the embracing of depravity and the justification of immorality, and declare this irrefutable proof of the demise of such things as class and grace, good manners and sophistication. Style and tradition, the experts proclaim with a glee that would make monsters and devils proud, are dead, and soon buried.
Without indulging such things as rudeness, and thereby giving these remarks support and credibility, it must be said: Such claims are at best misinformed and at worse willfully ignorant not only of such concerns but many things related, and easily dismissed by way of physical representation that has withstood time itself:
In 1888 businessman Henry Cordes Brown, a self-made entrepreneur, engaged the services of renowned architect Frank E. Edbrooke to design what he envisioned would be an unprecedented hotel, in the then popular Italian Renaissance style, located on a triangular lot in downtown Denver.
The directive, deceptively simple in expectation, proved challenging and demanding. Four years and an unprecedented million and a half dollars later Brown’s vision was realized at the intersection of 17th and Broadway, modestly named “The Brown Palace Hotel”.
Edbrooke did not disappoint in his execution of the directive issued to him. The exterior, sublime excellence manifested in Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone, finished with twenty-six hand-carved stone medallions by James Whitehouse, each depicting a native Rocky Mountain animal, enters into an eight-story atrium that inspired the later Portman-built efforts now found in many Hyatt operations, flanked by pillars and wainscoting of glowing golden Mexican onyx adorned with distinctive art, red granite and sandstone walls, culminating in a stained-glass ceiling unmatched over a terrazzo floor.
From the third floor to the seventh floor more than 700 wrought-iron grill work panels encircle the space, and almost overwhelm, but do not do so due to specific characteristics: Two of the panels tend to catch the eye: They are upside down. One deliberately so, as an homage to the imperfection that is Mankind, and the other simply a gesture of a disgruntled workman long gone.
A massive fireplace, the mantel supported by two columns of onyx, awaits and warmly welcomes those who enter on a cold winter’s day, seeking escape from winds that often come from the tops of snow-capped peaks to the west.
But even on the coldest of days the interior of The Brown Palace delights. The triangular shape allows sunlight to illuminate each of the 241 rooms, and the melodic sounds of spring water flowing from the original 720-foot-deep artesian well on the premises lulls one into a relaxed state of mind, to accept and enjoy intangibles: History, romance, atmosphere, and impeccable service.
Now a National Historic Landmark the Brown Palace has many distinctions that set it apart from its closest competition.
Dedicated and opened 12 August 1892, it has operated continuously since, welcoming every United States President since 1905 except Calvin Coolidge, and served as a home away from home for Dwight D. Eisenhower his former quarters, now known as The Eisenhower Suite’, is a vision of stately elegance, as are the suites named for Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, all standards for the rooms available to those not as famous or known. Each has a desk, a duvet, and individual climate control.
For those with a bigger budget staterooms on the ninth floor await, offering big-screen televisions, big beds, and equally big spaces to stroll in as you take in the surrounding views.
Despite visits by J.C. Penny, and The Beatles in 1964, exclusivity is not perpetuated. Tourists familiar with the structure regularly make pilgrimages to experience the architectural wonder, some taking part in tours offered Wednesday and Saturday at 2:00 P.M. led by the on-site historian, while others indulge gastronomical interests in the one of the several offerings: The intimate Palace Arms, which boasts a pair of dueling pistols belonging to Napoleon and the 22 revolutionary battle flags, offers a menu that includes salmon, pheasant, and rack of lamb; Ellyngton’s, the daytime restaurant, offers a wide array of items from power breakfasts to Sunday Dom Perignon Sunday brunches; The Ship’s Tavern, which has a nautical theme by way of Admiral Nelson’s stateroom, with a pub atmosphere, offers prime rib and trout, and a pianist Wednesday through Saturday evenings, who presents cabaret-style favorites.
And those more inclined to social activities will likely find pleasure in the lobby, where afternoon tea and scones with Devonshire Cream are served.
Or perhaps a more refined setting is more appealing: The Churchill Bar, just off the atrium, among bookshelves and leather wing-back chairs, and a menu of Reuben sandwiches and seafood chowder.
Regardless of what one desires one can likely find it at The Brown Palace Hotel, the embodiment of a Golden Age never ending and always ready to be embraced.