In 1867, Seth Lake, a New York native, built the Astor House. His New York roots may explain why the hotel shares the same name as New York City’s famous Astor House, a hotel that opened thirty-one years earlier in 1836. Until 1971, a traveler could still rent a room at Golden’s Astor House. Sold in 1973 to prevent its scheduled demolition to accommodate a parking lot, the 100-year-old boarding house and hotel opened as a museum in the same year. Luckily the concerned citizens of Golden kept this historically-significant, old hotel from being torn down.
National Register of Historic Places
Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel gives the visitor a glimpse of what life was like during late 19th-century Golden, Colorado. While unpretentious by modern standards, the hotel visitors of that day considered it very sumptuous.
After changing ownership several times, Ida Goetz purchased the hotel in 1892. She spoke little English, but was known for her German cooking. In the early 1900s, she made efforts to modernize the hotel. Taking advantage of Golden’s public water system, she added plumbing along with electricity, a brick kitchen, and third-floor dormers. She charged twenty five cents for customers to take a bath, a charge customers were willing to pay as indoor baths and plumbing would not be common in American homes for another twenty years. Some believe she made as much from selling baths as she did from renting rooms. Times have changed!
Room By Room
Start by viewing the dining room and the kitchen. Equipped as it would have been during Ida Goetz’s day, it reminds us how much more work was involved in preparing a meal back then. Upstairs are the rooms where the guests stayed. Furnished with the antiques of the time, one room has an original bunkhouse bed. The bed can be broken down for travel by loosening the ropes that held it together. When assembled, the tighter the ropes, the less the mattress sagged. You guessed it! That is where the expression, “sleep tight” comes from.
Step outside on to the balcony and take in one of the more interesting views in Golden. The balcony offers a good view of Castle Rock and the National Guard Armory, the same Golden landmarks that a visitor back then would have seen. According to local legend, city leaders forced Ms. Goetz to remove the balcony in 1900. Her guests apparently were spitting tobacco juice on unsuspecting pedestrians.
To the left of the home, as you face it, is the Twelfth Street Historic District. Filled with well-preserved homes, it is sometimes called the Legislative Walk, as many of the homeowners were prominent in local and state politics. The stone to construct the building was also quarried nearby on 12th Street, the same street that the building is on.
This home makes for an excellent tour especially when combined with the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, and the Golden History Center. All three are within walking distance of each other, and with many great restaurants in between, this is a great plan for enjoying a day in Golden, Colorado.