After more than 100 years, Glenwood still has no convention center
Frontier Historical Society
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
“We are without an auditorium in which the larger conventions can be held. With a suitable meeting place, Glenwood would no doubt be chosen as the meeting point of many organizations which are now unable to find a suitable hall room.”
– Glenwood Post,
July 20, 1901
Any thriving community in Colorado in the late 1800s desired a large public meeting place. A convention center or auditorium enticed organizations to hold meetings throughout the state, bettering the economy of the hosting community. Glenwood Springs desired just such an auditorium. Paying for the structure was another issue.
The first building designated a convention center in Glenwood Springs was Hyde’s Hall on the southwest corner of Cooper and Grand Avenues. Privately constructed in 1886, the small size of the building was perfect for community gatherings but impractical to be advertised as auditorium for large convention use. As the hot springs pool and bathhouse drew more visitors, the need for a larger convention center loomed over Glenwood Springs.
With the State Bridge on Glenwood Springs’ Grand Avenue set for dedication in April 1891, the Odd Fellows celebrating their 75th anniversary and scheduling their state convention at the same time in Glenwood Springs, and President Benjamin Harrison visiting the community a month later, C.W. Durand answered the call by creating an 80-by-50-foot meeting hall complete with stage in his building in today’s Eagles Lodge on River Front Avenue. Known as Durand’s Hall or Durand’s Opera House, the auditorium served the convention needs of that year and later sponsored events for the first Strawberry Day, boxing matches, and a concert by John Phillip Sousa.
Many in the Glenwood Springs business community continued to crave a convention center. As the 20th century opened, Sen. Edward T. Taylor from Glenwood Springs pushed locally for the creation of such a place. His efforts failed to gain momentum. The Glenwood Post newspaper also outlined the economic benefits of such a building, but the community did not pick up the cause.
The convention center proposal languished until 1911 when the issue became a campaign cause. In February, Glenwood Springs Mayor Edward Drach, called a meeting to discuss the building of an auditorium in conjunction with a city hall, jail and fire station.
Drach, a Democrat, received Republican criticism during his third term as mayor for allegedly being inattentive to his duties and for stagnating the community’s growth. In a last-minute campaign effort to show action, Drach proposed an organization be created to construct a municipal facility and convention building with the town issuing certificates of indebtedness to the organization at 6 percent interest. Other plans were presented by present and past trustees, but no consensus was reached.
Drach won re-election in April 1911 by a single vote under a cloud of election impropriety, with the press accusing him of “accepting a position he knew he did not deserve.” Drach’s final term as mayor ended in 1912, during which time the convention center issue evaporated.
The American Legion refurbished the Trumbor Building at 818 Colorado Ave. in 1940 for use as a meeting place and convention center. The Hotel Colorado over the years has hosted many conventions. But Glenwood Springs still does not have an official convention center. As the Glenwood Post stated in 1911, needing a thing and getting it are two different matters.
Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Fall, winter and spring hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.
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