Frontier Diary: Kendrick spoke out against closing saloons on Sunday
Frontier Historical Society
“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of authority. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.”
— Chauncey Depew
It was March 1885 when Thomas Kendrick stood on two lots on Blake Avenue in Glenwood Springs, surveying the potential of the new town. For the 55-year-old Kendrick, it was an opportunity to start anew, armed with knowledge and experience honed from 30 years in the hotel business. The town needed lodging. Kendrick and his family could fill that void.
The road to Glenwood Springs began for Thomas Kendrick and his wife Matilda in London, England. Shortly after their marriage in 1857, they came to the United States, settling in Chicago. Kendrick owned several Chicago rooming houses, and as his children grew, they became part of their father’s operation. Leadville, Colorado, called to Kendrick as it did for many, and Kendrick, and his family relocated in 1879 to be on the ground floor of opportunity. Over the next five years, Kendrick owned the Leadville House, the Grand Hotel and the Clarendon Hotel, each with good reputations in Leadville.
The two lots on the southeast side of Blake Avenue suited Kendrick. For the sum of $1,400 he purchased both lots from William Gelder and Joseph Enzensperger of the Defiance Town and Land Co., and quickly constructed a 40-foot-by-60-foot tent hotel. Glenwood Springs was incorporated Aug. 28, 1885, and the first town trustees elected. Kendrick was one of those first trustees, and around a pine table in his hotel the first trustee’s meeting was held on Oct. 5, 1885.
No rail line had been constructed to Glenwood Springs. Kendrick, though, believed rail service was in the town’s future. He and his two oldest sons, George and Thomas E., began the purchase of lots near the proposed rail line. In November 1885 four lots from the corner of Seventh Street and Colorado Avenue working westward were purchased as were two lots on the west end of that block. Another year and a half passed before the remaining three lots were purchased. Kendrick had 3/6 ownership, son George 1/6 ownership, and son Thomas E. 2/6 ownership. In 1886 the first of several small rooming cottages known as the Kendrick Cottages was constructed. Once rail service came to Glenwood Springs, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad constructed a depot on the Pitkin Avenue corner directly across from the Kendrick Cottages, making Kendrick’s economically priced lodgings the first seen by visitors.
Often unorthodox in his views, Kendrick was a strong-willed man who made his opinions known. He was a believer in the rights of the businessman and confronted the decisions of government. In April 1890, the Glenwood Springs board of trade debated the required closing of saloons on Sunday as mandated by Colorado law and demanded by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The Garfield County sheriff had been directed to make sure the closings occurred. No board of trade member agreed with the law, including Kendrick, who found the closing “injurious to the interests of the town.” Kendrick, however, “brought down the house,” when, armed with a Bible, argued “total abstinence and sabbatarianism were both unscriptured and intolerant; and that the true way to promote temperance was first moral suasion, second teaching the evils of overindulgence.” He argued that Temperance was defined as “moderate indulgence, so that a moderate drinker cannot be called an intemperate man. It is the abuse and not the use of stimulants that is to be guarded against.”
Again he said there was not a single word in favor of total abstinence in the whole Bible. His lengthy argument solidified the board of trade’s decision to defy Colorado law and keep the saloons open on Sunday.
Kendrick publicly questioned most happenings of the town, sometimes in scathing form, either in person, or perhaps as a newspaper columnist known as “Colorow’s Ghost.” He was viewed having “peculiar ideas on many subjects,” but most knew his motives were to better the community he helped build.
Kendrick died March 6, 1913. Today the Kendrick Cottage site is a parking lot for Garfield County. Newly installed stop signs for a three way stop create a pause for travelers at the corner of Seventh and Colorado Avenue. No one knows how Kendrick would view these changes. If he were here, undoubtedly he would let us know.
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. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.
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