The first Feature Friday of 2012 is one of Durango’s most well known hotels – The General Palmer. The General Palmer is a very important and historic hotel in downtown Durango and the General Manager, Paula Nelson, has answered a few questions about the hotel for today’s Feature Friday.
1. The General Palmer was built in 1898. Can you tell me a little about the history of the hotel?
The hotel was built by General William Jackson Palmer, who was a civil war General. He was the same man that built the Durango, Silverton Narrow Gauge. The hotel was built as a hotel and has always been one, it has also never been closed down. We have housed some celebrities in the past, I remember meeting Christie Brinkley, we have also hosted Ed Marinara from the old Hill Street Blues series, Michael J Fox stayed with as well as country singer Tanya Tucker.
2. The Victorian setting is such a unique touch for a hotel. Are all the Victorian furnishings authentic?
All of our rooms are decorated in the Victorian theme and each room is different. Some of the furnishings are antiques but some are replicas, everything in the lobby is antique.
3. With over a hundred years in existence I’m sure the General Palmer has quite a few interesting stories. What’s your favorite?
You are so right many, many things have happened here at the Palmer since it’s inception, I have worked here the past 19 years! There are always the random ghost stories or unexplainable incidents.
One of my favorite memories is the French family who stayed with us for a week, their little boy of about 5 years old had half a piece of a toy rubber snake that he loved and would carry around and play with much of the time he was here. Well darned if he didn’t loose that little piece that he had, he just knew it was somewhere her in the hotel. We looked all over the place and didn’t find a thing. It was so small about maybe 4 inches long and black so it wouldn’t be very visible to begin with. Anyway about 2 months later, long after they had left, I was vacuuming in the solarium and behind a chair I found that piece of snake, I was so excited. We tracked down their address from our records and was able to send the treasured toy home to the little boy. Of course the family was ecstatic. About 3 years later an older gentleman -82 years old- came into the lobby, he was a cyclist visiting from France who was participating in Ride the Rockies, he and I began chatting and it turned out that he was somehow related to the little boy and knew of the lost snake incident. He was able to relay to me how thrilled the boy was and how he “drug” that little piece of rubber snake all around with him.
4. What’s your favorite way to spend a day in Durango?
My favorite way to spend a day is to grab a bit of Cold Stone Ice Cream and sit outside and watch the people go by, can’t get enough of that! Sometimes people will stop and chat with you and you hear some of the most amazing stories from them. I always ask where they are from and how they like Durango, they are so envious that I actually get to live here, in paradise.
5. What do you think is Durango’s best kept secret?
Not much of a secret but I think to appreciate it you really have to be able to access it and enjoy it. For me it will always be the “Outback”. Getting out into the high mountains that surround us will always be dear to my heart! Hiking trails that are barely visible and mapping out where you would like to end up is so challenging and wonderful to me.