COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Antlers Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Colorado. General William J. Palmer built it in downtown Colorado Springs near the railroad depot in 1883 shortly after he founded the city.
Aaron Duff is the general manager of The Antlers and has brushed up on his local history during his 17 years at the historic location.
“William J. Palmer built it as a place for the well-to-do,” Duff said. “It was supposed to be a place for people from London and other parts to experience the West.”
Just after the turn of the century, a millionaire businessman who was making a fortune mining in nearby Cripple Creek tried to stay at the hotel a few times.
“Word was Spencer Penrose tried to get a room here,” Duff said. “I’m picturing he came in on a horse all dusty. He was quickly escorted off the property, which was comical, because he went on to open The Broadmoor.”
Apparently it wasn’t comical at the time. Many have said Penrose carried a grudge.
Beth Davis is the archivist at The Broadmoor and confirmed that part of the story.
“He and General Palmer weren’t the best of friends,” she said. “We do know that he was denied a room when he came down from Cripple Creek.”
Another part of the story claims Penrose mounted his horse one evening after consuming several alcoholic drinks and rode it right inside the lobby of The Antlers.
“The horse we’re not sure about,“ Davis admitted. “But, we do know he was living at the El Paso club because he was not given a room and they may have bothered him.”
When Palmer passed away in 1906, Penrose tried to buy the property, but was turned down.
“Penrose made an offer and for whatever reason, it was refused,” Duff said. “I’m sure he took that to his grave.”
It was a mixed blessing for Penrose, who liked his gambling and alcohol — both of which were outlawed in the city limits.
“It was illegal to drink inside the city limits but not out here,” Davis said.
Penrose purchased the former Count Pourtales Casino from Myron Stratton in 1916.
“It already had gambling and ladies card room, and music,” Davis said.
So what about the name — Broadmoor — and its spelling?
“There was some urban legend heard about Penrose denied the ability to buy The Antlers and the little ‘A’ stands for the little Antlers,” Davis said. “He wanted to kind of diss The Antlers.”
“As you can see, ‘The Broadmoor’ is all capital letters except for the ‘A is shrunk a little,” he said. “Us at the Antlers believe it was because Spencer was snubbed because he wasn’t allowed to stay here in the day.”
The Broadmoor has a different story.
“What we found out, there was a copyright issue and trademark issue because this area had already been called The Broadmoor since the 1870s,” Davis said.
The entire area already bore The Broadmoor name. William Willcox had moved to the area from Pennsylvania and thought the combination of mountains and terrain resembled the Broadmoors of Scotland, so he named it as such when he purchased the land for a dairy farm.
“He couldn’t trademark copyright the name Broadmoor for the hotel,” Davis said. “So he had to make a change in some manner, so he raised the ‘A.'”
So the legend of slighting The Antlers?
“It’s a beautiful story, but it’s really just a trademark issue,” Davis said.
“It’s possible. It’s always touted as a friendly rivalry,” Duff said. “We actually had the same management group for 30 years. So, we’re not bitter rivals. Just friendly.”