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Photos: Gallery | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

Colorado Springs' first Broadmoor - the Broadmoor Casino

Before there was The Broadmoor Hotel, the was the Broadmoor Casino. Here is its story in pictures. The information and most of the photos are from the book "The Broadmoor Story. History. Tradition. Service. Excellence. Since 1918."

Portrait of Count James Pourtales

Count James Pourtales arrived in Colorado Springs in 1885 hoping to build upon the considerable wealth and holdings he had in Europe. The Prussian nobleman grew the Broadmoor Dairy into a regional name before constructing the Broadmoor Casino. While his envisioned Broadmoor City community never fully materialized, his mark was already made.

Margaretta M. Boas Photograph Collection, courtesy Pikes Peak Library District, 001-364.

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Opened on July 1, 1891, the Broadmoor Casino was a grand structure that featured a large billiards room, two game rooms, a ladies’ salon, one large dining room and two smaller ones.

This photo shows the original Broadmoor Casino circa 1896-97. Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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In order to create a grander setting for his casino, Portales first created Cheyenne Lake by building a broad, earthen dam. A large colony of prairie dogs had burrowed in the area, though, and the lake drained almost as fast as it could be filled. Ultimately, he lined the lake bed with clay, grumbling that the “blasted rodents” had cost him an additional $25,000 in building expenses.

Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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Since the casino was outside of the city limits, Pourtales emphasized entertainment and alcohol in the belief that they would be “a great attraction, for Colorado Springs is a temperance city.”

He brought in French chefs from New York and hired an array of entertainers. Despite his best efforts, the casino lost money at an alarming rate and Pourtales surrendered it to the London and New York Investment Company in lieu of his debts. His stewardship had lasted just 25 months.

Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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The new owners built a hotel just southeast of the casino and had them connected with a walkway. This was the first Broadmoor Hotel. It was later named the Colonial Club when Spencer Penrose purchased the property and built the current Broadmoor Hotel. The Colonial Club was demolished in 1961.

Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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The age of the grand casino was doomed to be short. On July 19, 1897, a fire broke out in the kitchen and burned the structure to the ground. Hotel guests were seen throwing their belongings out of windows in the panic, but no one was hurt in the blaze.

“Above the roaring flames could be heard the booming of exploding barrels of wines and liquors stored in the cellars of the building,” reported the Aspen Daily Times.

Image courtesy The Broadmoor.

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Printed on front "Broadmoor Casino, Colorado Springs, Colo." Printed on back "Broadmoor Casino, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Surrounded by rugged mountains and located just at the entrance of the famous Cheyenne Canons, Broadmoor Casino is one of the noted pleasure resorts of the Pike's Peak Region, visited annually by thousands of people from all parts of the United States."Postcard collection, courtesy Pikes Peak Librady District, 208-9491

Within a year, the owners replaced the destroyed casino with a new, less imposing structure designed by prolific Colorado Springs architect Thomas MacLaren. The Casino and hotel operated only during the summers and was never the lucrative venture Portales or the subsequent owners envisioned.

Postcard collection, courtesy Pikes Peak Librady District, 208-9491

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After the construction of The Broadmoor Hotel, the casino served as a clubhouse for the new golf course, which debuted in 1918. It served in that capacity until its demolition in 1993.

Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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The rubble of the demolished Broadmoor Casino in July of 1993. Margaretta M. Boas Photograph Collection, courtesy Pikes Peak Library District, 001-4736.

The casino came to an end in 1993, when it was razed to make way for a new golf clubhouse and other amenities.

Margaretta M. Boas Photograph Collection, courtesy Pikes Peak Library District, 001-4736.

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The new golf clubhouse blends the ambiance of the hotel with features of the casino, like the colonnaded entryway and the terrace overlooking the 18th green of the East Course.

Photo courtesy The Broadmoor.

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