Capitol Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn
1207 N Pennsylvania Street
KEATING HOUSE: VICTORIAN GEM TURNED BED & BREAKFAST
If you could build a big house anywhere in Denver you wanted, where would you choose?
This elegant Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne residence was originally built in 1891 for Jeffrey and Mary Keating. He was a real estate developer and a founder of the McPhee and McGinnity Lumber Company, and she was active in social affairs and charity events. The lot on which the Keating House was constructed was plotted in the late 1860s as part of Porter’s Addition, in the fashionable Capitol Hill neighborhood. During Denver’s silver boom, many of the city’s prominent citizens built grand mansions here. The Keating House was one of the last homes constructed in the neighborhood before the Silver Crash of 1893.
The home was built out of red-orange Manitou sandstone, which was laid in square-cut blocks on regular courses, alternately wide and narrow. The rough-hewn style of stonework, popular in the 1890s, was made possible by the availability of native stone (Murphy, 1997). The house exemplifies the exuberance of the Victorian era with its Corinthian columns, bay windows, gothic ornaments, a circular porch and turrets. It has retained many of the original features, such as plasterwork, windows and woodwork, with a well-preserved main oak staircase (Grinstead, 1997). The architects were C.M. Reiche, R.M. Carter, and C.A. Smith, who had an office together in the Bank Building at 17th and Arapahoe.
The house changed hands several times through the years. The Keatings lived in the house for no more than two years, for reasons unknown. The house was then rented to Charles and Hester Bayly. Charles was the owner of Underhill Manufacturing Co. before it was sold in 1902 for $30,000 to industrialist John Nesmith and his wife Elizabeth. He was one of America’s leading authorities on chemistry, smelting, blast furnaces and civil engineering. The family lived here until 1910 and maintained ownership for many years after.
Following the deaths of Charles and Hester Bayly, the title passed to their two daughters, and from 1910 to 1923 they rented the house to Charles and Mel Loughridge. In 1923, a $20,000 warranty deed marked the transfer of the house to Buena Vista Crew. She and her husband Frank moved into the home and in 1924 converted it into the Buena Vista Hotel, after which the Crews left the residence and hired a manager. In 1933, they sold the house to Elvia and George Harvey, who maintained it as the Buena Vista through 1935, when the hotel ceased operation, and then rented it to Clarence Walters for one year. Records indicate the home was vacant in 1937.
The next year, the Harveys sold the house to James Weatherly and his wife Fay. They leased the home and it became a succession of convalescent homes through 1942. In 1944, Ophelia Harrelson bought the property, and soon after opened it as the Fuller House Apartments. In 1949, Bessie Farr, manager of the apartment house, and a friend, Mabel Hill, bought the property for $35,000. Two years later they sold it to Effie Willhite, who renamed it Willhite Guest Home. In 1954, it became the Holly Apartments and remained so into the 1960s. At that time, it was converted into office space.
In 1993, the house was purchased with the intention of converting the space into the Capitol Hill Mansion, which involved mainly restoring the original floor plan. Seven bathrooms were either added or upgraded, and a complete kitchen was installed, as only one existed in the house. Other changes, such as removing relatively new walls, opening up the rear staircase, and closing and/or moving doorways, brought the home back to its earlier architectural integrity. Amazingly, the plaster ceilings in the living room and dining room, the plaster walls in the foyer, the stained glass window on the landing and most of the woodwork in the home appear to be original and unmolested by time or previous tenants. The residence has been the Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn, operated by father-and-daughter team of Carl Schmidt II and Claire Bailey, since 2001 (Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn).
Murphy, J. 1997. Geology Tour of Denver’s Capitol Hill Stone Mansions. Denver: Historic Denver, Inc.
Grinstead, L. 1997. Molly Brown’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood. Denver: Historic Denver, Inc.
Capitol Hill Mansion Bed and Breakfast Inn. Home. Retrieved from http://www.capitolhillmansion.com/.