By Conor McCue

CAÑON CITY, Colo., (CBS4) – The people behind some of Denver’s most-popular revitalization projects are now focusing on another Colorado gem — the St. Cloud Hotel. This one is more than a hundred miles away in downtown Cañon City.

(credit: CBS)

The company Johnson Nathan Strohe, responsible for revitalization projects on Union Station, the Ramble Hotel and the Maven at the Dairy Block, is working to do the same to the St. Cloud Hotel. Stan Bullis, president of Unbridled, bought the hotel and seven other buildings last year and is working with the Denver-based architecture firm on the project. He hopes the finished products will breathe new life into an area known for its prisons and proximity to the Royal Gorge.

Stan Bullis (credit: CBS)

“I actually think it’s the most undiscovered town in Colorado,” Bullis said. “I think it’s just been a victim of bad PR.”

The hotel opened in 1890. I was originally built in Silver Cliff, but the owners disassembled it brick-by-brick and moved it to Cañon City. Over the decades, the hotel served as a popular place to watch silent films and was a backdrop in John Wayne’s “True Grit.”

John Wayne starred in “True Grit” with parts shot in Canon City, Castle Rock, Gunnison, Montrose and Ridgway. (credit: Paramount Pictures)

The building also has a dark history. For four years in the 1920s it was the headquarters for a KKK chapter. During a tour of the hotel, which has been closed for several years, Bullis showed off the Klan’s former bank vault and a hidden window in the bar.

(credit: CBS)

“Someone must’ve sat back here and kept an eye on what was going on,” he told CBS4.

Bullis sees the dark part of the building’s history as an opportunity.

“We like the idea of keeping the good and redeeming the bad things of the past,” Bullis said.

Throughout the facelift, Unbridled and Johnson Nathan Strohe will preserve mainstays, such as the original bar and some furniture. After that, they’ll modernize the rest of the building and add another dozen rooms.

(credit: Johnson Nathan Strohe)

The lobby and restaurant will see major changes, including the addition of windows and a farm-to-table restaurant.

“The biggest move I think, in terms of how this space on the ground floor is going to feel, is to really reopen the storefront along main street,” described architect, Tobias Strohe.

(credit: Johnson Nathan Strohe)

The idea is to create a meeting place for locals and visitors alike, while also giving a new beginning to the town.

“Revitalizing this hotel will bring visitors, and visitors bring economy, and economy brings innovation, and innovation brings growth, and so I feel like we are on the ground floor,” Bullis said.

(credit: Johnson Nathan Strohe)

The projected grand opening is set for April 2, 2022, on Cañon City’s 150th anniversary.

“If we can hit that weekend on an anniversary and light up this corner again, I just think it’d be really special,” Bullis said.

Conor McCue

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