Durango hotel turns 125 years old

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Tom Doak, left, shows off the room where Louis L’Amour purportedly wrote most of the Sackett series during an open house and room dedication to commemorate the 125th birthday of the Strater Hotel. 
this year. Owner Rod Barker said seven of the 93 rooms in the hotel have been dedicated to locals, dignitaries, and institutions, and he said he hopes other locals who have a history in Durango will have rooms dedicated to them in the future. “There are a lot of people whose names are going to fade away if we don’t do this,” Barker said.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Tom Doak, left, shows off the room where Louis L’Amour purportedly wrote most of the Sackett series during an open house and room dedication to commemorate the 125th birthday of the Strater Hotel. this year. Owner Rod Barker said seven of the 93 rooms in the hotel have been dedicated to locals, dignitaries, and institutions, and he said he hopes other locals who have a history in Durango will have rooms dedicated to them in the future. “There are a lot of people whose names are going to fade away if we don’t do this,” Barker said.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

Ever since it was a gleam in Cleveland pharmacist Henry Strater’s eye, the Strater Hotel has been front and center on the Durango stage. The iconic hotel turns 125 this year.

“The Strater was and is what every Western town wanted and needed,” said Duane Smith, local historian and Fort Lewis College professor, “a first-class hotel.”

The Strater was built in 1887 at a cost of $70,000, more than $1.7 million in today’s dollars. Constructed of 376,000 native red bricks with hand-carved sandstone cornices and sills, it is now home to the world’s largest collection of American Victorian antiques.

In the early days, many locals would close their homes in the winter and move into the Strater, where every room had a wood stove, and the hotel boasted a strategically designed three-story privy.

The hotel has welcomed Will Rogers and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy as well as providing inspiration to Western author Louis L’Amour, whose favorite room, No. 222, allowed him to listen to the honky-tonk piano in the Diamond Belle Saloon while writing.

Rod and Laurie Barker have owned it since 1983, the third generation of Barkers to own the Strater since 1926.