Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hugh Mark

A little bit of Boulderado history for you today concerning another early owner and manager, Hugh Mark (seen left ~ photo from the Mark family collection). When the Hotel Boulderado opened in 1909, local residents were allowed to come in the night before to inspect the hotel's elegance and luxury. Hugh Mark was one of the people who stopped by on December 31, 1908. He would return just a few years later, in 1912, as the Assistant Manager to William Beattie, whom we met in a previous blog post.

Hugh Mark married a schoolteacher, Etta, in 1916, and the next year Beattie transferred managerial duties to Mark. Over the next few months, Hugh Mark enlisted the help of other local businessmen to put together a proposal by which they would jointly buy the hotel. Hugh Mark owned the largest share, taking half the stock in recognition for his manager position. They wrote, "It is our aim to conduct the Hotel in a first-class manner in every way." Beginning on June 1st, 1917, Hugh Mark received a salary of $100 each month in addition to room and board for his family.

Hugh Mark transformed the day-to-day operations of the Hotel Boulderado into a family business. His brother, Leonard, went to work as a desk clerk, and another brother, William, was employed as the engineer in charge of the coal furnace in the basement. Frank Mark worked as the dining room chef, and his wife, Alza, became known throughout the community as the dining room's hostess. Here's a newspaper clipping from 1932 advertising for their New Years Day dinner.

Hugh and Etta soon started their own family, bringing two children into the world and into the Boulderado. Bill and Betty lived in the hotel with their parents. Hugh and Bill shared the upstairs apartments in room 505 while Etta and Betty occupied 203 and 204. (These two second-floor rooms were later converted into the Evergreen Room, now used for meetings and as part of Mezzanine weddings.) Betty Mark later recalled in adulthood, "The whole hotel was my home, and there were no restrictions as to where I could go."

Betty and Bill Mark (Mark Family Collection)

Under Hugh Mark's leadership, the Hotel Boulderado thrived, in part to his marketing and advertising efforts. Mark understood the need to reach out to future hotel guests and created brochures reminding people of Colorado's unique attributes. Below are some samples of his early innovative work.

Hugh Mark was well-known throughout the town as "the biggest little man in Boulder." Sadly, his life was cut short suddenly and unexpectedly due to a heart attack in 1934. For the next few years, various members of the Mark family and the Boulderado's investors tried to make a go managing the hotel, but it wasn't until 1940 that the next real chapter began for the Boulderado. Stay tuned to meet the Hutsons!