Friday, October 2, 2009

Bill and Winnie Hutson

A bit more Boulderado history for you on this chilly but sunny October day, this time concerning the Hutsons, Bill and Winnie (seen left ~ photo from the Hutson family collection).

William (Bill) Hutson, Jr. came from a family that was very familiar with the hotel business. His father, William Sr., owned and operated three hotels throughout the Midwest in Kansas and Missouri, and when it was time to select a gift for Bill and his new beauty queen bride, Winnie, William decided to continue the tradition. He bought the Hotel Boulderado for the young couple in 1940, the year after they were married, for $40,000. William Sr. added the Boulderado to his chain of Hutson Hotels, but turned the day-to-day operations and management over to his son, Bill. This marked the first time in Boulderado history that the hotel was privately owned. A Daily Camera article rejoiced at the news: "The sale is heralded by citizens of Boulder for it will put in possession of the hotel a company with sufficient capital to make the hotel what all Boulder wants it to be."

War, however, interrupted plans for modernization. Bill Hutson became a civilian flight instructor and then joined the Army Air Corps in 1942. He was stationed in a variety of locations, including Arizona, Texas, and California. Wherever he went, Winnie Hutson followed him. Hotel management during this time fell on a few Hutson Hotel employees, and occupancy became so high that they had to limit guest stays to three days in order to accommodate the demand.

When World War II came to a close in August of 1945, Bill and Winnie returned to Boulder to start improvements on the Boulderado. The coal furnace was converted over to natural gas. Electric lights were installed in each rooms, replacing the original gas and electric light fixtures. Carpet was laid in the halls, lobby, and in fifteen rooms. Fluorescent light took over the illumination of the lobby, and on the rooftop a large neon sign replaced the wooden one.

Winnie gave birth to a son, William (Bill) Hutson III, in 1946. While the family wasn't living in the hotel, like Hugh Mark did years earlier, Bill still grew up knowing every inch of the Hotel Boulderado, and would spend every Halloween trick-or-treating among the rooms of the permanent residents.

Bill Jr. turned the managerial duties of the Boulderado over to his friend, Ralph Hume, who had already been working at the hotel since the 1930s, first as a bellman and then as a front desk clerk. The Hutsons continued to manage the dining room, which was the Boulderado Coffee Shop in the late 1950s. Entrees could be had for under $2, and all dinners included potato, salad, fruit, and a beverage. Winnie's mother, Rosa May, worked for a time as the head of the housekeeping department, and lived in room 505 until she died.

It was during the Hutsons tenure at the Hotel Boulderado that the stained-glass ceiling in the lobby caved in after a heavy Halloween snowstorm. Less than two months later, William Hutson Sr. died, and Bill Jr. followed just four months later. Bill Hutson III was 14 years old. Ralph Hume continued to operate the hotel, but in 1961 Winnie decided to finally cut the ties and leased the Boulderado to another couple, the Howards. Stay tuned to learn about their adventures running the Hotel Boulderado in the 1960s!