Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ed and June Howard

Boulder has long been known as a hippie haven, and no decade conjures up the hippie in the mind's eye more than the 1960s. It was a tough time by then for the Hotel Boulderado. A guest left a note summing up the stay: "Toilet got stuck in night, had a hard time stopping it. Towel rak fell down when I hung up towel. Lamp switch out of order, won't always turn off. Shades too small and don't keep out streetlights. Pillows like rocks. I scarcely slept, all things taken together."

It took a brave spirit to take on a hotel in the condition the Boulderado was in, and that spirit was embodied by Ed and June Howard. The Howards had been friends with the Hutsons for years and agreed to lease the Boulderado from Winnie Hutson beginning in June of 1961. The Howards worked hard to keep the hotel running -- Ed represented management, maintenance, and also worked as a desk clerk, while June also worked behind the desk, connected incoming and outgoing phone calls, and worked briefly in the dining room.

Ed and June cultivated a family atmosphere in the lobby. When the Boulderado first opened in 1909, an orchestra played to entertain guests. The lobby orchestra was replaced by a Victrola, then a radio, and then during the 1960s, a television that guests could gather round and watch. The Howards encouraged the community to come in during the holidays for sing-a-longs. Many of the hotel's guests at the time were permanent residents, mostly elderly folks who could no longer live on their own.

Not everyone in Boulder thought the Boulderado was worth holding on to. City administrators declared it to be a fire hazard because of the cherrywood staircase that stretched from the basement up to the fifth floor and wished to tear the hotel down to make more room for parking downtown. They gave the Howards two options: either encase the entire staircase in sheet rock, or install a sprinkler system throughout the hotel. Ed effectively saved the Hotel Boulderado by deciding to install the sprinklers.

In 1967, just six years after taking over, the Howards had had enough and passed the ownership and management of the Boulderado over to Louis Winterberger, whom we will meet in a future blog post. If you are interested in reading more about the Howards and the Boulderado in the 1960s, check out Ed's oral history or June's Boulderado story.