Saint James Tea Room in Georgetown Colorado
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Historic Setting

History of Georgetown, Colorado

In 1859 George and David Griffith discovered gold at the valley site of what is now Georgetown. For the next years, it was the lure of gold that brought prospectors to the mining camp alongside Clear Creek. But soon the cry of "Silver!" was raised and it was silver that brought prosperity and growth to Georgetown, later known as the "Silver Queen of the Rockies."

By 1870 Georgetown was a bustling town of 2000 residents and was becoming a true community. Merchants, doctors, lawyers, and newspapermen and their families were moving in.  In 1874, an impressive brick schoolhouse was constructed. Churches, hotels, shops, social clubs, and opera houses soon followed and made Georgetown the hub of activity for the surrounding mining region.

The peak of the Georgetown boom came in 1877, when 5,000 people lived in the valley. In that same year, the Colorado Central Railroad connected the town to Denver and the East. During the 1880's and early 1890's, fine brick buildings were constructed, and flagstone sidewalks, granite walls, and a city park were further signs of refinement and permanence.

But the boom was to turn to bust. The town was still thriving in 1893.  Congress repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, causing the price of silver to plummet. Although optimism remained high for a while, the "Silver Queen" has lost some of its luster, and the great mining era gradually came to an end. Some mining continued well into the 20th century, but by the 1930's, the town's population had dwindled to around 300. Businesses and homes were abandoned and many of the old buildings were razed. Georgetown seemed to be headed for ghost-town status.

During the 1950's and 1960's, however, growth in the Denver metropolitan area awakened new interest in the nearby mountain valets. Many "flatlanders" bought old Georgetown's houses to use as vacation homes. Commonly, these have stayed in the families, and this factor has been responsible for saving many of Georgetown's Victorian-era homes. Also, for decades various non-profit organizations in town have fostered a strong preservation ethic. Presently the town boasts five such organizations, remarkable for a small town. Today Georgetown is a thriving community of about 1,100 residents and a living reminder of its historic heritage.

History of the Building

Joshua Monti, A Swiss immigrant became a resident of Georgetown in the 1860's and was a long-time merchant in the town. He and his brother, Pasquale, built this handsome Italianate building, in the mid-1870s. It served as a ground level store and second floor living quarters, with some space devoted to commercial offices. But with the death of Pasquale in late 1876, Joshua, who had extensive real estate and mining interests in town, probably sold the building to the owner of the restaurant next door (to the south), which was called "The International."

In 1877 the restaurant expanded and was converted to a hotel; John Oertli was the proprietor. The new International Hotel boasted 24 sleeping rooms for transient guests and boarders and a "Large Ladie's parlor on the ground floor."  In June 1880, Oertli was advertising "$.35 meals at the International."  In the fall of that same year the building changed hands yet again and became the St. Andrew House. The building remained the St. Andrew House at least through 1893, but by 1900 it was called the Thompson Hotel, by 1907 the Hotel Dewey, and in the mid-20th century the St. James.

The adjoining restaurant is long gone, and today this fine structure has returned to its origins with a large shop (Rocky Mountain Miniatures) and The Dusty RoseTea Room on the ground floor and living quarters above.

Building

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