Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roam with the Gnome

The Key Room has a new activity for kids and adults alike! Come find where the Gnome hid some of our most intriguing keys by picking up our scavenger hunt.

This week, Coleton Tanner, age 5, found all 10 keys with a little help from his parents. By showing me his favorite key on the scavenger hunt, he was awarded a very prestigious prize: the Junior Key Keeper Award.

Come unlock the mysteries of our keys by Roaming with the Gnome. If you can complete the task successfully, you might walk away with an award!

Key Room Museum Curator

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baldpate Family Memories

As you may be aware, the Baldpate Inn has been run by two families since its very beginning. Those families, however, go beyond just the Mace and Smith family trees. Our staff lives, works, and plays for a full season together and by the end of their stay, they are inextricably tied to the Baldpate Inn's history. This extended family's geneology spans 95 years of operation and has undergone several changes as times have evolved, but the feeling of being home in a rustic mountain inn will never leave.

For this Share Your Story series, Becky Page Yoza recalled her experiences at the Baldpate Inn, and we are privileged  to include some of what she told us here:

"I worked at Baldpate twice.  The first was the summer of 1991 after I graduated from high school.  I was a rotator so I did every job except front desk.  Harold did front desk back then.  He was 150 years old but we loved him.  My favorite job was laundry, believe it or not.  Using the mangler was the best part.  My least favorite job is probably housekeeping.  I’d do dish dog over housekeeping to this day.  The second was the summer of 2003 when I just moved to Colorado.  I was much older at this point and worked in many other capacities and Lois was doing me a favor by hiring me part-time on the desk.  It was so different the second time around not living at Baldpate and only working part-time and only doing one job.  I couldn’t complain because it was still great.  It was so different being so old compared to the rest of the staff.
If I tell you the type of music I listened to as Dish Dog it will definitely date me.  However, I always listend to hip hop and/or rap to the annoyance of my team.   My first year we had several “lifers” that had worked at Baldpate multiple times and knew the drill.  That was very helpful.  I remember Brad and Barb Martin.  Of course there’s MacKenzie and Jen.  I miss Duke.  He wasn’t an employee but he was part of the staff.  As a guard dog he had an important task although most times he was lounging on the porch and people had to step over him to get in.  Or, he was running down through town and Lois or Mike had to go retrieve him.  I didn’t say he was a very good guard dog!
I remember MacKenzie camping out in the car next to the dumpster to see the bear who kept breaking into the dumpster. He was about 13.  I remember the building getting hit by lightning one day during a mid-day thunderstorm.  I remember the squirrels running through the dining room; always a hit. Not! I remember a giant grey squirrel sitting behind my customer as I delivered the bill in the near empty dining room late at night.  I remember trying not to react as I handed it over and slowly backed away from the table.  I remember the second time I worked there a bear was seen at the back of the lodge on the hill.  I went outside to see as the bear walked into the building through the second floor door that was always open right by the staff laundry room.  I could have done without that.
Many things changed from the first time I worked there to the second.  The second time we had the computer system which we didn’t before. Also, we served alcohol which we never did before.  Not too much else was different.  The cornbread is still a great hit.  The Beef Stew is still huge.  I still dream about Lois’ pecan pie.
I left the key from my 1999 Red VW Beetle that met a very tragic and untimely end on the I-25 in Denver.  I had a love/hate relationship with that car.  I loved it in the very beginning and then when stuff starting going wrong I wanted desperately to get rid of the car. However, I didn’t mean for the car to meet such a tragic end.  I find sometimes that I long for certain things about that car and forget some of the bad qualities about it.  This is just like any ex-relationship.  Moreover, I find it quite symbolic of my experiences at Baldpate in that some of the best and worst moments in my personal life occurred there.  However, now that I live many thousands of miles away I find myself longing for Baldpate and the memories I had there.  It will always have a special place in my heart, kind of like that car.  I have found my key since I left it there.  I find it every time I come back."
The Mangler PosterBecky's memories certainly resonate with present and past staff, but for non-staff members the words"Dish Dog" and "Mangle" may be new. To keep our non-staff family in the loop, we can explain those terms.

At the Baldpate, rotating staff has several different positions ranging from wait staff, prep cook, housekeeper, and dishwasher. Our dishwasher of the day is affectionately known as a Dish Dog, and they double as the kitchen DJ. On housekeeping days, rotators are in charge of laundry. Our basement houses an industrial sized ironing machine. One year the staff discovered a horror movie about a similar machine, entitled The Mangler. The name stuck, along with some related graffiti on the wall above the machine for the entertainment of future Baldpate housekeepers.

Thanks to Becky for sharing her Baldpate experience with our extended family! If you are interested in being featured for a Baldpate Share Your Story, email us at keys@baldpateinn.com.

Key Room Museum Curator

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reminicent Registers

One of the most rewarding parts of the Baldpate Inn Key Room is the living history that survives here. Since our collections are comprised of visitor contributions, many of our guests have a special tie to the keys, photographs, and even our guest registers.

The Baldpate has the distinction of being the only inn in Colorado with a complete set of original guest registers since opening. We have been working to document the incredible wealth of information these registers contain, and with good reason.

Just recently, a couple came to the Baldpate in search of their names in the 1968 guest register. They explained that they got married on August 14 and had driven their yellow Triumph TR250 to the Baldpate for their honeymoon. The newly married Wilhites spent a few days in Estes Park to begin their long, happy marriage.

This August 14th, the Wilhites celebrated their 44th anniversary by coming to visit the bed and breakfast where they spent their honeymoon. After quite a bit of searching through our 95 years worth of guest signatures, we were able to find an unassuming signature of Mr. & Mrs. Q. M. Wilhite, who stayed in room 14. The couple was excited to have finally found their signature after a few unsuccessful attempts in previous years of visiting while the inn was not open. The Wilhites found a priceless token of the beginning of their marriage as part of their celebration.

At the Baldpate, we have embarked on the task of copying the names and information located in these registers for their preservation and research. Some of our earliest registers contain sketches by the local Estes Park artist, Dave Stirling. Because we wish to keep all parts of our historic registers for the use and enjoyment of the public, the registers are being documented in photographic form as well as through a database. Eventually, we hope to be able to link our guest registers with our key database, and even our photograph collection so that we can align guest signatures, keys and portraits. Until then though, feel free to come and sign in on the register. When you come back in 44 years, your name will be waiting for you!

Key Room Museum Curator

Key Room News: Join us at 7 pm tonight to hear Estes Park Museum Director Derek Fortini present this season's last Summer Enchanted Evening, Charles Mace: Photography and Life in anticipation for their upcoming exhibit on the photography of one of the Baldpate's original owners.

Friday, August 31, 2012

An Architectural Evening with Baldpate

Thank you to all those who came to see the Key Room Summer Enchanted Evening presentation on August 22! Sara and I were so happy and honored to see such an attentive and enthusiastic audience; you came with fantastic questions and we couldn't have been more pleased to give you a deeper knowledge of our collections and history.

For those of you who missed our Key Room presentation but wanted to learn more about the Baldpate's rich history, you're in luck! This coming Wednesday, September 5, the Baldpate Key Room staff will yet again lead a discussion of the hidden wealth of information that lies within the Baldpate's walls. Or better yet, a discussion about those walls. 

This Wednesday evening come to learn about our building's origins, traits, and why the Baldpate is a fantastic example of Rustic architecture. Not only will the presentation cover facts and stories from the live-in museum staff, but will feature a special contribution from the second and current owner of the Baldpate Inn, Lois Smith.

The lecture is free and snacks will be provided. To secure a spot for dinner before the 7pm event, call us for reservations at 970.586.KEYS.

Hope to see you there!
Key Room Curator

P. S. Curious why this post is tagged, "News from the desk of Miss Evelyn Rhodes?" Flip to Chapter 21 of Earl Derr Biggers' novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate to unlock the mystery!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting Sketchy

Today, while documenting some of our keys in preparation for our upcoming Summer Enchanted Evening, Sara, our museum manager, and I were introduced to a spectacular 16 year-old from San Diego.

Grace Klein and her artwork
Grace Klein was enjoying the Key Room in a way I have never seen before; each key she found interesting provided a subject for her sketchbook. In seconds, Grace would draw an incredibly accurate sketch of our Collections.

Grace's sketch of the Vatican door key
As we spoke with Grace, she kindly offered to draw our favorite keys and leave them for Sara and I to enjoy.
Sara and the Lobster Lock and Key set from the Chinese Mandarin Palace that depicts the sea and its contents

Grace's drawings of my favorite key, the Key to Knowledge and Sara's favorite, the Lobster Lock and Key.
We welcome all aspiring artists to come and take in the intricacies of our Key Collection. You never know what inspiration you will find here!

Key Room Museum Curator

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Growing Up With Baldpate

The Baldpate Inn, October 1989
In anticipation for his Summer Enchanted Evening presentation this Wednesday, one of our earliest former employees, Brad Martin, recorded his Baldpate memories for us.  It is my pleasure to provide his story here for a blast back to the early years of the Baldpate's second ownership.

"I first came to Baldpate for a summer job in May 1989.  I had just graduated from college and had no idea of what I was doing next or what to expect.  I just knew I was moving to Colorado.  When I got there I was home!
Brad Martin with the key to Iowa, a corn cob. 2012
This was only the third season the Smiths had owned and operated the Inn.  They had purchased the main lodge from a Texas lawyer and developer, Rex Baker.  Much of the land that surrounded the main lodge, including most of the cabins and all of Lily Lake was still owned by Mr. Baker. His office building, up the hill from the inn and beside Highway 7, would eventually become the Lily Lake / National Park Visitor Center. Next to his office, there was even an abandoned, rickety old fire watchtower.  The “Danger” and “Closed” signs only encouraged a couple of midnight ascents – Don’t tell Lois.
Our staff consisted of Lois, Mike, Jennifer, a very young Mackenzie, some very young cousins or friends of the Smiths, Lois’s dad Sam, Mike’s mom Dot, a retired Smith family friend Harold worked the front desk, a local Estes Park friend Pat, also retired, a just graduated from high school gal from Oklahoma named Shelly, and me.   Occasionally, we also got some help from a local high schooler named Reed.  The Smiths were loving and generous so anything and everything that needed doing to make the Baldpate work we did.  We were small, mighty, and instantly family!  I have never worked so hard in all my life as those first couple of summers.
I hope you noted the ages of most of the staff.  Many of them were barely teenagers.  I had a few friends from college who had gotten jobs in Estes Park and they referred to the Baldpate staff as “the toddlers.”  Shelly was the only person remotely close to my age.  She was cute, flirty and again close to my age (kind of) – so we started dating.  She and I went to Estes Park or Boulder on our days off – doing the typical touristy kinds of things such as mini golf, buying rubber tomahawks and hippie-watching on Pearl Street.
Reed, Reed's Brother, and Brad Martin hike Flattop Mountain
Through my college friends, I met some rock climbers and started to spend more and more time trail running, hiking and climbing.  If Colorado hadn’t already roped me in, this was it.  When I started really going to the mountains, it was all over baby!  Any thoughts of growing up or moving on or a career in the flatlands dropped away like a stone kicked from the top of Longs Peak.
Too soon though, summer ended.  Estes Park became a relative ghost town compared to the bustle of summer.  Shelly went home, Baldpate closed, all the cool hangouts in town shut down, and every college-aged person went back to their real life. 
Not me though. 
Young Mackenzie Smith and Innkeeper/Owner Lois Smith, winter 1990
The Smiths had “adopted” me by this time and helped me out by finding me a winter job and some lodging in their summer cottage next door to their home in town.  I practically lived with the Smiths all winter.  Jennifer and Mackenzie had become my newest younger brother and sister and I always managed to show up at their home around dinner time.  Though I loved the time with them, I was also very lonely and that first winter was pretty tough.  Thoughts of summer, climbing, and girls sustained many a long winters day and night.
Eventually it was May and we were shoveling away the last remnants of snow and reopening Baldpate for the season.  I had worked with Lois during the winter to recruit staff and we had a slightly more mature and certainly larger staff coming on board.  Shelly returned.  The staff looked to me for direction at work and at play.  I led hikes, impromptu camp-outs and conducted staff meetings.  I had midnight gab sessions with Lois. I went climbing.  Boy was this cool.  How could I do anything else??
Seven years after that spring day that little Mackenzie had trailed after me as I unpacked my car and moved into the Wild Wing for the first time, I was still returning.  Many things had changed. My sister had come out and worked with me for a season.  My father had spent a summer at the Inn as a handy man.  Mackenzie and Jennifer were grown up with lives of their own.  I had gotten a master’s degree and was now a climbing guide.  Later I would become a teacher.  Through the Baldpate there had been a wonderful girl named Justine in my life.  And a lifelong friendship with a great guy named Greg.  College interns in hotel and restaurant management now assisted Lois in smooth operations.  Baldpate had new land, cabins and Lily Lake was part of Rocky Mountain National Park and hardly any dining room guest ever asked, “Don’t you just have a steak?”
Brad on Longs Peak summit with Greg and Jim, and backpacking the Southwest with Justine
What had not changed was the homecoming feeling from Lois and the Baldpate. So, long after I was no longer officially an employee, I kept returning.  I’d show up after closing time and help unload a rack or two of dishes anticipating a chat with Lois and hoping for some free food and an opportunity to flirt with pretty college girls. 
And I met Reneé.  She was working at Baldpate for a part of a year-off between graduating from college and the real world.  We spent most of the last part of that summer together.  We went climbing.  I showed off.  Somehow I talked her into staying the winter.  Lois might have helped.  Two years later we held our wedding reception at Baldpate! We’ve made a life and a family just down the road from the Inn.  I’d like to think that maybe our kids will one day work at Baldpate too.
Brad and Reneé Martin celebrate their wedding at the Baldpate Inn
Despite all efforts to the contrary, I was growing up.  However, no matter the scope and range of my life journeys, Baldpate has always welcomed me back.  It is an anchor for me, fixed and equalized.  Anytime I walk though the front door, it’s like coming home."
If you want to learn more about Brad's mountainous adventures that living at the Baldpate surely fueled, come watch his Summer Enchanted Evening presentation, Mountaineering for the Regular Guy, on Wednesday, August 8th at 7pm in the Key Room. Brad is certainly a fundamental part of the Baldpate family, and we are lucky he chose to share his story with us! 

Key Room Museum Curator

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Home on the Road

A special package arrived with the Baldpate Inn mail this year from Kurt and Virginia Naville.

They donated what, at first glance, appears to be a humble house key with two translucent red dots on either side of  the bow, or top part of the key.

When you read the Navilles' story though, you realize that this donation was truly heartfelt. The Baldpate is now the keeper of the key to their former residence in Fairview, Texas. They told us:

"We lived there for 21 years, raising our children in this happy home. Four years ago we sold our home and bought a truck and fifth wheel trailer. We are now volunteering our time working at National Wildlife Refuges around the country. This way we live and work in an area of the United States, helping where needed, meeting wonderful people and touring. We are hoping we have found the "Key" to retirement happiness through our adventures. Please add this key to your collection. It was always a very special key to us."
Our collections are now home to the symbol of an earlier, much loved phase of their lives. These  days, the Navilles are continuing with their travels. We can't be happier that they chose to include us on their journey.

If you would like to donate a key to our key room, but are no longer in the Estes Park area, feel free to mail your donation to:

PO Box 700
4900 South Highway 7
Estes Park, CO 80517

It would be our pleasure to transcribe your story onto a tag and include it in our collections. Likewise, if you do visit us and have a key at home you would like to donate, please take a tag home with you. Mail-in donations are truly a treat here at the Baldpate!

We'll be looking for your correspondence!
Key Room Museum Curator
The Baldpate Inn

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Swimming through the Ocean of Keys

No need for a compass; our Key Room is easier to navigate than ever before! We updated our map to improve your chances of finding the key you are looking for, and in conjunction with our updated database, you can easily search a key and find where it is located in the room.

For example, if you were looking for the key to Sam Houston's Law Office from Huntsville, TX, instead of spending hours searching the 3 Texas beams, you can search "Houston" on our database computer. The database will show you that it is located on the bottom shelf of Case 5.  Consult the Wall and Case Map, and finding the Sam Houston key is simpler than getting Texas to join the United States!

Come use the new and improved map, and see what you can find!


Baldpate Inn Key Room Curator

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Key to Knowledge

Chances are, since you're reading this blog, you are an  investigative person who realizes that learning is a perpetual and rewarding part of life. Hopefully, you find this key as inspiring as I do.

One of the more inconspicuous keys hanging in the Missouri section caught my eye because of its background and claim to what it unlocks.

“A key to knowledge am I” 
For many years I unlocked the doors of the public library at Kansas City, MO until they decided to remodel all of my locks and then I was discarded.

Such reads the donation tag written by Edith Humphrey on July 28, 1937.  At the time, the Kansas City Public Library existed at 9th and Locust streets and served as an integral institution in establishing the city as the thriving municipality that it is today. 

Since 1898, the key provided access to a wealth of information for the benefit of the public, regardless of socioeconomic status. In 1901, William Rockhill Nelson donated a collection of pictures to the library. This collection became the foundation for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which was established in the 1930s. The library continued to expand throughout first half of the century; when the library outgrew its building in the 1960s, the architects remained loyal to the mission of keeping the Kansas City Public Library devoted to connecting its patrons to the modern era. A new "space age" building was built to house the community's literature and notify the public that knowledge was a commodity that every contemporary member of Kansas City society should attempt to attain.

The key's symbolic ability to unlock humanity's collective understanding through the writings of others will forever remain one of the more valuable donations to the Baldpate Key Room.

If you get the chance to stop by the Baldpate, ask to see the Kansas City Public Library key. We would be happy to point you toward the key to knowledge, humbly hanging from our rafters.

Until next time,

Baldpate Inn Key Room Curator

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Key to a Summer Enchanted Evening

Have you ever wondered how the Baldpate Inn got its somewhat unglamorous name? Ever been curious why and how we ended up collecting over 30,000 keys? The time is approaching to wonder no longer!

Your Key Room Museum Staff, Sara and Lauren
I am proud to announce that on Wednesday, August 22nd and Wednesday, September 5th, the Key Room will be hosting a Summer Enchanted Evening. Sara, the Museum Manager, and I will be conducting a presentation which focuses on the history of the Baldpate Inn and some of the fascinating keys we have in our collection. Mark your calendar to come learn more about the history the Baldpate can unlock!

Our Summer Enchanted Evenings are free to all, and take place every Wednesday night through September 12th. If you would like to make a dinner reservation before the lecture, please call us at 970.586.KEYS. Be sure to check what we will be serving that day with our Baldpate Inn Blog.

Hope to see you at our presentation next month!


Baldpate Inn Key Room Curator

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Share Your Story Series

Today we are beginning our new series, Share Your Story. The Baldpate not only houses the rich history of the keys we have collected, but also has accumulated its own spectacular history over its 96 years of operation! This year, we have been asking our past employees to tell the rest of the Baldpate family some of their favorite memories from the summers they spent here. 

Today's special guest is Megan Aldridge

Megan found the key she donated in our key room and shared this story with us:

"First the key I left is a key from my Grandmother's Bed and Breakfast in Warrensburg, Missouri. It is a house that was built in the 1900s and has been in our family for as long as I can remember. It meant a lot to leave a key to my favorite place that would remind me of my greatest summer ever."
Megan said that her run-in with a black bear was one of the memories she would remember for years to come:
"I was by the wine rack against the wall at the first table when my friend Jessica came in the room and turned sheet white and said, 'Don't move, I have to get my camera.' While she was gone, Gabe came in and said, 'Don't move, you have a bear right by you and the window is open.' I asked him to move the table and I ran away while Jessica took pictures. Clearly she was worried for me!"

Thankfully, Megan's close encounter was a safe one! This year at the Baldpate, we've had two bear sightings, and although the staff considers it a special treat, we also hope to keep the bears at a safe distance. 

Feel free to Share Your Story with the Baldpate family! Email us at Keys@Baldpateinn.com and we will include you in the series.

Until next time,
Baldpate Inn Key Room Curator

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

America and... Dracula!

Happy 4th of July from the Baldpate Inn Key Room!

Today we had a very special event: the unveiling of an extraordinary key by our first returning international staff member, Claudia Leonte. Claudia just arrived from Romania for her second season at the Baldpate. After spending a year here, she asked for the key to Dracula's castle so she could donate it to our key room.

Claudia emailed the managers of Bran Castle to ask if they had any keys they would be willing to donate. In response, they sent the key to a secret passageway leading from the well to the Royal Park. Queen Maria used this route in order pass from the inner courtyard to the outside Royal Park.

The Bran Castle was built in 1377, and is rumored to have been under the brutal rule of Vlad the Impaler, the man who inspired Braum Stoker's Dracula.

Interestingly, between 1836 and 1920, the key was used to unlock the main castle gates. It was only in 1937 that the secret passage was dug and the key was given a new purpose.

Come see this spectacular key in its new American home, the Baldpate Key Room!

Check back next week!

Baldpate Inn Key Room Curator

Friday, June 29, 2012

Finding Key Tags, the Easy Way

Hello from the Baldpate Inn Key Room!

Today we have an important announcement: last week American History Savers paid us a visit to update our Key Room database! Keys are now searchable by keyword, which is the most fitting form of search for our collections.

Stop by to see if you can find a key donated by your family! Simply type your last name into our database search in the Key Room and follow the directions to find your family key.

Come unlock history at the Baldpate Inn!

Your Baldpate Inn Curator,

Friday, June 22, 2012

Welcome to the Baldpate Inn Key Room blog. We are here to enlighten and amuse!

Allow us to introduce ourselves:
Sara, our museum manager, can be found joking with visitors and sharing the most fascinating tidbits from our namesake novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate.

Lauren, the museum curator, is most likely the one asking for your opinion and pointing you towards forgotten keys of the past.

Check back next week for some intriguing Key Room insights!