Friday, June 28, 2013

The Curtain Rises

With the opening of Baldpate’s Keythedral Theater 2013 summer series , it seems fitting to feature our “Key to the Curtain”. This unique key was donated in 1929 by Melville Burke, the then head of the Elitch Gardens Players.

The laughing face on the key’s bow represents the comedy face of the Greek theatre masks, and the “E” that is the bit of the key signifies the Elitch Gardens Players.
Although for Coloradans today Elitch Gardens is synonymous with amusement park, when it first opened in Denver in 1890, it was primarily a botanic garden, zoological park, and cultural center. Two years later the Elitch family opened the Elitch Theatre. This summer stock theatre, the oldest in America, entertained audiences for one hundred years. It was renowned for the talent that performed on its stage, including Grace Kelly, Cecil B. DeMille, Lana Turner, Mickey Rooney, and Antoinette “Tony” Perry—the namesake of the “Tony Awards.” Some of these actors you can see in Charles Mace’s photography collection in The Baldpate’s dining room, as well as in the Inn’s guest registers.

Mace's photograph of Lana Turner

Mace's photograph of Mary Elitch
During the time Melville Burke was the troupe’s director in the 1920s, the Players often pranked new actors by asking them to find the “key to the curtain.” Since curtains have no keys, this request was a fool’s errand. That is, until Melville Burke requested the prop department make a key to be added to The Baldpate Inn Key Collection.
Near the end of the twentieth century, the Gardens’ popularity waivered. While the park’s new location in downtown Denver was purchased by Premier Parks, Inc. in 1994 and transformed into today’s Elitch Gardens, the Elitch Theatre was revived by the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation. This non-profit organization’s goal is to renovate the theatre and return it to its former renown. 
Here at The Baldpate Inn, our Keythedral Theater is in no danger of shutting down or being abandoned for an amusement park! This season our theatre will feature productions by Encore! Encore! and The Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies with the stage version of Seven Keys to Baldpate and Marriage is Murder, respectively:

Doors open for Seven Keys performs at 6 p.m. on June 28th and July 5th, as well as at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. June 29th and July 6th.

Marriage is Murder, by Nick Hall, performs August 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, and 18th. Doors open at 6 p.m., as well as at 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays.

Come by to enjoy the Inn’s connection to early Colorado theatre and, most especially, to enjoy our own summer stock performances at our Keythedral Theater.

Key Room Museum Curator


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dracula Lives Again

If you read last season’s blog posts or have been by the Key Room recently, you have probably seen the addition of a replica key from one of Dracula’s castles. Although this key joined our collection almost a year ago, we just received the key’s official documentation from Bran Castle.

          As mentioned in the letter itself and in a previous blog post ( ), Bran Castle was built in the 14th century in Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains. The picturesque fortress is located in an area that was an economic crossroads and suffered many military invasions. Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler or simply Dracula, is thought to have resided here during his reign from 1456-1462. During this time he instilled order throughout the country, though at high costs. His nickname “the Impaler” derived from the way criminals, foreign enemies, and those who spoiled his notion of a perfect society were punished: impalement. This is one way he became connected to Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire (although, another “living vampire” named Countess Elizabeth Bathory inspired Stoker’s count more than Vlad Tepes did). Since then Bran Castle has been called Dracula’s Castle, even though it was modernized and beautified by Queen Marie after World War I. In 1958 it solidified its place in history by becoming a museum that tourist still frequent today.

From 1836 to 1920, the key whose replica we received was used to unlock the main gates to Bran Castle.  In 1937, though, during Queen Marie’s residence, it opened a secret passageway from the inner courtyard to the Royal Park outside, where the queen rode horses every morning. Today, the key rests in the famous Key Room as part of The Baldpate’s key collection. Come by and decide for yourself whether it looks like the key to Dracula’s Castle or Queen Marie’s beautiful Bran Castle!
Key Room Museum Curator


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Key of the Day: The Boilermaker Special 5 Key (BMS 5)

Hello all! This is Cameron, one of the Key Room museum curators at the Baldpate Inn this season, wishing all the proud papas a Happy Father’s Day!

For such a special day I wanted to present a unique key that is special in its own way called the Boilermaker Special Key, or the BMS 5. This artifact comes all the way from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. *Interesting Fact about Purdue University: The school has produced 23 astronauts, which includes Neil Armstrong, the first American to walk on the moon.

For those not familiar with Purdue, their nickname is the Boilermakers, with their mascot being the Boilermaker Special. Resembling a Victorian-era locomotive, though operated as an automobile to be driven on streets, the idea for the mascot was suggested by Purdue Student Israel Selkowitz in 1939 who, along with the school board, thought it best represented the school, especially its engineering and railroad heritage. The first model of the Boilermaker Special was created in 1940 and was operated by a driver with room for a passenger. A few models later the Boilermaker Special Five was created on September 23, 1993. Student members of the Purdue Reamer Club have operated and maintained the BMS models.

This version of the mascot came equipped with nostalgia as it had installed the brass bell from the BMS 1 along with the brass whistle from the BMS 3. Able to hold up to 14 passengers, the BMS 5 was able to “kneel” which provided easier access for young children and the elderly to hop on and enjoy a ride. The BMS 5 was discontinued in 2011 in favor for newer model. We here at the Baldpate Inn are very honored by the Purdue Reamer Club’s donation and proud to showcase this memento in our Key Room along with a letter of authentication which provides a brief history on the BMS 5 for visitors.

Come See!


Friday, June 14, 2013

A Day Spent With Amazing Kids

Today in the key room I met the two most interesting and lovable kids from Michigan, their names were Lauren and Connor. I spent an hour with them in the key museum talking about the featured keys and how fascinated they were by the many keys found in the museum. We completed the scavenger hunt and talked about each key individually. We talked for a long time and their mother took a picture of us. Lauren and Connor were so fascinated with the museum that they didn't want to  finish their lunch or a piece of one of the delicious pies that we make daily. I was so impressed by these two because they were interested in learning and taking the time to talk about what the key musuem was all about. Before they departed I took the time to draw  them a picture where I designed a key and put their names on each.  I had such an amazing time with the two of them and before Lauren left, she gave me a BIG hug and told me Good Luck in school! (Smiling!) What an interesting day and I have to admit being a New Orleans native it's been a great experience so far. I have met so many interesting people from all parts of the United States and a lot from my hometown in New Orleans.