Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jack Benny's Dressing Room

Good afternoon key lovers!

As part of my last day here at the Baldpate Inn, I will be presenting my Summer Enchanted Evening. My topic is all about the Seven Keys to Baldpate novel written by Earl Derr Biggers and its many adaptations. One of the adaptations I will be talking about today is the Lux Radio Show adaptation starring Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone. As I try to stick with the theme of Seven Keys today, I thought I would mention a special key donation we have here from Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, the key to Jack Benny's dressing room. 

Jack Benny began his performing career after being expelled from high school. He began playing violin in vaudeville shows. He got his big break when he was signed to MGM and shortly appeared on Ed Sullivan's radio show. He was a hit and soon after received his own comedy radio show. Benny became a household name. Benny is credited with creating the modern situational comedy. His show evolved over the years from sketches to the sitcom structure we are familiar with today. After Success in radio, television, and film. Benny died in 1974 at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer. 
Jack Benny’s partner both on screen and behind the scenes was a comedian named Mary Livingstone. They married in 1927 when Mary’s name was still Sadie Marks. It wasn’t until she took the stage that her name changed. It was an accident really. One of the women in one of Benny’s acts fell ill and was unable to perform. Mary, who had seen the show hundreds of times, was asked to fill in. It turns out she had a natural talent and began to collaborate with Benny on most of his productions. She retired due to horrible stage fright that she still suffered from after two decades of performing. She died at the age of 78 in 1983.

Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone a key here to the Baldpate Inn after recording the Lux Radio show. It is located near the entrance of the key room on the left.

I would like to thank each of you for reading our blog this summer. I have had a wonderful time here and have greatly enjoyed meeting you and hearing from you during these past few months. Again, thank you for a lovely summer.

Your Key Room Museum Curator, 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Keys From This Year

Greetings!  Today's post is all about our most recent key donations, coming from this year.  By my count, we've received about 50 different keys as donations this season, which is fantastic to add to our 25,000 (give or take a few) keys!  A few different keys will be highlighted for this post.

- Joseph Casey of Estes Park gave us one of the year's most exotic keys to the Hotel Chur in Chur, Switzerland.  The town of Chur is nestled in a mountain valley along the Rhine River.  Allegedly, it's the oldest town in Switzerland, with archaeological evidence in the area dating back to the Bronze Age and the Roman Empire.  The Hotel Chur prides itself on being close to the train station and the city center.

Chur, Switzerland

- Another key coming from far away was donated by Lynne Chizzick of Boulder, coming from Luang Prabang in Laos.  Luang Prabang dates back to about 600-700 CE, in which it became the seat of an old Laos empire.  According to Laotian creation myths, Luang Prabang and the area factor greatly into the origins of the world.  Much of the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of the history of the area.  The key is from a hotel in the town.

Luang Prabang, Laos

- While I was writing this post, the most recent donation was presented by Richard and Linda Taube of Sherman, Texas.  Their key presented to the museum is only the top of the key, as the bottom half is broken off.  It's the first broken key we've had donated this year, but certainly not the only one in the collection.

- One of our employees, Heather Kegel, donated a key to the Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass Village.  The ranch offers workshops throughout the year in various mediums.  The key is to one of the dorm rooms at the ranch.

Do you have a key to add to this assortment of this year's batch?  Bring one to us when you visit, or mail it to us!  A key is one of the best things to receive in the mail (certainly better than getting bills!), so send one on over.  Thanks to all of our donors so far this year!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hotel Keys - The Zumbro Hotel

Greetings!  Today's key takes us back to another hotel no longer in existence, while also taking me back into my past.  This key comes from the Zumbro Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, which happens to be my hometown.

When the Zumbro was built in 1912, it was a necessity for a rapidly growing town.  Rochester's history is tied directly to the Mayo Clinic, the world-class hospital that calls Rochester home.  William Worrall Mayo, who served as a surgeon during the Civil War, ended up starting Saint Mary's Hospital in 1883 as a response to a devastating tornado that decimated the city.  As his sons William and Charles graduated medical school, they joined him back home.  From there, the Mayo family expanded the hospital into a group practice, collaborating with other notable doctors of the time to found the Mayo Clinic.  It innovated at the time by having many of the region's best doctors, attracting large amounts of patients and helping advance medicine.

Charles, William Worrall, and William James Mayo

Of course, with an increasing number of visitors to the hospital, the demand for lodging in the town increased.  The Zumbro was built in 1912 to capitalize on that demand.  Founded by local hotel magnate John Kahler, the Zumbro took advantage of a centralized location downtown near the clinic to attract guests.  The hotel bragged about other amenities, including "most rooms with private baths" and special rates at a nearby golf course.  The original hotel started with 125 rooms, and was expanded only 4 years later to keep up with demand.  The construction of the clinic's Plummer Building in 1927 saw the Zumbro construct a subway to connect the two buildings - a necessity during the cold Minnesota winters!

Postcard of the Zumbro Hotel

Eventually, with Kahler's hotel empire continuing to expand in the city, the Zumbro began to be known as the Kahler Zumbro Hotel.  Kahler's name, because of the city's Kahler Grand Hotel, was becoming more well-known, so attaching his name to the Zumbro was an attempt to keep it relevant.  Unfortunately for the Zumbro, the changing times became the hotel's downfall.  The Kahler Corporation decided to tear it down in 1987 to replace it with a new hotel.

The Zumbro (top), with the Plummer Building (middle), and the current location (bottom)

Today's downtown Rochester has no shortage of hotels and hospital buildings - its skyline has many exceptionally large buildings for a city of about 100,000.  The Zumbro's significance lives on in the other hotels and medical buildings in the area, representing the continued cooperation between the Mayo Clinic and their 1.3 million annual patients.

Downtown Rochester as seen from my most recent trip to the city

As with the other keys in our blog, the Zumbro room key can be seen by visiting us here in the key museum!


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The University of Michigan

As the season begins to wind down, many of our staff members have begun leaving the Baldpate Inn to return to school. I, fortunately, get to stay a few weeks longer, but the recent goodbyes have got me thinking about the upcoming semester. We have an area here in the key room containing keys to many distinguished colleges and universities including Columbia University in new York and the University of Chicago. Simply because I love my home in Michigan, I've chosen today to talk about the key we have here from the University of Michigan.

The University of Michigania was established in Detroit, Michigan on August 26, 1817 and moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 under the new name, University of Michigan. Classes began in 1841 with the first graduating class of eleven men receiving their diplomas in 1845. Since then, the University of Michigan has grown into a large and respected American University. They are known for their history of student activism and for being the first American University to use the seminar method of study. It is also where President John F. Kennedy proposed the concept that became the Peace Corps and where President Lyndon B. Johnson outlined his Great Society program in a speech.

The key we have here in the Key Room opened the original Law Building of the University of Michigan which opened in 1863 and is still standing today. The building underwent renovations in 1893 and 1898. The old Law Building housed the Law School and tits library until 1933. The governing body of the University also met in this building until 1933. At that time, the building was renamed Haven Hall after Erastus O. Haven, a former president of the University, and began housing the History, Sociology and Journalism Departments. Today, Haven Hall houses the University's African American Music Collection, American Culture Program, Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, Political Science Department, Lemuel Johnson Library, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and their Services for Students with Disabilities.

This key unlocked a door that countless professors and students passed through. This key represents knowledge, potential, and hard work of those individuals and the illustrious history of the University of Michigan. It was donated to the Baldpate Inn in December of 1934 by John C. Christensen, the former Assistant Secretary and Comptroller of U of M.

As the weather gets cooler and back to school sales start up, don't forget to visit the Baldpate Inn just once more for some incredible pie and a tour around the Key Room.

Until next time!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Key to Adolf Hitler's Home

Good morning key lovers!

  Hunter here, and unfortunately today will be my last day posting to the Key Room Blog, as I head back to school in Arizona in a couple of days.  Since this is my last post, I have decided to focus on a key that is easily one of the most famous in our key museum, as well as one that has interested me all summer- the key to Adolf Hitler's home at Berghtesgaden (Berghof).

   Berghof was one of Hitler's primary headquarters during World War II.  Other than the Wolfsschanze, which can be translated to "Wolf's Lair," Hitler spent more time in Berghof than any other of his shelters during the war.  Berghof was also one of his more widely known headquarters during the war.  Berghof was purchased with the money that Hitler had profited from his famous book, the political manifesto Mein Kampf.  The home was maintained like a vacation resort hotel, as Hitler hired many gardners, cooks, housekeepers, and other domestic workers.  He is quoted as saying in the Home and Gardens magazine, "This place is mine...I built it with money that I earned."

  Hitler decorated Berghof with a jade green color scheme in order have a "light and airy" vibe throughout the home.  Hitler's longtime companion Eva Braun also lived at Berghof, as she had two bedrooms, each with their own bathrooms and interconnecting doors.  Berghof soon became a German tourist attraction, as civilians would wait at the end of the driveway in hopes of catching a glimpse of Hitler.  This caused Hitler to enhance security on the property and place severe restrictions on the private property.  Hitler also compelled neighbors to sell their homes so that he could expand his own property.  Guests such as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the Aga Khan, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were greeted personally by Hitler and invited into his infamous home.

  In late April of 1945,  Berghof was damaged by British aerial bombs, and then set on fire by retreating SS troops about a month later.  It was then looted when Allied troops reached the area.  The Bavarian government then destroyed the burnt home in 1952.  Much fear surrounded the ruins, as many feared that it would become a shrine and worship place for Neo Nazis.  Today, trees have overgrown the site and some scattered rubble is all that remains.

  Well key lovers, I have had such a fun time writing for you all and exploring the key museum that I have been lucky enough to work at this summer.  I leave with a tremendous amount of respect for the Baldpate Inn, and knowledge that I will take with me for years to come.  As summer begins to come to an end, make sure to find some time to head down to Baldpate and pay a visit, and possibly enjoy some pie and drink as well!

  Signing off for good,


Friday, August 5, 2016

Rail Keys - The Key to the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company

Greetings!  Today's key takes us back to a railroad with a long history and a continued presence into today.  The key was donated by E. D. Mays, the executive general agent of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company's freight division, in 1954.  Attached was a letter with a brief history of the line.

Our key of the day, complete with a letter

"Remembering my promise made to you during our stay at Baldpate Inn during last Summer, I am forwarding to you a key which I hope you will add to your wonderful collection of keys.  The key I am sending is taken from one of the first passenger train coaches that operated into South Florida and, although it is old, it represents a passenger service that is still operating.  This key admitted many of the pioneer citizens of Florida to the Seaboard passenger trains and I hope this key may serve you sometime in using some of our passenger service into this part of Florida.  The Seaboard has gone a long way in developing its passenger service since this key was active, and we now have the "Silver Fleet" operating into Florida and the South, as the SILVER METEOR, SILVER STAR, and SILVER COMET.  The key I am sending you will also admit you to these trains."

The Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company's history essentially started back in the 1830s, when the line operated as a series of smaller Southeastern railroads.  The name changed around quite a bit, until the 1850s, when the "Air Line" part of the name came into play.  This idea of calling a railroad an "Air Line" is puzzling to think of now, in a time period when an airline refers to airplanes.  However, back when the term Air Line was used for railroads, it was more of a marketing slogan.  Air Line was used as a phrase to refer to the shortest distance between two places.  A railroad claiming to be an Air Line railroad was a railroad that advertised short distances and quick trips.  The confusion with airplanes didn't come around in the early days, since airplanes weren't even invented then, but later on, that became an issue.  One story says that the Seaboard's stock went up shortly following Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight, only for it to return to normal as investors realized that it was only a railway.
An old advertisement demonstrating the "Air Line" principle

The trains mentioned as part of the Silver Fleet still have some continuation.  The three lines were long distance, hauling passengers in comfort and style from southern cities like Atlanta and Tampa up to New York.  Starting in 1939, these streamliners were some of the earliest ones along the East Coast, prompting some good years for the railroad.  Only the Silver Meteor and Silver Star remain in operation today,  run by Amtrak.

Much like many of the other rail services in the country, a decline in passenger rail travel combined with less demand for rail freight led to the downfall of the Seaboard.  Several mergers in the late 1960s and early 1970s left the Seaboard as part of the past.  The passenger services was transferred to Amtrak in 1971, while the freight service was eventually absorbed by CSX.

The Seaboard's logo

With the Seaboard Railroad no longer in existence, the key to the passenger trains may no longer be able to admit us to the trip, as Mr. Mays suggested in his letter.  However, two of the rail lines can still be taken, if you're in the area.  And of course, the key from the Seaboard Air Line can be seen, along with countless others, here at the museum.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Keys to a Grand Piano

Good afternoon!

Here in the Key Room, we have keys of all types. We have keys to houses, cars, office buildings, desks, lockets, and hearts. We even have keys to musical instruments.

The invention of the modern piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori of Italy who was the Keeper of instruments for the Medici Family. It is not known when Cristofori first built a piano, but it is know that existed by the year 1700. Three Cristofori pianos survive today and date from the 1720s. Cristofori's greatest challenge was to discover, with no previous example, how to strike the strings with a hammer, yet not remain in contact, and return to its resting position calmly and quickly so that it may be played again almost immediately.

Grand pianos have horizontal strings and frames, extending away from the keyboard. Longer pianos with longer strings have a richer sound, which is why grand pianos are considered the highest quality. Pianos are used in virtually every music genre from classical to pop music. It has become one of the world's most recognizable and popular instruments.

When entering the key room, immediately to the left, sits a number of grand piano keys, seven to be exact. These grand piano keys were donated by Ray Hamilton and are accompanied by a tag which states: "Seven keys to one of the first grand pianos to arrive in Denver via covered wagon from the East."

Until next time!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Key to Family History

Good afternoon Key Lovers!

Today I want to look a a very special key. It did not belong to a famous musician, or unlock a secret passage. It is not a key to a city the White House. This key is not hung on our walls or kept behind glass. This key hangs on the ceiling, with all of the other keys donated by people who have stayed at the Baldpate Inn over the years. It belongs to a regular family who enjoys visiting Estes Park.

This key is actually a bright yellow bubble wand in the shape of a key. It was originally donated July 9th 2002 by Jolene Andolsek. It is labeled as the key to Teamwork at North Colorado Medical Center. Since then, this family has visited the Baldpate Inn Key Room twelve times. Sometimes when they visit, they leave a new tag with a note explaining what is happening in their lives. The earliest date (other than the donation date) is May 31st, 2008. Next to that date it states "Our 6th yearly visit. Laura just got braces. She was 16 on the 27th." On May 29th, 2009, they wrote, "Our 7th yearly visit. Laura gets wisdom teeth pulled on June 2. Laura is now 17." On May 28, 2010: "Our 8th year. Laura graduated May 21. Laura 18th Birthday. She starts at UNC in the fall. I am so proud of you. -Mom" May 27, 2011: "Laura 19th BD. 9th year. Mom passed away March 24 5:07pm at NCMC. Laura will be a sophomore at UNC. She likes Jeff Huffman." October 1, 2011 simply says, "With Jean." May 27th, 2012: "Laura is 20 today. She is dating Jeff. I have lost 62lbs. since Nov." May 27, 2013: "Laura 21 today. Where has time gone. Lost 96lbs. NCMC optimization. Laura dating Jeff." May 27, 2013; "Laura engaged to Jeff. Laura to teach first grade at Penrose. Move to Pueblo with Jeff." The last entry, dated Jun 5, 2016 states: "Laura in North Glenn. Stopped working Oct 24, 2015. Love retirement. With Laura and Harmin. Amazing year and many changes for us." On a separate tag, one that Laura left when she came without her mother, she wrote "Hi Mom! I'll see you in 2013. Love you! -Laura"

Many times we look at keys that have significance to state history or national history or unlock significant building. It is just as important to remember our own history. I'm thrilled to know that families have used our key collection as a way to track their own history and I cannot wait to see what else they will write.

Until next time,


Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Key to the First Bank Robbed by Jesse and Frank James

Good Afternoon key lovers!

  It is yet another beautiful day here up in the Rocky Mountains, and as my time at the Baldpate is down to only two weeks I am filled with a mixture of emotions.  I am excited to go back to school and continue my classes, but also sad to leave behind all the experiences and people that the Baldpate has brought into my life.  With my time coming to a close it also means that my Summer Enchanted Evening presentation is coming up next week!  In honor of this event, I will be focusing on yet another key with Wild West origin- the key to the first bank robbed by Jesse and Frank James.

  The robbing of the Old Southern Bank of Kentucky in Russellville has a lot of controversy surrounding it, as some historians contend that Jesse James was not present at the robbery, and was instead recovering from a gunshot wound elsewhere. These historians say that it was Frank James and the rest of the James Gang that robbed the bank on March 28, 1868.  The gang made off with a $17,000 haul, which is already a lot of money but was worth even more back in those years.  The robbery was only the third daylight bank heist in U.S history, as well as the first for the James Gang.  This robbery put what became the James-Younger gang on the map of dangerous criminals.

  The main vault, which had three chambers and four doors, was home to over two-millions dollars in gold at the time of the James Gang robbery, yet the robbers were unable to make off with that load.  They made off with the cash that was being stored in the building's second vault, which located in what was then the President of the bank's office, who's name was Nimrod Long.  This vault was known as the day vault since it was open during the daylight hours.  Two bullet holes still remain to this day, as Long refused to cash a questionable bond brought in from the gang, and therefore was shot and wounded.

  It was after this robbery that the James-Younger Gang made their presence known, and they went on to rob countless banks in the United States for many years.  The bank is now not a functioning bank, and instead is a home with a kitchen, six bedrooms, twelve fireplaces, and two mahogany staircases.  It was converted for residential use in the 1980s.

  I personally find the Wild West extremely interesting, and I hope you guys as the readers are enjoying reading my series of Wild West keys just as much as I am enjoying writing them!

  Til Next Time,

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Key to Sudden Death

Good afternoon everybody!

Today I would like to look at a key titled "Key to Sudden Death." In reality, this key isn't really a key at all, but part of  a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake carcass. With all the wildlife sightings in the area recently, it only seemed fitting.

The Western Diamond Rattlesnake, commonly known as the Texas Diamondback Rattlesnake lives in Texas and Mexico. It is the most common venomous snake in the area. This snake is a dusty brown color with darker brown diamond pattern down its back and white rings near the end of the tail. Western Diamond Rattlesnakes are pit vipers. This means that they can sense differences in temperature from the animals around them, making hunting incredibly easy. This snake is a generalist, which means that they are not very picky about where they live. As long as it's warm, they'll stay. These snakes hibernate during the winter and mate during the fall. They oftentimes give birth to about twelve children after a seven month gestation period. The young only stay with their mother one hour after birth and are fully capable of delivering a fully venomous bite the moment they are born.

The venom that the Western Diamond Rattlesnake produces destroys tissues and disables their prey. The venom also contains cytotoxins and myotoxins that destroys cells and stops cardiovascular function. General local effects include pain, heavy internal bleeding, severe bleeding, muscle damage, blistering and necrosis. The venom also causes hemorrhagins, dizziness, and convulsions. Although the snake only needs to bite its prey once in order to kill it, it is usually not enough to kill a human. Mortality rate of untreated bites from this snake is between 10-20%

This key was donated to the Key Room by Lillian and Fred Proctor.

Until next time!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hotel Keys - Tokyo's Imperial Hotel

Greetings!  Today's key is going to transport us across the Pacific Ocean to the country of Japan, where we visit the famed Imperial Hotel of Tokyo.  This hotel, currently boasting more than 700 rooms, has an especially interesting history that we'll dive right into.

The Imperial Hotel's history dates back to its opening in 1890.  At the time, Japanese leaders and other important figures thought that opening such a hotel would be a necessity for Japan.  The objective was for it to be targeted at foreign visitors.  The initial hotel building was designed in a neo-Renaissance style, looking like it would fit in more with a European city than a turn-of-the-century Japanese one.  After a slow start, business at the hotel gradually picked up until the hotel became more of a Japanese institution.

The original 1890 Imperial Hotel

The original 1890 hotel ended up burning down in 1922.  Fortunately, the hotel was in the midst of some big plans, and, as a result, the fire wasn't the end of the hotel.  A decade before the fire, Frank Lloyd Wright, the famed American architect, was contracted to design a new hotel.  His design was based on a Mayan Revival style of architecture, with the main facility resembling a pyramid.  Wright's building endured a barrage of physical abuse over its lifetime, starting fairly early with the massive 1923 earthquake.  While Wright was informed there was no damage, some minor parts of the building sustained some amounts of damage.  During World War II, the incendiary bombing of Tokyo by the Allies decimated the hotel's south wing and completely annihilated the beloved Peacock Room.  When Wright was asked to return to the hotel to oversee repairs, he refused, presumably due to the fact that Japan and the US were still at war at that point.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel, as seen on a postcard

During the American occupation of Japan, the Japanese owners were forced to give up the property.  It was not returned until 1952, when the decaying hotel began the repair process.  A few more annexes were added to the building so that the hotel could accommodate more visitors.  But then, in 1967, with the building aging poorly, the decision was made to demolish it and start over again.  Despite Wright's structure being a classic, the repairs needed on the building made a new one more practical.  Additionally, Wright had the idea of a "floating foundation", essentially set on mud, which would help protect against earthquakes.  While it did help in that regard, it also made parts of the building sink over 3 feet.  The newer hotel would be on a much more solid foundation, and hopefully as safe against earthquakes.

The remains of the Wright structure, as it appears today

The current version of the Imperial Hotel was completed in 1970, and is considered to be one of Tokyo's top hotels.  The Japanese were diligent in modeling their hotel after American hotels and practices, in their consistent attempt to appeal to foreign visitors.  Despite the fact that today's hotel isn't nearly as architecturally interesting as Wright's version, it remains a popular destination.  And fortunately, for those who want to see a glimpse of the older hotel, the lobby and part of the Wright hotel have been reassembled at the Museum Meiji-Mura in Nagoya.  The museum is a large architectural park which celebrates early 1900s Meiji-style architecture.

The modern Imperial Hotel

As always, be sure to check out the key to the Imperial Hotel of Tokyo, as well as countless other keys, in the key room!


Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Key to the First United Airlines "Mainliner"

Good morning key lovers!

  I hope all of you have had an exceptional morning and start to your day, as the weather continues to get hotter and drier up here in the Rocky Mountains.  Today I have decided to focus on a key that's unique story captured my attention right away- the key to the First United Air Lines "Mainliner."

  United Airlines Flight 629, registration N37559, also known as "Mainliner Denver," was blown up by a dynamite bomb placed in a bag of checked luggage on November 1, 1955.  The plane explosion occurred over Longmont, Colorado when the plane was flying from Denver, Colorado to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  All 5 crew members and 39 passengers were killed in the explosion.

  After a lengthy and tedious investigation, investigators determined that a man named Jack Gilbert Graham was responsible for the explosion as a revenge plot on his mother for a claimed "troubled" childhood, and to obtain a large life insurance payout.  Graham, who already had an extensive criminal record, was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime within 15 months of the explosion.

  At the time of the explosion, there was actually no federal statute that made it a crime to blow up an aircraft.  Therefore, in order to convict Graham of his crime that tried him on the ground of premeditated murder against one victim, which was his mother Mrs. King.  Despite the multiple deaths, he was only executed on the murder of his mother, and it was the first trial to be televised in Colorado.

  Following the bombing and execution, a bill was introduced and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 that made the intentional bombing of an aircraft illegal.  Graham is believed to have been inspired by a similar crime committed by Albert Guay, in which he bombed an airplane with the intention of killing his wife.

  I know I have chosen some dark stories to focus on lately, but sometimes the darkest moments in our nation's history are the most interesting. But do come on down and find some keys that you may find especially interesting to yourself when you visit our key room!

  Til Next Time,

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Francis Scott Key Key

Today I want to talk about a Key that is very important both in this museum and in our nation's history.

Francis Scott Key was born august 1, 1779 in Maryland. He became a successful lawyer and was later appointed to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

In the year 1812 the United States of America declared war on Great Britain due to a number of trade agreements. The British set fire to the White House, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol Building before setting their sights on Baltimore. In 1814, Key had gone to a ship off the coast of Baltimore to negotiate the release of his friend. He succeeded but was not allowed to leave the ship until the bombing of the Fort McHenry was over. He watched the whole thing from eight miles away. After a day of bombing, the British gave up. When the dust settled, Key saw the American flag still flying from the fort. He was so moved by the experience that he wrote a poem in tribute. The poem was printed in newspapers and eventually set to music. It was adopted as the national anthem March 3rd, 1931.

The flag that Francis Scott Key saw that night was made in 1813 by Mary Young Pickersgill in a building now known as the Baltimore Flag House. In 1936 when that house was being renovated, some of the original wood was carved into a wooden key with pictures of Francis Scott Key and the flag house on the front and the story of the house on the back. We acquired the key from Dudley P. Bowe, the president of the Star Spangled Banner Flag House Association in 1947.

The Francis Scott Key key is located in cabinet #7 in the Key Room. Make sure you take a look when you visit!

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Tom Horn Execution Case!

Good morning key lovers!

  Today I decided to switch things up a little bit and focus on one of the other various artifacts found in our key museum that is not a key- a piece of rope that Tom Horn was hung with after being convicted of the murder of 14 year-old Willie Nickell.

  Tom Horn was an American Old West scout who carried out various jobs as a gunman, cowboy, soldier, detective, and Pinkerton.  He is believed to have committed about 17 murders during his time as a scout, and was finally executed after being accused with the murder of Willie Nickell in 1902.  Willie Nickell lived in Iron Mountain, Wyoming, and was the son of Kels Nickell, a sheep rancher. Kels Nickell had been involved in a feud with his neighbor Jim Miller, who was a cattle rancher.  Horn visisted Jim Miller and his family, and learned of the feud with the Nickell family.  On July 18, 1901, young Willie Nickell was found murdered near the family's homestead gate.

  Following his son's death, Kels Nickell was shot and wounded wile 60-80 of his sheep were clubbed to death.  Other various violent attacks occurred against the Nickell family, prolonging the murder investigation.  Tom was later questioned about the murder by Deputy Marshal Joe Lefors, After gathering what was perceived to be ample evidence, Horn was arrested for the murder of the young boy.  After receiving a guilty verdict by the jury, Horn was sentenced to be executed by hanging.

  Tom Horn was one of the few people in the Wild West to be hanged by the Julian Gallows, which were water-powered gallows where the trapdoor was connected to a lever which pulled the plug out of a barrel of water.  This then caused the lever with a counterweight to rise, pulling the support beam under the gallows.  Horn was buried in Boulder, CO in the Columbia Cemetery.  There is still debate to this day if Horn was wrongly accused of the murder, as many believed that he did not commit the act.  The picture above is Tom Horn holding his execution rope as he awaits his hanging.

  On a lighter note, I hope you all enjoy this beautiful summer day, and if you happen to be in visiting Estes Park, come pay us a visit here at the Baldpate!

  Signing off,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Key to the Curtain

Good Afternoon Key Lovers!

Today we are presenting the play adaptation of Seven Keys to Baldpate at our Key-thedral. In the spirit of theatre, I thought we could look into the theatrical past of Colorado.

Any native to Colorado has visited Elitch Gardens in Denver for a day of roller coasters and cotton candy, but did you know that before Six Flags bought Elitch Gardens, it was a theatre? In the early 1900s Elitch Gardens was famous for its plays, zoological park, and cultural center. The theatre became internationally known for performing ten plays during the ten-week season and attracting stars of both the stage and screen. The theatre hosted talent such as Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Vincent Price, Grace Kelly and Kitty Carlisle. Cecil B DeMille used to send yearly telegraphs wishing the company good luck for the season.

New members of the Elitch Garden Players had to go through initiation each summer. They were told that to open they had to find the key to the curtain. As many of you may know, curtains don't need keys. There was no actual key to the curtain, it was a wild goose chase. The props-master in 1929 created a real "Key to the Curtain," however, instead of letting the new members find it, they donated it to the Baldpate Inn. The key has the mask of comedy on the top to represent the trick that was played on newcomers while the bottom of the key is fashioned to look like a giant E which stands for Elitch Gardens. 

We hope to see you soon in the audience of our own reenactment of Seven Keys to Baldpate today at seven or tomorrow at three.

Until next time!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Key to the Queen Mary

Good morning key lovers!

   It is yet another gorgeous morning day here at the Baldpate, and as I was perusing our amazing key collection I came across a key that I thought would be very interesting for the daily blog post today. It is the key to the infamous Queen Mary ship!  This key was donated to us by manager at the Chicago Office for Cunard White Star in June of 1936, and proves to be especially rich in history.

  The Queen Mary was an ocean liner that sailed on the North Atlantic from the years 1936-1967.  Along with the Queen Elizabeth, these ships were built as a part of Cunard's plan for a two-ship weekly express that would run between South Hampton, Cherbourg and New York City.  The Queen Mary first set sail on the 27th of May in 1936, earning the the Blue Riband accolade in August of that same year. When World War II broke out, the Queen Mary was converted into a trooper ship that ferried allied soldiers for the duration of the war.

  After the war, the Queen Mary, along with the Queen Elizabeth, continued to dominate transatlantic passenger travel until the jet age emerged in the 1950s.  The ship was officially retired from service in 1967, leaving South Hampton and arriving in Long Beach, California, which remains the ship's home to this day.  The Queen Mary now serves as a tourist attraction, featuring a museum, restaurants, and a hotel. It also is rumored to be haunted, being ranked by Time magazine as one of the top ten most haunted places in the USA.  This is mainly due to the fact that 49 known crew passengers were known to have died on the ship during the ship's service as a luxury liner.

  That's all I have for you guys for now, but come on down and enjoy a walk around our key museum and a nice bite to eat on this hot summer day!

  Til Next Time,

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July from all of us here in the Key Room! We are all dressed up in our reds, whites, and blues and we're excited to watch the fireworks this evening. In keeping with the American theme, I've decided to talk about one of our keys that has special significance to American history.

In 1936 we received a key to the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. from David Lynn, the Capitol architect from 1923 to 1954. Construction of the Capitol began in 1793 after George Washington laid the cornerstone on the southeast portion of the foundation. After the ceremony, all those present celebrated the American way, with a barbeque.

The capitol is much more than a building that houses the legislative branch of the American government, it is a symbol of the American people and their government. Through the years, the Capitol has been expanded as the United States expanded westward. As the Capitol changed shape and size, the large dome on top became an international icon representing democracy, even finding itself on the back of the 50 dollar bill.

The Capitol Building is an important monument that represents more than the US government. It represents American Ideals. Since the Capitol Building hosted the US Congress for the first time in the year 1800, American government has changed substantially. Definitions of important words have changed as new laws replace the old. However, there are a few things that will always remain: the pride Americans have in their ideals, and our love of barbeques.

Have fun today and stay safe!

Until next time,

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Ding Dong - Wedding Bells are Ringing

It is wedding day here at The Baldpate Inn and therefore it is only appropriate to highlight keys in wedding tradition.

People love excuses for gift giving (and receiving) and weddings are no exception to this rule. Engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, all open the door for gift giving.

But how did this practice start?

Before Macy's created the gift registry in the 1920s, guests weren't expected to bring anything for the happy couple. Wedding gifts originated from bride prices and dowries that were paid to the bride's family. The first recorded dowry exchange was in 3,000 BC. Dowries usually included land, live stock, money and other forms of wealth and status.

During the Renaissance, young women would prepare marriage chests to hold her "wife goods" to then take to her groom's home.

In the mid 1800s brides, particularly in the Southern parts of the United States, were gifted a leather key basket symbolic of her new role as mistress of the house and "key keeper." In her new home, it would be filled with keys to doors, rooms, cupboards, chests and barns.

Moving into modern day, the practice of gift giving continues to evolve. In the current era of gift giving, guests are more apt to go off registry to get something more personal, or skip the presents altogether and just gift money. Due to increasing numbers of couples living together before marriage, kitchen appliances, linens, and flatwear aren't as popular gifts. 


Wedding keys are on the rise. When searching for information on key baskets I found countless Pintrest pages suggesting ways to incorporate keys into your wedding day. 

Perhaps that is where couple Alex and Sarah Morabito of Littleton, CO got the idea for the "Key to Our Wedding" donated in 2008.

Best wishes to today's bride and groom on a long and happy marriage!

Signing off,

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Key to the Seven Falls

Good afternoon key lovers!

  This weekend is an eventful one here at the Baldpate Inn, as we are preparing for our first wedding of the season!  Weddings always bring a burst of excitement, and the inn is decked out in all kinds of beautiful decorations and shades of white.  In spirit of the beauty and love surrounding us here these next couple days, I have decided to focus on the key to Seven Falls in South Cheyenne Creek.

  Seven Falls, located in the South Cheyenne Canyon in Colorado Springs, CO, is a series of seven cascading waterfalls that have fascinated tourists for many years.  With the entrance to the canyon being about 4.5 miles southwest of downtown Colorado Springs, the road leading to the canyon has been called "The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado." As one enters the Seven Falls, they are greeted by the Pillars of Hercules, which is a rock formation standing 900 feet above the ground of the canyon.  Right across from the Pillars is the George Washington Profile, another rock formation.

 The falls themselves total to a sum of 181 feet, with there being a total of 224 steps from the base to the peak of the falls.  In alphabetical order, the falls are named Bridal Veil, Feather, Hill, Hull, Ramona, Shorty, and Weimer.  The staircase to the falls was constructed and built by James Hull, who was a naturalist.  The falls suffered a massive flood in September of 2013, and was closed for a period of two years until they were reopened in 2015.  I strongly recommend taking a day and visiting this amazing natural wonder found right here in Colorado!

 That's all I have for you for today folks, but remember that our collection is always open to new additions, so come on down and honor us with your visit, and maybe relax and grab a bite to eat!

  Til Next Time,