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First Hotel

Park Hotel  ~ A bit of history

The Park Hotel, originally known as the Gardner House when it was built in 1887.  In its heyday, the hotel was the scene of numerous social events.   The following excerpts are from an interview in 1971 with Mrs. W. P. Morley:  "When Mrs. Morley's father, James Gardner, a Civil War veteran, died at old Granada in 1882, her mother (Mrs. Lottie Gardner) started a boarding table.  She then moved to the new town of West Las Animas in 1884 to open a boarding house near where the Texaco service station (now closed and boarded up at the corner of 4th and Bent), promising to set the best table in the west.  Mrs. Morley was four years old when they came here. "
    "Mrs. Gardner soon made good on her promise, setting a table that was especially appealing to ranchers and cowboys of the area.  Her business increased to such an extent that she decided to build a hotel."
     Mrs. Gardner accordingly built the Gardner House in 1887 and until she sold it in 1903, it was one of the social centers in Las Animas.  Before long, residents of the area considered it was the accepted thing to do to have Sunday dinner there."
    "What made the dining room so popular was that Mrs. Gardner added a bit of gentility for the cowtown Las Animas was in those days.  She had white linen table- cloths and napkins and regular customers could even have their own individual napkin rings.  Mrs. Morley remembers 42 persons could be seated for a single serving and her mother charged 75 cents for a dinner."
     "The meal was served family style.  On each table were two cake stands which were loaded with apples, oranges, grapes and raisins.  We never had yet heard of bananas.  The grapes came packed in sawdust.  The raisins were in bunches and each bunch was tied with a red ribbon."
     "There were never any fresh fruits or vegetables out of season.  Nor were there many canned products and frozen foods had not yet been invented.  A housewife or a woman setting a table at a hotel had mostly to depend on what was called dried fruits and vegetables.  But even so, many women, many of them with their own and secret recipes, became famous for their cooking and Mrs. Gardner was one of them."
     "With the dinner being served family style and a person being able to eat all he wanted, it is no wonder that a cattleman and his family would come in from the ranch, along with some of the cowboys, to have dinner at the Gardner House with town families."


A picture of the 90-year-old Park Hotel,  condemned by the state  (believed to be 1976).  The building was purchased by Wm. Walters who planned to salvage the entire structure.  The hotel, originally known as the Gardner House when it was constructed in 1887, was the scene of numerous social events in its prime.  In the process of being torn down when it was destroyed by fire in December 1977.  The only problem the firemen had in extinguishing the blaze was frozen hoses caused by the sub-freezing temperatures.  Picture and article from Bent County Democrat.

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