A local landmark once referred to as "the only really first-class hotel in the county," the Bross Hotel in Paonia opened for business 110 years ago this May. On May 28, a celebration was held to mark the anniversary and to celebrate its recent inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places by the U. S. Department of the Interior. The Bross is also on the state historical registry and in 2013 was recognized by Delta County as an historic landmark.
The Bross was opened by William T. and Laurah Bross in late May of 1906, although the exact date isn't known because the newspapers never specified, said proprietor Linda Lentz, who became the seventh owner of the building when she and daughter Susan Estes purchased the Bross in 2000. "This was the best hotel in the county," and included two upgrades unique in the county, a coal furnace and running water. "This was the place to bring your guests."
The historical value lies in its architectural and social significance, and specifically in the role it played in the history of the town, said Lentz. Many a social gathering was held at the Bross. Among them, it was a meeting place for the original Rotary and Lions clubs. In 1927 a group of merchants met at the hotel to form the Paonia Chamber of Commerce.
The late Grace and George Edwards, parents and grandparents of Paonia residents Kathy Meador and daughter Lisa Heinritz, purchased the hotel from Lura Atkins in March 1971, and sold it in 1979.
"I spent a lot of summers making beds," said Heinritz. "It was always busy on the Fourth of July."
"Things like this don't happen without a lot of work," said Mayor Charles Stewart of the historical designation. He acknowledged the many people, including Lentz, who have worked to keep it in operation and maintain its historical integrity. "Back in 1906 this was considered the 'Brown Palace of Delta County,'" said Stewart, referring to the famous Denver hotel. "And I think that's probably still the case."