Bross Hotel receives historic designation

By Tamie Meck


Bross Hotel receives historic designation | Paonia, history, Bross Hotel

Photo courtesy Linda Lentz A group of dapper gentlemen poses in the front yard of the Bross Hotel in Paonia in 1913.

On Nov. 16, the historic Bross Hotel was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Bross, located at 312 Onarga Avenue in Paonia, was recognized for its architectural and social significance to the community.

The Bross joins 27 other Delta County properties on the register, including Paonia's Bruce Estates, the Curtis Hardware Company building at 228 Grand Avenue, First National Bank building (226 Grand Avenue), Mathews House on Mathews Lane, and Paonia First Christian Church. Properties placed on the national register are automatically placed on the Colorado register.

In December 2013, the Board of County Commissioners placed the Bross Hotel Bed and Breakfast on the county Historic Landmark Register.

Owner Linda Lentz and her daughter purchased the Paonia hotel from Julie Andrew in 2000, and in 2002 Lentz became the sole owner. Lentz discovered the hotel while searching the Internet for a place to retire in Colorado. "I thought it was just beautiful," recalled Lentz. "Beautiful and charming. This dining room was just to die for."

Coincidentally, Bross was also the maiden name of Lentz's paternal grandmother. Lentz said any relation likely dates back a good 200 years through the families' German heritage.

The hotel's Late Victorian architecture reminds her of Pennsylvania, where her German ancestors settled in the mid-1700s. According to a narrative by the Colorado State Historical Society, defining features include "bay windows, fish-scale shingles in the gables, segmental arch opening windows, stone lintels, and a transom above the front door." When it opened, the two-and-a-half story Bross offered indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, a coal-fired furnace, a large kitchen, and other amenities that were signs of prosperity. "It was a fine place to stay," said Lentz. Laura Bross, wife of W.T. Bross, also ran a "lodging and eating house" next door and was known for her charming hospitality.

The estimated 100,000 bricks for its triple brick construction were made on site using material excavated for the basement.

According to "Bross Hotel: 100 Years -- 1906-2006," written by Lentz, the Bross was designed and built by William Taylor Bross and opened for business in May 1906. An article in a local paper described it as the "Brown Palace of Delta County."

The Bross was a social center of Paonia, where women met for tea, the Rotary Club of Paonia (now the North Fork Rotary Club) and original Paonia Lions Club met, young men signed up for Selective Service, and in 1927 a meeting was held there to discuss the formation of a Chamber of Commerce.

Other owners include Otto Bross, son of William T. (1903-1923); Lura Atkins (1944-1971); George and Grace Edwards (1971-1979); Caleb Ives and Claudia Bach (1979-1990); Randall R. and Elizabeth L. Taft (1990-1994);and Julie A. Andrew (1994-2000). The Bross is currently for sale.

"I think it's an honor to be listed on the register," said Lentz. "I think it's important to the town."

Mrs. Bross'
Chocolate Candy

(from a recipe card written by Bross owner Lura Atkins and on display at the Bross)

4 cubes sugar, 2 tablespn cocoa, 1/2 cup Karo, milk enough to moisten, cook until it makes a soft ball in cold water, remove from fire -- add 1 tablespn butter, let get quite cold then beat - vanilla.

Butter scotch

1 cup sugar; 1 tablespn vinegar, 1/4 cup Karo, 4 tablespn boiling water, 1/4 cup butter. Cook until it candies in cold water. Vanilla. Pour in buttered pan & break.