Reproduction of lithograph; shows the four-story Teller House Hotel in Central City, Gilpin County, Colorado, with signs: "Teller House" and "Rocky Mountain National Bank." Pedestrians and traffic fill streets. . - Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library
Teller House Hotel in Central City Article used with permission by World Casino Directory, written by Lars Jones
The historic Teller House in Central City was once billed as the most opulent hotel west of Chicago and east of San Francisco, some have even said it was the finest hotel west of the Mississippi river. One thing is sure, Henry Teller spared no expense in building and decorating this historic landmark for it's 1872 grand opening.
He was a personal friend to captains of industry and presidents, and had the wherewithal to establish an architecture of lasting brick design in a mostly wooden built town. Two great fires swept through Central City and not only did the Teller House survive, but its brick structure stopped the fire from spreading to several other buildings.
The property has been used as a hotel and even a casino. Today the Teller House is used mainly for receptions and recitals by the Central City Opera Company, whose Opera House
is next door to the building. In the summer months the Teller House hosts a restaurant and bar, as well as a boutique. Click here for a video sample of the Central City Opera
Kevin Taylor's Rouge at the Teller House and Face Bar (Face on the Barroom Floor) traditionally open in late June and early July. Rouge is an upscale dinner house that is open on nights with evening opera performances. The 2011 menu featured such delectables as coffee crusted Colorado lamb loin and sesame crusted ahi. The Face Bar offers more casual fare that still carries the Kevin Taylor touch while taking it a little more easy on your wallet. One comestible on the menu is seared Japanese spiced ahi tuna, jasmine rice, pickled ginger, and wasabi ponzu for under $20. The Face Bar is open for lunch and dinner six days a week (closed Mondays).
One of the most memorable features of the Face Bar is the murals of muses on the walls and the painting of a lady's face on the floor. There are also the wall murals that were discovered under a dozen layers of wallpaper when the Teller House was being prepared for the opera festival's opening in 1932. They were originally painted in the late 1800's by Charles St. George Stanley and were restored (with a few additions of his own) by restoration expert Paschal Quackenbush in the 1930's and again in the 1950's.
Detailed explanations of the muse murals and their humorous 'distortions' (juxtaposed gender anatomy, stubble on a woman's face, etc.) can be had by taking a tour of the building hosted by the Central City Opera company.
Though Central City can be described as anything but a ghost town today, there are stories of hauntings at the Teller House and elsewhere. If you subscribe to such things it is easy to imagine why. Central City was a rough and tumble mining town that once had a population of nearly 60,000 people. Fires, floods, epidemics, and the inescapable harshness of living and working in a mining town in those days created many an untimely death to be sure.
One story is of the face on the floor of the Face Bar. A minor was so forlorn over the loss of his wife to tuberculosis that he fell to the floor in a drunken stupor and began talking to the painting as if it were his wife. People have reported hearing whispered conversations coming from that part of the room when no one else was around. There are also reports of the specter of a blond lady, and shadowy figures in western garb behind the windows of the Teller House at night. If you go there be sure to ask for Billy Hamilton by name if you want to hear a story first hand about one of the Teller House's longest staying residents.
Central City Opera also owns and maintains 28 other historic buildings built before 1900 including 25 residences that are used for housing company operations as well as performers and technicians in the summer. The Teller House
, located next door to the Opera House first opened its doors in 1872 and was known as the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. It now hosts opera activities such as receptions and recitals. The Williams Stables building across the street was purchased by the Company in 1953 and is now an intimate 90 sat venue used for short works, rehearsals and pre-performance discussions.
The 2012 festival runs from June 30 to August 12 and will feature Rogers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Puccini's La Boheme, and The Turn of the Screw by Britten. Year-round events include performances in the Denver metro area and a plethora of low-cost educational and entertaining performances and workshops in Central City