In spring 2016, it’ll be just like 1882. Almost.
By the time renovations are complete at the Grand Imperial Hotel at 1219 Greene St. in Silverton, train passengers and hotel guests will step off the railroad and back in time.
That’s the vision of Al Harper, who not only owns the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, but also just acquired the hotel – both built in 1882.
“The combination of an authentic 1882 train and an authentic 1882 hotel will give our train riders a complete 1880s feel of the West,” Harper said in a news release.
With the $1.6 million acquisition complete, the renovations now will begin. While it won’t hinder the restaurant and saloon operations, the 40 rooms of the hotel will be closed.
“We worked really hard to find ways to keep some of the rooms open, but we couldn’t find a way that would provide our guests a safe and quality experience, while at the same time working on our vision for the Grand Imperial,” Harper said.
According to the release, the remodeling – projected to be finished in spring 2016 – will provide guests with a historically genuine ambiance.
American Heritage Railways will be updating the progress of the project on its website, www.americanheritagerailways.com, with detailed plans and travel packages.
Harper plans for guests to be able to purchase bundled train and hotel tickets, with historically themed meals, entertainment and uniformed staff.
“You can check in, get on the train and be in the 1880s for your whole visit,” he said.
Harper said he’s been searching for new ways to improve the railroad experience. The news release describes the hotel acquisition as an exciting way to preserve history.
His company, American Heritage Railways, also owns the Great Smoky Mountain Railroads and Rail Events Incorporated.