Need a place to write that mystery? Seven Keys Lodge in Colorado has a history of mystery!

This month we’re celebrating Ohio Author Earl Derr Biggers 137th birthday (August 26, 1884) with a look at Seven Keys Lodge in Estes Park, Colorado. The lodge bears tribute to Biggers, but one surprisingly not related to his fictional Detective Charlie Chan! Rather, built in 1917 it pays homage to Biggers’ first successful mystery novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate (1913.)

New owners Mark and Meredith Powell purchased the place December 4th, 2020, changing its name from Baldpate Inn to Seven Keys Lodge: a new name, but one that still keeps faith with Biggers’ book and its title. Only the third owners of this unique property on the National Register of Historic Places, the Powells are the first owners to live on the property in 104 years!

The lodge itself is a gorgeous step back in time. And besides its famous “Key Room” recognized as the world’s largest key collection (it boasts some 30,000-plus keys from around the world, including: The Pentagon, Westminster Abby, Mozart’s wine cellar, Frankenstein Castle) it offers gorgeous mountain views, great food, hiking trails and quaint sites nearby to visit.

This 2018 video was made prior to the inn changing hands; however, it tells the back story of the newly named Seven Keys Lodge, and Biggers’ novel, beautifully!

With it’s grand reopening summer 2021, the Powells have put their own imprint on the lodge, hosting singer/songwriting and chef inspired weekends, revamping many of the inn’s rooms and turning the “Key Room” into an upscale bar for the public as well as guests:

“We really wanted it to have an Ernest Hemingway/secluded in a lodge kind of feel,” Powell explained. “It’s dripping in history. We’ve got a big stone fireplace, keys hanging from the rafters and elk antlers to hold the spirits. I’m hoping people will say, ‘I’m not going to a bar, I’m going for the experience.’”

By Wendy Rigby, Estate Park Trail-Gazette, May 18, 2020, full article.

In 1917, original owners Gordon and Ethel Mace named their lodge The Baldpate Inn after that first successful mystery novel. The lodge became highly renown, so much so that Biggers actually visited! He gave it his stamp of approval declaring it so much like his imaginary inn that it well deserved the title. It stayed in the Mace family through three generations. Then around 1986 Lois Smith and family took over the lodge for another three-plus decades.

Now the Powells have taken a leap of faith (smack dab in a pandemic) purchasing this gem to carry on its legacy. With its fresh title, a new menu and some appropriate updates the Seven Keys Lodge promises to stay around for another 100 years or so! Quite a compliment to Biggers and his first mystery, wouldn’t you say?

For more info and to make reservations visit their website or facebook page, but hurry! the lodge closes during the cold winter months (it’s winterized as Meredith puts it.)


“The bluest hills are those farthest away”

Behind that Curtain (1928), Chapter 4

10 thoughts on “Need a place to write that mystery? Seven Keys Lodge in Colorado has a history of mystery!

  1. This is so cool. I have never heard of this hotel. We will definitely visit 7 Keys. It is only about 2 hours away. If you ever want to visit….let me know. Thank you for thinking of me! Hopefully before the end of summer we will make the trip….I will let you know and send pics. xoxo

    Gina Amato ________________________________


  2. A thoroughly enjoyable post, Lou! I remember reading about this inn when I was researching EDB’s novel, “Seven Keys to Baldpate.” I think the 4-minute trailer is especially interesting, and I LOVE the looks of the inn. It does so much remind me of Baldpate as Biggers’ described it. If I recall correctly, there were many such inns which sprang up after 1917, all claiming to be THE Baldpate Inn, but, as you say, Biggers gave his stamp of approval to this one. Thanks so much for writing this enjoyable piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed the Seven Keys article: makes me want to go there right now. Any information on how the film treatment compares to the novel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Richard, I know. One could spend a few days in the lodge and key room! I guess how the film compares depends on which film you look at. They tally: 1916, 1917, 1925, 1929, 1935, 1947 on film, with a 1946 TV movie. There were also two TV episodes: The Broadway Television Show (Episode 9,) and The Dupont Show of The Week (Episode 2,) both titled Seven Keys to Baldpate. Finally, Horror kings, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine, teamed up with Dezi Arnes Jr. (as the novelist-writer) in House of the Long Shadows, 1983, based on Biggers’ book, with a follow on in 2012, House of the Long Shadows, revisited. Whew! The one in the Youtube clip, is the 1935 version, featuring Gene Raymond as the novelist-writer in the film. I have not seen any of the earlier films, only House of the Long Shadows (1983,) but I wouldn’t advise anyone to run out and rent or buy it. I think the earlier ones would be much better and stay truer to the novel.


  4. Lou,…one of the first things that came to mind while reading this, was the “Stanley Hotel”. I believe that hotel is also in Estes Park. This is where the movie “The Shining” was filmed.
    And, interestingly enough, where Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrence was also doing some writing.

    The Seven Keys Lodge sounds like an interesting place to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jon, that’s pretty neat. I google mapped and the hotels are 7.7 miles (17 minutes) apart from each other. So history, mystery and horror can be gotten in one trip!


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