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?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY EARL AND THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!
“The bluest hills are those farthest away”Behind that Curtain (1928), Chapter 4