The human memory is fallible, yet there is something poignant to be found in even the most clearly fabricated stories. We all become inextricably connected with the history of the places we come from, taking ownership of a location’s past as if it were our own. When memory comes into play, the line between fact and fiction blurs.
In such a fashion the history of this building, which has come to be known as the Festivarie Inn, changes depending who you ask. Most Lyons locals have a story or two about the building at 349 Main Street; some are even true. If you ask around, folks might tell you it once had an infamous outlaw (Doc Holliday) for a proprietor or that it housed a brothel for a period of time; a handful of people will share ghost stories with you.
Of course, public records, local museums and newspapers, and some good old fashioned sleuthing will tell you that none of these colorful tales are true. But sometimes, you don’t have to fudge the truth to get a good story…
Throughout its lifetime, this historic building was home to a medical practice, a schoolhouse, a personal residence, a boarding house, a hair salon, and of course, many iterations of hotel. At one period in time, it was the only place in town where one could be served a hot meal. Once, it almost became a museum. Its earliest intended use was in the health recovery field.
Doctors often prescribed fresh Rocky Mountain air to tuberculosis patients, believing the dry climate would dry the moisture from their lungs. Dr. W.D. Matthews built the original Mountain View Hotel in 1889, when it functioned as a tuberculosis sanatorium. At that time, a room cost between $1.50 to $2.00 per day.
In 1903, L.J. Pitts purchased the Mountain View Hotel and had the building cut in two. The half-hotel was moved by horse-drawn winch and cable to its present location. There is some discrepancy as to the hotel’s original location—but at least everyone agrees it came from Lyons! The other half of the building was destroyed. During this time, the hotel’s principal use was by railroad employees and quarrymen.
After serving as the home and office of Dr. W.R. Kincaid for a period of time, the building became a hotel once more. Between 1938 and 1972, Mrs. Icibinda Bloomfield operated the Burlington Hotel. She owned and managed the building for 29 years, rising every morning at 4 a.m. to feed the numerous highway- and dam crewmen who stayed there over the years. During the early part of her tenure, Mrs. Bloomfield, or “Mom,” as she was affectionately known around town, personally prepared all of the meals served at the Burlington. She describes the advent of the “camper era” as signaling the end of the Burlington Hotel, though “Mom” kept several guests as boarders throughout the next few years. One man even lived there for 15 years!
In 1973, the building became the private home of Ms. Dorothy Paxton. At first, Ms. Paxton and her husband intended to open a museum in the east wing. Unfortunately, due to sickness in the family and the loss of her husband, the idea never came to fruition. However, Ms. Paxton did leave Lyons with a lasting legacy: she single-handedly founded the Lyons Historical Society.
After exchanging hands a few times throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the property found its current owner, Craig Ferguson.
Photos and information appear courtesy of Lyons Redstone Museum.