The Peck House is located in the small town of Empire in Clear Creek County. Named for the great state of New York, this small town expected to be as great an empire someday. Gold and Silver mines abounded between 1858 & 1865, and many fled the turmoil of the East to stake a claim. Among them was James Peck and his 3 teenage sons. They came in 1860 to build their house so the other family members might follow. In 1862, Mary Grace Parsons Peck brought the family goods by oxcart and joined her family. Soon investors for their mines arrived from the East and Mrs. Peck became a full time innkeeper and cook.
Surrounded by Douglas, Lincoln, Covode, Republican & Democrat mountains and just over Union Pass from Georgetown (that Rebel Stronghold), Empire waged it’s own private Civil War. The regiment dispatched to fight the Southern Troops at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico was filled with Empire’s hometown boys.
By 1873, the war years were past and mining had taken off in Empire. A new section of rooms and a new dining area were built at The Peck House. To accommodate the increase in boarders, the Lake Michigan Ship’s bell over the door was rung 3 times a day to call the men around town to dinner as well as to announce the arrival of the daily hack coming through from Central City to Georgetown.
In 1880, James Peck was killed by a fall from his carriage on Union Pass. Mary Grace Peck and her oldest son, Frank , took over the affairs of the Peck House and mines. A new addition was added to make The Peck House the social center of Clear Creek County. A billiard room, bar, and poker room were added downstairs plus guest rooms upstairs. To comply with the new law ordering all bars to have a library for the education of the miners, a ladies parlor and library were also added.
Many notables passed through in those days including P.T. Barnum, Ulysses S. Grant and General Sherman. The Peck family owned the hotel until the death of James Peck’s Grandson, Howard around 1945.
Since his death, the most notable owners were Margaret Collbran and Louise Harrison, the granddaughters of Adolph Coors, the founder of Coors Brewing Company, and Henry Collbran, one of the founders of the Midland Railroad. The present enjoyment of The Peck House is due mainly to basic structural restoration done between 1950 and 1968 by these sisters. The Hotel Splendide, as they called the hotel, was to be modeled after a small European Hotel.
Many owners followed between the years of 1969 and 1980, most staying only a few years. However in 1980, the present owners Gary and Sally St. Clair visited the Peck House on their honeymoon. They returned several times that fall and by March,1981 had arranged to purchase the small hotel. Just like the Peck’s, they brought their 3 teenage children with them to share in the dream.
Today you will usually find Sally in the front of the house or in the extensive gardens. Gary, seldom seen, is slaving away in the kitchen to produce the unusual and creative cuisine for which we’ve become famous.