October 30 - On the Auction Block: a Charming Get-away, an Homage to Fiction, and the World's Largest Key Collection

Posted October 30, 2018

The world's largest key collection...is in a small town in Colorado???

"The Key Room" of Baldpate Inn, in Estes Park, CO, has more than 30,000 keys, including some super special ones:

A key to a White House bathroom 
A key to Frankenstein's Castle 
A key to Mozart's wine cellar 
A key to Hitler's bunker 
A key to some door (not sure which one!) in the Pentagon 
A key to Westminster Abbey

Then there are a few surprises:

A key to a Peruvian monastery 
A piano key 
Several keys to the dressing rooms of Hollywood actors 
Instead of a key to seclusion, a key to occlusion - six-year molars!

And of course the ordinary:

Loads of keys from every corner of the U.S. and quite a few corners of the world

Why does the Baldpate Inn, in Estes Park, CO, have the world's largest key collection?

There's a book of fiction about a fictional Baldpate Inn. A man who visits the inn needs peace and quiet, total seclusion, and he is so happy to have the key to the inn so that he can achieve the alone time he needs.

Buuuutttt...it turns out that the title of the book is The Seven Keys to Baldpate. And, sure enough, the main character doesn't realize that six other characters also have a key. And the book concerns what happens when they use their keys and break the man's solitude...

The owners of an inn in Estes Park built it in 1917 with hand-hewn timber cut from the property and massive stone fireplaces to provide heat and hot water. When the author of the mystery novel about Baldpate visited the Colorado inn, he declared that it looked just like his imaginary inn, and the owners decided to name their inn Baldpate.

In order to honor the story line of the novel, the owners gave each guest their very own key to the room they'd stayed in - and they got a reputation and a lot of return customers from this unusual tradition. 

But then there was World War I, and the price of metal became so high that the Baldpate Inn could no longer afford to give keys away.

Their loyal return guests were disappointed. But a famous lawyer had a clever idea - he decided that if guests couldn't take a key, they could instead BRING one. And other loyal guests decided to get into the action and bring the inn a key, as well. And somehow a competition grew up to give a key from farther and farther-away places...or from more and more exotic sites.

It got so interesting to have so many keys from so many special places, the Baldpate Inn owners realized that they had to display this growing collection...

...and so, the Key Room!

The Baldpate Inn is located in a beautiful
town in the drop-dead-gorgeous Rocky Mountains!

The family that originally owned the Baldpate Inn sold it to another family in 1986, and then the inn was sold at auction on this date in 2017. I checked, and apparent the Key Room is still intact, and the new owners have added a Key-thedral Theater in an outdoor space during the summer months...

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