History in Focus: Where Everybody Stops!
The Golden Cavvy Restaurant and its predecessor – The Baker House – made an incredible run of 110 consecutive years in business from 1903 to 2013. During this span, the hotel and restaurant was a hub of downtown activity while going through various additions and makeovers throughout the decades.
If you walk into Alice Pleasant Park and look at the side of the Golden Cavvy the original 1903 peaked roof building is clearly visible while sandwiched between the two story hotel rooms fronting Yampa Avenue and a one story addition that extends to the alley.
Charles E and Cora Baker built the Baker House in 1903 after they moved from Hahn’s Peak where he worked as clerk of Routt County. It was one of only two hotels and it thrived in its downtown location. Advertisements beckoned, “Just say, ‘Meet me at the Baker House. Where Everybody Stops!” With warm rooms, good food, and great service it was, “headquarters for rancher, homeseeker, and traveling man” (Craig Empire 4/5/13).
In 1919, the Baker House was mired in scandal and controversy. On July 24, citizens were astonished to read in the Moffat County Courier, “Baker House Raided – Soiled Doves Flutter in the Clutches of the Law” (7/24). In veiled language, Cora and her daughter, Maude, were charged with “conducting a disorderly place.”
The raid was actually carried out on the Baker’s private home, the brick house immediately south of today’s Gino’s Pizzeria, and it quickly came under fire for lack of evidence and poor investigatory work. Craig’s other newspaper (yes, there were two!) declared if town officials, “got by with nothing worse than being laughed at, they would be lucky” (Craig Empire, 7/30/19).
Cora was not laughing. She slapped a $30,000 lawsuit on the editor of the Moffat County Courier, the mayor, the town trustees, and the former marshal and deputy marshal for an investigation and article that was “untrue, malicious, and wickedly contrived” (Moffat County Courier, 8/28/19).
Unfortunately, the trail of the case runs cold in the newspapers, and by April of 1920 Cora and Maude sold the hotel and Breeze Street home to escape Craig with a long trip to California and Hawaii (Craig Empire 4/21/20). But the new owners failed miserably and by 1922, Cora purchased her beloved boarding house out of foreclosure (Routt County Sentinel, 9/1/22).
From 1922 until 1963 the Baker House was a stunning long term success. When Maude finally sold the hotel in 1963, it contained 30 rooms, a cocktail lounge, and a track record of 59 years in business!
During those years, the Baker House became part of downtown lore. The unique fireplace hearth and chimney contained two corner-stones from the original Hahn’s Peak jail, and a variety of specimens from mines around Colorado.
Even more famous was Cora’s tropical rubber tree. A geologist who once stayed at the Baker House sent Cora a small cutting of a rubber plant while traveling in South America. She planted it in a bucket, nursed it to health, and by the late 1950’s, the indoor tree snaked around the roof and walls of the hotel’s veranda.
After the Bakers sold the hotel it was renamed the Golden Cavvy and was the scene of a gruesome murder on November 21,1976. Around 9:30 pm, Harold Roberts, entered the bar brandishing a 12 gauge shotgun and murdered his estranged wife, Maria, with one shot to the head while she worked tending bar. Two children, 6 and 11, were left behind (Empire Courier, 11/24/76).
The Cavvy survived the murder, and soldiered on Into the 21st century under a few different owners. In December of 2012, the Golden Cavvy suddenly closed leaving patrons stunned and saddened. In 2013, the Colorado Department of Revenue seized all assets. Back taxes were finally paid, but the old Baker House has silently and slowly degenerated into an eyesore.
The Baker House/Golden Cavvy has been part of Craig from its inception, and was once an important landmark and pivotal part of Craig’s early years. Unfortunately, changing times have kicked her to the curb, and eventually the decaying hulk may be condemned, demolished, and left to our memories as part of the continual change and progress of a small town.
James Neton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Dan Davidson and the Museum of Northwest Colorado for research and access to the museum archives.
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