The Cañon City Cement Building Block and Tile Manufacturing Company was opened in 1906 by brothers Lorentz and John Ritzman. They manufactured a wide variety of cement products, so it’s no wonder when they built a hotel in 1907 that it was made of ornamental cement blocks. The building was constructed using Ritzman cement at 302 S. 9th Street and named the Rio Grande Hotel. The hotel was designed by architect A. C. Jensen and officially opened on July 13, 1907 under the management of R. A. Starrett.
The opening day reception was well-attended with an estimate of more than 1,000 people according to an article in the Cañon City Record on July 18, 1907. Spreyer’s Military Band gave a performance during the evening as people inspected the building. The hotel had 20 rooms with the hotel and restaurant dining rooms capable of seating 140 people.
The hotel was in a good spot to attract visitors as they stepped off the train due to its proximity to the Denver and Rio Grande train depot. It served the community until the early 1960s when it closed under the name of the Ott Hotel. William Ott purchased the hotel in the 1930s and after he died in 1941, it continued under the name. Businesses worked out of the bottom of the building even as the hotel was still operating. Businesses, at one time or another, included a barber shop, restaurant, and the Cañon City Fruit Growers Association.
The building was placed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 1995 due to its architectural significance as an example of a commercial structure constructed entirely of concrete blocks.
The information presented in this article is compiled using research conducted by the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.