Golden History: The Legendary Swimming Pool Under the Buffalo Rose

January 15, 2018
Colorado Transcript, Number 32, June 13, 1935

I recently posted (on Facebook) an ad that I found in a 1934 Colorado Transcript, promoting the Golden Plunge.  That’s the fabled swimming pool under the dance floor in the Buffalo Rose.  Apparently I’m not the only one interested in that topic, because in less than 24 hours, more than 4500 people had viewed the image.

The Overland Hotel was built in the 1860s.  It went through many owners over the next 20 years until, sometime in the 1880s, Edward Berthoud (as in Berthoud pass, the town of Berthoud, and Berthoud Hall on the School of Mines campus) bought it.  He kept his office and residence on the second floor of the building, and rented out store spaces on the street level.  In 1908, at the age of 81, Berthoud fell down the stairs while holding a lighted lamp.  The building sustained some fire damage and Berthoud himself died two months later of his injuries.

The building was razed, and the lot stood empty for some time.

In 1922, Grant Churches built a garage on the spot, where he sold and serviced automobiles.  In 1927, Churches converted the building to serve as an indoor pool.  It was 100’x30′ and 3′ at the shallow end and 9′ at the deep end.  The business was popular, but it failed during the Depression.

The Plunge was re-opened by new owners in 1935, and again, it struggled.  It was a tourist attraction, so local businessmen wanted the city to buy it and use it as a rec center.  Elwood Romney, a coach at the School of Mines, found local investors and reopened the pool in 1938.  In the fall of 1939, he built a floor over the pool, so the building could be used during the winter for roller skating, dancing, basketball, etc.  The following spring he removed the floor (and sold the lumber) and re-opened the pool.

A labor union bought the building in 1941 and renamed it the Labor Temple.  They used it for their own meetings and as a community recreation center.  In 1943, the union was ready to sell the building, and once again businessmen tried to get the city to buy it as a rec center.  The building was still used for dances, and during WWII it was the home of a scrap drive.

In 1944, Leonard Vogel of the Coors Company bought the Stewart building (the one at 10th & Washington with the Indian painted on the side) and donated it to the community as a recreation center, so that ended talk of the City buying The Plunge.

The former Plunge was occupied by Eaker’s Department store from the 1950s into the 1980s. When they closed, it was purchased by the owners of the Buffalo Rose to be used as an events center.

So the big question: is there still a swimming pool under the Rose? There is! I have seen it! It may not look quite as you’re picturing it. It’s not tiled, it’s smooth concrete. The “deep end” is on the east side of the building, and the floor slants up to the shallow end, on the Washington Avenue side. The access point is a very steep, almost ladder-like staircase behind the stage in the events center.

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