In a time of opulence and prosperity the citizens of North Pueblo decided to build a palace, as was becoming the tradition in up and coming cities across America. This palace would be located on the north side of Pueblo and would help to bring tourists to the area and entice people to move in to the housing developments nearby. The idea of the building was to showcase Colorado’s mineral wealth and industry on a grand scale.

Architects from across the country were invited to submit plans for the design of the palace. In the end the drawings of a local architect, Otto Bulow, were selected for the structure and in November of 1889 a letter was sent out to citizens across the State of Colorado asking them to put together mineral samples and send them to be displayed in the palace.

Courtesy / Pueblo Parks & Recreation Department

A local resident from Pueblo, William H. "Coin" Harvey helped to raise money to build the palace. From the beginning the plans for building the palace were plagued with financial difficulty. Everyone thought this was a grand idea, but wanted someone else to pay for it. In addition, by placing the palace on the north side of town, citizens from Pueblo’s south side were somewhat disgruntled. The Mineral Palace Company (the company in control of the building) issued $100 bonds in order to raise money for the buildings construction. The bond pictured below is #193
Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

out of 500. The holder of the bond would be entitled to $100 plus interest of 6% per year. This bond was issued on April 1, 1891 and would be payable on April 1, 1896 at the Stockgrowers National Bank in Pueblo. Through all donations and fundraising activities, more than $150,000 was raised for the buildings' construction. (This would be equal to $3,550,310 today.)

The building was constructed at 18th and Main, on Pueblo's north side. It was 244 feet long and 134 deep. Huge amounts of Colorado stone from all across the state was used in its construction which included but was not limited to different shades of granite. The building had a dome at its center which was 72 feet wide and 90 feet high. On each side of the main dome could be found two smaller domes that were 42 feet wide. The large, main dome in the center was decorated on the inside with 16 foot tall women that were said to represent various countries from around the world. There were also portraits of eight influential Americans painted in the dome, but unfortunately no one remembers who the portraits were of. The exterior of the building had a colonnade (regularly spaced columns) and was decorated with scenes of mining and frontier life. Above the corridors, between the colonnade and outside wall of the building could be found 22 smaller domes that were 11 feet in diameter. At each corner of the building, between the column and roof, could be found a globe that was eight feet in diameter.

Opening Day - July 4, 1891 (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)


The Colorado Mineral Palace was opened to the public on July 4, 1891 with a grand celebration including a live band, a parade and a dinner. The grand opening was deliberately held on this date, the 115th birthday of the United States, to lend to its grandeur.

The Palace was considered “one of the show places of the West in the 1890’s.” Contained in the Palace was what was considered to be the world’s largest collection of minerals and gems. The interior of the Palace was beyond luxuriant in its decor and displays. The minerals were showcased on shelves which stretched out for more than two miles along the walls. The more valuable mineral specimens that were sent were put on display in cabinets with glass doors that were at the base of each of the columns in the building.
Interior of the Colorado Mineral Palace (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

Two of the key features in the Palace were the statues that stood on each side of the main stage. The Silver Queen was a statue donated by the Aspen silver mines and King Coal was a gift from the City of Trinidad and served to represent the coal industry in the area around Trinidad and in southern Colorado.
Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

Despite the magnificence of these two statues, the main stage was not to be overshadowed. It was built to represent a grotto and was made of real stalactites and stalagmites. It contained a fountain that imitated a mountain stream which included a waterfall. There was also a nymph type character that appeared to be grasping for sparkling nuggets in the water.

Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District

The Palace was used for many official dinners and gatherings. It has been reported that the Knights of Columbus and the Masons held auto shows there. One Puebloan, Tom Sullivan, recalled in a July 4, 1991 article in The Pueblo Chieftain, that he remembered attending the "sowbelly dinner" at the Palace in either 1925 or 1926 which was a reunion of sorts for old Colorado miners. He states that it was one of the last events held at the Mineral Palace. In the main hall of the building there was room for approximately 3,500 people. There were also smaller rooms along the outside of the great hall that would be used for afternoon teas or smaller meetings. One of the most common events held at the Palace was a stand-up dinner.
Stand-Up Supper at the Colorado Mineral Palace - c.? (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

Soon after the Mineral Palace was constructed it began to fall apart. There was no heat installed in the building and the roof was always plagued with leaks. Repairs to the building were expensive. Combine that with economic problems caused by the flood of 1921 and the Great Depression and the Palace fell in to disrepair. In 1935 it was closed and condemned due to its dilapidated condition. In 1938 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came in and helped clean up and re-label the displays and it was temporarily reopened to the public, however, by the end of that year it was again closed.
Professor Keating, working with the WPA, helps restore a display (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

Colorado Mineral Palace c.1937 (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

Interior Deterioration of the Colorado Mineral Palace (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

Interior Disarray of the Colorado Mineral Palace (Courtesy Photo/Pueblo City County Library District)

They began tearing down the building in December 1942 and were finished by the summer of 1943. There is a lot of speculation about what happened to the minerals and gems that were on display in the palace. In the greenhouse at Mineral Palace Park (which was built in the spot where the Palace used to be) there is said to be information that states the mineral and gem collection was sold to private dealers and smelters for reuse. While this is true for a lot of the materials used to construct the building, it does not necessarily apply to the collection itself. In the July 4, 1991 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain Mary Jean Porter reported that citizens of Pueblo who remember the Mineral Palace had different stories to tell. Some believed that a portion of the display ended up at Knott’s Berry Farm, the amusement park in California. Still others heard stories of the Boy Scouts of America receiving some of the samples, that some of them had simply been stolen or were given to the Masonic Temple. Where the collection ended up simply isn’t known.

In a September 29, 1942 article from The Pueblo Chieftain there was a detailed plan to use materials from the condemned building to help promote the war effort. The roof of the Mineral Palace was made of metal and the north side of the building was reported to have been sheet iron as were several other areas. The city commissioner supported the idea behind “scrapping” the building. The metal was to be sent to the smelter in Pueblo to be melted and reused for war machinery. There is documentation that on "...July 27, 1938 three truckloads of minerals from the palace were sold to the American Smelting and Refining Co. in Leadville." (The Pueblo Chieftain, July 4, 1991) Some of the larger beams from the building were reused in a building down on East Evans Avenue and in pens at the Pueblo Zoo, among other WPA projects in the area.

For information on the Replica of the Colorado Mineral Palace, click here.
In November of 1889 a letter was sent out to citizens across the State of Colorado asking them to put together mineral samples and send them to be displayed in the palace.