Elitch Garden Story - Arapahoe

Transcription

Elitch Garden Story - Arapahoe
A CLASS ACT
THE ELITCH GARDENS STORY
INFO & PHOTOS FROM
Spinning a Century of Dreams
Betty Lynne Hull
John Elitch
•  b: Mobile, AL; 1850
•  Left home as soon as
possible for SF, CA
•  Worked restaurants in
theater district
•  Occasionally had acting
jobs
•  Mgr. Mannings Oyster
Grotto
Mary Elizabeth Hauk
•  b: San Francisco, 1856
•  Eloped San Jose, 1872
•  Saw first play, San Jose
•  To Denver w/ John, 1880
•  1ST season was smashing success, $35k
•  But John grew restless that winter
•  He formed Goodyear, Elitch, and Schilling
Minstrels and started tour of West Coast
•  Caught pneumonia and died, San Francisco,
March 10, 1891
•  After much soul-searching, timid Mary
decided to run and make the Gardens
famous as a memorial to her husband.
•  And she did just that for 26 years.
•  She started a vaudeville and light opera
program in “John’s” theater.
•  She also co-managed the theater at rival
Manhattan Beach (Sloan’s Lake)
SUCCESS
SUCCESS
•  1893 Silver Panic devastated Colorado;
1/3rd of Denver became unemployed.
•  But Mary’s Gardens were an escape and
drew record crowds.
•  First “movies” in western US were
Edison’s Vitascope shows starting in 1896
season.
•  Balloon (65’) rides, weddings & jumps
•  Elitch Gardens Orchestra (Denver’s first
symphony) brought Paderewski to town.
•  Mary started summer stock theater program:
Ten different plays
James O’Neill & Jane Kenmark, leading
Mary paid equal to Broadway
1900, Mary married her Garden Manager, Thomas Long.
Train (12”, coal fired, 8 cars) started operation that year.
Thrilled by a Coney Island coaster ride, Mary had the
Toboggan 8 Coaster built by 1904 season
The first carousel was installed by the 1906 season.
• Thomas Long was killed in an auto accident in 1906;
Mary never married again.
Also: C.B. Demille, T. Power Sr., S . Byington, G. Arliss, L. Stone
New modern house for Mary, 1920
Wildcat 75’ roller coaster, 1922
Haunted House
Remodeled Old Mill, 1928
White-columned pergolas over sidewalks
Mulvihill built 160,000 sf of
greenhouses, branching into
floral business with his
youngManager, Walter Lehrer.
Original farm entrance on 38th turned into
auto gate
Hover Motor Co gave- out free spare tire
covers w/ Elitch motto.
Mary always disapproved of
public dancing; but…
Mulvihill talked her in to it in
1917 promising strictly
controlled behavior.
5 cents a dance, white gloves,
tie, & coat required
Youngster’s dancing lessons &
afternoon Tea Dances made
the ballroom an instant hit
Mulvihill constantly reprimanded
Edward G. Robinson for his
“sloppy appearance.”
Fredric March (’26-’28 seasons),
against Mulivhill’s orders
married costar, Florence
Eldridge. Mulvihill fired her but
they remained married 40 years
until her death.
Mulvihill’s health deteriorated seriously in 1929.
He had made the Gardens solvent and an immensely
successful enterprise.
He was very pleased with his young manager, Arnold
Gurtler, who had married his only child, Marie.
He died in 1930 leaving the Garden to his son-in-law.
Replace wooden fence
Expand formal gardens
Enlarge John Elitch’s
baseball field
Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey, Harry
James, Les Brown w/ Doris Day,
Guy Lombardo, Stan Kenton,
Buddy Rich, Tex Beneke, Wayne
King, Gene Krupa, Lawerence
Welk, Bob Crosby, Ozzie Nelson
w/ Harriet Hillard, Dick Jurgens,
Eddy Howard
Mary
1934
Mary’s
House
“The gracious Lady of the Gardens” died of
a heart attack, at 80, in 1936.
56 years in Denver, she was inducted into the
Colorado Business Hall of Fame for
dedicating her life to the success of the state.
Both had worked as kids as
ushers, parking attendants,
greenhouse labor.
Jack
Bud
Returning from Marines in
1945, they took over Garden
management from Arnold,
alternating between Theater
and Trocadero
Helen Bonfils,
Actress
&
Theater Manger,
’34 to ‘54
Mary’s house demolished 1960
Miniature golf replaced apple orchard,
greenhouses torn down 1965 and Trocadero
demolished 1975
In 1985, Bud’s son, Sandy, took the reins.
In 1995 the Gardens closed and Elitch
Amusement Park opened at the present site.
A CLASS ACT
THE ELITCH GARDENS STORY
INFO & PHOTOS FROM
Spinning a Century of Dreams
Betty Lynne Hull

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