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In 1923, Charles and Carolyn Mantz opened the original Armstrong Hotel and named it after Carolyn’s deceased father (Andrew Armstrong), whose house once stood on the property. When it opened, the hotel was the tallest building in town, boasting two elegant dining halls, 41 guest rooms, and various retail shops. The Mantz family advertised the Armstrong Hotel as the ideal location from which to tour the Poudre Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park.
In addition to welcoming visitors, the hotel offered Fort Collins residents a home away from home for many years. Serving the public’s growing love affair with the automobile, it housed the first chapter of the American Automobile Association, and during World War II, it was used as a barracks for the U.S. Army. Many long-term residents of the Armstrong also considered the hotel their home.
As the hotel changed hands, its name changed as well—first to the Empire Hotel, and later, the Mountain Empire Hotel. During the 1970’s, downtown Fort Collins fell into decline as new growth to the south drew business away. During that time the Armstrong Hotel slipped into disrepair as more and more visitors opted for newer hotels. Eventually, the hotel closed its doors in early 2000.
Local Entrepreneurs Steve and Missy Levinger saw potential in the historic building. They purchased it in November 2002 and renovation began shortly after. The Levingers preserved and restored as much of the building’s historic fabric and character as possible. The original storefronts and the 1940’s-era neon sign were recreated from historic photographs. Wood windows were restored, the beautiful douglas fir floors were refinished, and period hall doors and transoms were faithfully reproduced. The newly renovated and revitalized Armstrong Hotel reopened its doors in June 2004.
The building’s architecture still reflects the simple, symmetrical, “clean” form of the early ‘20s. The east and south facades still showcase leaded prismatic glass tiles used to diffuse light into the original lobby and retail spaces. Each corner of the building still features the elegant tile cartouche with a floral motif—the structure’s only non-utilitarian embellishment.
After 14 years of owning and operating the hotel, the Levinger family sold this Fort Collins landmark to Crystal Creek Capital. At Crystal Creek, we love this hotel, and its connection to its setting and neighborhood. Our ardent goal is to preserve the unique nature of the property, and ensure it remains a fixture in the community.
In 2019, we underwent extensive renovations of our rooms, lobby and public spaces. We took meticulous care to create an atmosphere that celebrates our history and shares it with our guests, while creating a more refined and comfortable environment. Our beautiful lobby space invites both locals and guests into its midst, serving as a focal point for the community. For us, one thing will always remain the same: our commitment to authentic hospitality, and to being fantastic hosts.
Fort Collins’ beloved underground cocktail and music lounge, has just undergone a comprehensive renovation, as well as a refresh to its culinary, beverage and musical programming. Recently reopened, Ace Gillett’s continues to provide the community with an upscale, yet welcoming and comfortable experience, but with a sophisticated new design, and an atmosphere that evokes elements of a classic supper club.