Years of wondering who will buy Paonia's beautiful Bross Hotel are over.
On Monday Kevin and Karen Kropp became the eighth owners of the 111-year-old Victorian-style hotel on Onarga Avenue. "Kevin had his eye on it for several years," said Karen Kropp. As a history buff he's always admired the building. They thought and prayed about it for a long time. "A few months ago he said, 'What do you think?'"
Linda Lentz, who has owned the hotel since 2000, said she plans to retire.
The Kropp family is synonymous with organic fruit and has operated First Fruits Organic Farms in the North Fork area since the early 1980s. Kevin and Karen believe the time is right for buying the Bross. "Paonia is on the cusp of changing," said Karen. People discovering the area and all of its opportunities. They counted at least a dozen day trips guests can choose, from visiting orchards and wineries to exploring Escalante Canyon and mountain biking on Jumbo.
The Bross offers 10 rooms, each with a private bath, and an innkeeper's quarters. They plan some minor upgrades and to re-name each of the 10 rooms after fruits. For example, said Karen, the honeymoon suite will be named the "Perfect Pear" and another room will be renamed "Peaches & Dream."
Just five days before closing, the Kropps lost their own house and belongings in a fire. The community has been amazing, she said, and responded with donations of food, money and other necessities. A GoFundMe account set up by niece Annavah Kropp to purchase items to get them through the first days after the fire quickly exceeded fundraising goals.
Despite the loss, "We are very excited to be moving forward," said Karen.
They plan to continue operating the 6,600-square-foot hotel, purchased as a turnkey operation complete with antiques and furniture, as a bed and breakfast and a family business. Karen said her son will run the marketing for the Bross. And while they hope to reach people far away, they also want to make it accessible to the local community. It's perfect for wedding parties, class and family reunions, she said. And they would love to welcome church groups and businesses looking for a place to hold staff retreats.
According to Lentz's booklet, "Bross Hotel: 100 Years -- 1906-2006," the Victorian style hotel was designed by William Taylor Bross. Construction began in 1905 and the Bross opened in May, 1906. The estimated 100,000 bricks in the hotel's triple brick construction was made onsite from materials excavated for the basement.
When it opened, the Bross offered the luxuries of indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, and a coal furnace. At the time it was referred to as the "Brown Palace of Delta County."
In 2013 the Delta County Board of County Commissioners placed the hotel on the county's Historic Landmark Register, and in 2015 the Bross was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and social significance to the community.
"It's such a great hotel," said listing broker Bernadette Stech with Paonia Realty. When the Kropps said they were interested in buying it, she said she and Lentz felt very good about it. "The timing couldn't have been better."
Over the years, said Stech, prospective buyers from across the country have shown interest in the Bross, all of them wanting to maintain it as a B&B. However, many were, for one reason or another, unable to secure financing. "They were all great," said Stech, "but not as great as Kevin and Karen."
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.