Preservation Magazine, Summer 2023

A 19th-Century Quran Stands Out Among the Hotel de Paris' Eclectic and Extensive Library Collection

A Chandos Classics Quran located in the Hotel de Paris' library.

photo by: Benjamin Rassmussen

An undated Chandos Classic Quran on display in the Hotel de Paris Museum library.

How did a copy of the Quran come to reside in a silver-mining town in the Rocky Mountains more than a century ago? You might ask the same question about its owner—Louis Dupuy, a Frenchman with a colorful past who in 1875 founded the Hotel de Paris, now a National Trust Historic Site and museum in Georgetown, Colorado. A free thinker hungry for knowledge, Dupuy assembled a library of nearly 3,000 titles within the hotel before his death in 1900. He was particularly interested in religion, including works of different faith traditions, as well as books critical of religion.

Before he built his successful hotel and personal library, Dupuy was an expelled seminarian, a dishwasher and cook, a translator, a plagiarizing journalist, a deserter of the United States Army, a journalist (again), and a miner.

Dupuy’s self-education was as wide-ranging as his career path. His Quran, an undated Chandos Classic likely printed in the late 1800s, is typical of his omnivorous taste in ideas. The cloth-bound, gold-embossed edition, translated into English, was part of a popular series of more than 100 affordable, essential texts marketed to readers looking to build a dynamic, well-rounded library.

Just as it was in the late 1800s—about 90 percent of the building’s furnishings are original—Dupuy’s library is housed across four rooms at the Hotel de Paris Museum. “The [variety] is incredible,” says Kevin Kuharic, the museum’s executive director. Although visitors cannot touch the books, bibliophiles can explore a searchable index of the library, including Dupuy’s marginalia.

By: Sharon Holbrook

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