By: Michelle Karas
Although a previous version of The Antlers hotel in downtown Colorado Springs has been lost to modernization, a local college student has preserved its architecture in Legos.
Adam Moore, 18, spent the spare moments of his final year at Doherty High School painstakingly building a scale model of the second Antlers, which was demolished in 1964 to make way for the current, modern building, opened in 1967 as the Antlers Plaza Hotel. Now those who never saw the beautiful building that was The Antlers for the better part of the 20th century can view it – in 3-D miniature.
The Antlers’ second building was built in 1901 in the Italian Renaissance style, with symmetrical wings and, as Moore put it, “no front or back. They were both the same.” The original Antlers had opened in 1883 and been destroyed by fire in 1898.
Moore used computer-aided design and enlisted the help of an archivist at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum to get the details and scale just right. Then he set about the business of carefully setting 7,500 Lego pieces in place to bring the second iteration of The Antlers hotel back to life.
He put the finishing touches on the intricate project in September and delivered it to The Antlers in October after sparking the interest of hotel General Manager Arron Duff. Moore and his father set the delicate model atop a mattress in their Jeep and drove “very slowly” while bringing it to the hotel, he said.
“I like to use Lego blocks because you can just use them in so many different ways,” said Moore, who studies mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. “A lot of the design for ‘The Antlers 2’ was really inspired by LEGOLAND (the Florida Resort). I’ve been there four times so far. It’s the most fun for me.”
The model is about 4 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet and is displayed in a glass case adjacent to the hotel’s ground-floor gift shop.
“This spot is perfect,” Moore said last week while looking over his work. “I always thought it would go here to The Antlers or to the Pioneers Museum.”
Duff said the replica has garnered a lot of attention and “has become part of the hotel.”
“I’m in love with it,” he said. “It’s just a neat project and a good story.”
Duff said the hotel is considering purchasing the model or providing Moore with a scholarship.
Moore and his dad, Robert Moore, spent $2,000 on the Legos for the model, with each piece costing 5 to 30 cents. He bought them from BrickLink.com, a Lego broker.
Moore got creative with some of the Legos to make things look authentic. He used the legs of Lego skeletons, turned backward, for balconies. Lego unicorn horns are the pointy tops of the building’s spires. And to get the roof to just the right hue, Moore used brown nail polish.
Robert Moore said the front parlor of the family home in Colorado Springs was given over to his son to assemble The Antlers replica. Bins and bins of Legos flanked Adam Moore’s workspace for months.
He put together the entire hotel replica with steady hands and not a drop of glue.
“It’s all self-standing,” he said proudly.
But the assembly wasn’t without its difficulties – especially on the final step of construction.
“I had to rebuild the roof seven times after it caved in,” he said.
News of the tiny Antlers has gotten around. Moore said the Colorado Youth Ballet has requested that the model be moved to Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts for its Dec. 20-21 performances of “A Colorado Nutcracker.” For that, he plans to decorate his model for the holidays, complete with “snow.”
This isn’t Moore’s first historic hotel in Legos. His Eagle Scout project was to build a Lego model of the historic Strater Hotel in Durango. That model was displayed there until a clumsy patron bumped into it and destroyed it, he said.
Other models have found protection in the Moore basement, where about 90 Lego kits he finished throughout his childhood are preserved on 14 tables, Robert Moore said.
“Adam would love to make a business where he makes these for historic hotels around the country,” he said.
But also, “It’d be great to work for Lego,” Adam Moore said. First, he’s dreaming of a college internship at Lego or SpaceX, which designs spacecraft.
For now, while class is in session at UCCS, Moore is taking a break from Lego modeling, “but in a few months or so I’ll probably want to do a new one.”
He has his eye on replicating the historic Swan House in Atlanta.
“It’s just that’s a long, long way to deliver it,” he said.