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La Plaza Inn is a historic hotel directly to the left of the Heritage Center. This typical turn of the century commercial building is one of the largest brick buildings in Walsenburg. Its central location in town made it the perfect place for strike organizers to hold meetings. Imagine the negotiations and dealings that took place within these very walls! According to an old family story, during one of the labor disputes a cannonball actually burst through the front wall, over one of the windows, before landing right in the hotel. If you're wondering where the cannonball could have come from, remember that the mining strikes were often violent. Stakes were high, tempers raged and there were frequent and ongoing clashes between company officials and striking miners. In this case the cannon was fired by militiamen who were stationed on a nearby hill. Militia were often engaged by the owners of the mines to control labor uprisings, and that seems to be the case with the La Plaza cannonball story. According to the story, a meeting was taking place at the time, but no one was injured. To the right of the Heritage Center you'll see the historic Starlight Tavern, which features a decorative metal first floor cornice and a neon sign that reads "Starlight Inn". One of its most colorful stories about the Inn involves a gambling raid that took place back in the 1920s. Twenty-three people were arrested, including three government officials. To tell the story here is historian John Van Keuren. JOHN VAN KEUREN: In the early 1900s, and the 1920s, this was a Greek coffee house. The Greeks were prominent immigrants to this area for the coal mines and anywhere you had Greeks, you had a coffee house. So that was upstairs and in 1924 it was the site of the most sensational gambling raid made in Walsenburg, a Chief of Police, Strickland was making a large clean-up and they had attempted to raid the upstairs several times before, but they had a second door with a peep hole and they were unable to get by. But one time they knocked, then hid low and they opened the door and they got in and 23 people were arrested playing the Greek dice game called Barbooth.
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