1969: Drive Starts to Save Old Railroad Station
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society. Drive Starts to Save Old Railroad StationAspenites and visitors who want to see Aspen’s 80-year-old railroad station remain in the former railroad yards took their campaign to the public this week.Two Denver television stations and newspapers in several states carried the news of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad’s effort to force removal of the former Colorado Midland terminal to make way for a shopping center.Ads decrying the action were placed in local newspapers and petitions opposing the plan were circulated at the International Design Conference and in town.The owner of the well-preserved, one-story building, Bethune and Moore, an interior decorating firm headquartered in Denver, admits that the Rio Grande has the law on its side. But it maintains that the railroad should delay its order for removal until the yards change hands. Some bidders for the property have indicated they might consider using the station as a feature of their design plans.According to Bethune and Moore, it would be ridiculous to move the building this summer, and then move it back again sometime in the future. This would not only be costly but might damage the station.The structure was transported from the southeast corner of town to its present site 45 years ago. It was purchased by Bethune and Moore and has been used as a shop for over 15 years.Bethune and Moore says it will stay in the building, regardless of where it is located.As things stand now, however, the station must be off the Rio Grande grounds by Oct. 1. The railroad recently granted Bethune and Moore a 60-day extension of eviction.But, the railroad explained, removal must be completed by Oct. 1 so that the property can be surveyed for sale to a commercial developer.Other railroad-yard tenants also received eviction notices, including the railroad’s subsidiary, Rio Grande Motor Way truck line.However, the railroad has given no indication of when a purchase contract will be accepted, or specifically what type of development is preferred for the property.Although Rio Grande tracks are being torn up from Aspen to Woody Creek, the railroad has the right to reinstall them at some future date if conditions demand, according to its contract with Pitkin County Commissioners and the Aspen City Council.If the building is moved, it will probably go to the airport area which will be rezoned for business use soon. Hotel Jerome owner John Gilmore said of the building, “I feel it would be a disaster to have it removed.”Another architect, George Nelson of the Design Conference, who serves on the New York Governor’s Council for Landmark Preservation, stated, “It would be a pity to see it go.”Design Conference President Eliot Noyes called the station “magnificent” and declared, “This is the kind of thing that should be hung on to and used in some way. (June 19)
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