25-50-100 Years Ago
June 1905Copies of The Aspen Times from 1904 until 1909 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. To continue our journalistic history of Aspen, we include excerpts from The Aspen Democrat, the Times’ competitor 100 years ago.During the last week of June, a bunch of bungled burglaries was reported – along with some editorial advice.On Wednesday evening as Mrs. Phillips was cleaning the front yard of their residence on West Bleeker, opposite the Lincoln school, she noticed that a man passed by the house and then came back again and stood still and watched her.This action on the part of the man somewhat frightened Mrs. Phillips, as it was then dark, so she left her work at the front of the house and went around into the back yard.Very shortly her sister-in-law, Mrs. Ed Boak, came into the house and Mrs. Phillips asked her if she had seen this man hanging around. Her sister-in-law told her no and nothing more was thought of the matter. …Mrs. Phillips then called her little daughter and sent her to shut down the bedroom window. As the child went to obey her mother’s request, she noticed that the window light was entirely out and her hand slipped through. She called to her mother to come, who then sent for the sheriff and upon his arrival and after investigation stated that the man was evidently a professional as the pane of glass had been neatly removed. About 3:00 o’clock in the morning both ladies distinctly heard the sound of some one moving on the roof of the house. This lasted but a few moments and from then on everything was quiet. …Mr. Phillips is one of the shift bosses on the Smuggler mine and is away from home most of the night, but his wife and sister are plucky women and the robber that molests the Phillips home will get all that is coming to him, as the ladies are now loaded for large game and have two howitzers in the house, one at the front and one at the back door. All Aspen ladies that are compelled to remain alone at night should be armed in case this gentleman of the way give them an unexpected call.Shoot, and shoot quick, ladies, if you discover a man prowling around where he doesn’t belong. The robbers are still here but evidently luck is against them as both their attempts to rob Aspen houses have failed and now that the people know of their presence a careful watch is being kept and some one is very apt to get a bullet for their thieving proclivities. …The second attempt was made Sunday morning between 3:00 and 4:00 o’clock, the would-be robbers selecting the home of Mr. and Mrs. McSkimming on East Hallam as their object. They cut down the beautiful vine on the west side of the house. The masked gents then forced the front of the window. However they were too amateurish in their work and the window came down with a slam. This awoke the occupants, and the thieves hearing Mr. McSkimming getting up made their getaway. It appears that the robbers that have been trying to rob Aspen homes are also attempting to secure larger game by breaking into stores. Some time during Monday night the back window of Byron’s bakery was completely shattered to gain entrance. The window opened into the store-room where large supplies of flour, ham, sugar and canned goods are kept.Mrs. Byron does not know just what the robbers took away with them. The festive burglar was abroad again yesterday morning and an effort was made to rifle the barn of Fred Coombs out on the mesa. …The midnight marauders broke into the second story of the barn but in groping about overturned some article of furniture, making a noise sufficient to awaken Bud Coombs.The young man grabbed a revolver and sauntered out to meet the burglars, but they took alarm at his approach and made their getaway. About 1 o’clock Wednesday morning Mrs. Warnock, who resides with her son-in-law, James W. Hetherly, on East Hyman, was awakened by a noise at the back door. She listened for a few moments and again heard a noise as if someone was shaking the door and trying the rear window. …Upon seeing nothing, she called Mr. Hetherly who got up at once and turned on the electric light. This frightened the housebreakers and they scooted. It is fortunate that the gents executed a sprint race as Mr. Hetherly is a splendid shot.The week ended with a report of a discriminating burglar working Aspen’s yards.The thefts of garden hose have become quite numerous recently and if you are the happy owner of a new hose you had better keep your eye on it or it will disappear. … Mrs. Oppenheimer, while looking out the window, saw a man come into the yard, examine the hose [which had been patched and repaired] and then walk off in disgust. Although the lady had a revolver in the house, she refrained from taking a shot at the inspector of the hose. It is too bad that she didn’t wing him so that all would know the thief.An item noted the arrival in Aspen of a disappearing form of transportation in the West (see photo).An old-fashioned prairie schooner with a trailer was the cause of much comment yesterday as it appeared on the streets. Mr. Hall and family were the occupants of the schooner and they purchased supplies before continuing their travels. They are on their way from Meeker to Tin Cup where Mr. Hall will re-enter the mining field he being an old timer of Leadville. They departed last evening for Ashcroft.June 1955If the Armory (see photo) had been torn down, where would City Hall be located? Verlin Ringle commented in his editorial,At one time, the City Council had considered razing the old Armory as an eyesore unfit to use and too costly to remodel. When the people of Aspen heard of this, they raised such a protest that the council did an about face and hired an architect to study its possibilities.The architect, Robert Roy, has made his study and reports to the council that this building IS worth remodeling …However there is one big drawback: the project would cost a minimum of $4000 for the first phase, and upwards of $20,000 to put the whole building into usable profitable shape. The City of Aspen just doesn’t have this kind of money, and the council doesn’t know where to get it. … At the last council meeting, someone suggested a city sales tax, but that was killed there. No one wants a sales tax.Another idea came up that is to raise the property tax by about three or four mills. …Your councilmen are now sounding out public opinion on this, and it’s up to you, the citizens and landowners of Aspen, to let them know whether you really think enough of the old Armory to pay for its reconditioning.Meanwhile, while awaiting the vox populi, the Armory was used as a recreation center as well as a municipal meeting place. The paper reported, Mr. Nelson Smith, Jr., is announcing the opening of his Roller Skating Rink at the Armory Hall. Skating is scheduled for Wednesday and Friday evenings and on Sunday afternoons.Mr. Smith spent several weeks in preparing the floor of the hall where it was in poor condition and assembling the necessary equipment for this popular sport. Shoe skates and clamp-on skates will be available. …Spectators are free and the public is cordially invited to come and look and stay as long as they wish.Perhaps 50 years ago the seeds were planted for Aspen’s downtown malls and “dwell space,” as an editorial commented,The Chamber of Commerce heard a week or so ago of a plan to make Aspen’s business district into a shopping park. We’re for it.We don’t know if it can be brought into being, because of the many landowners who would have to be wooed, but we surely would like to see it done. Grass and shaded walks would look a lot better than the rutted, dusty streets we now have to stumble over, and like Mr. Gruen, we too get tired of curtailing our window shopping until the passing showers do pass.Furthermore, we think the many visitors to this town would like to see some of the local eyesores torn down, and loafing places put up in their stead. As it is, there is no central place where one can merely sit down and enjoy the scenery (whether it be mountains, architecture, or more strollers) without first buying something.And, if these people like Aspen’s downtown, they just might come down more often. And you know what that does for sales. And think what would happen to the whole city’s revenue if these and other people should be induced to come back to Aspen without needing a conference or festival or ski race to lure them in.June 1980The Meadows campus, which cradled Aspen’s cultural renaissance, was sold to a one-time ski instructor and hotel developer. The paper reported,It was confirmed Friday that the property owned locally by the Aspen Institute was sold to Hans Cantrup, the city’s largest land and hotel owner. …Final reading for an ordinance adopting a final SPA (specially planned area) for the 85-acre property is on the council agenda for July 14. …In an interview with the Aspen Times Tuesday, Cantrup stated he would proceed with the application now before the council, but would try structuring the conference center to minimize tourist use. He pointed out that his dream was to build a modern luxury hotel near the base of the mountain and much of his past activity, including promotion of a density transfer ordinance and acquisition of land and buildings, had been with this goal in mind. …Cantrup and his legal advisor, [Andy] Hecht, both emphasized that a major purpose for his acquisition was to guarantee the use of the property by the Music Associates of Aspen (MAA), the physics center and the institute. …An Aspen resident since 1954, Cantrup borrowed money from local ranchers to build the original 14-unit Smuggler Lodge on Main Street in 1955. Although he lost the lodge when he fell behind on his payments, he was able to finance and construct the original 36-room Continental Inn in 1960 and later expanded it to 180 rooms.Since then Cantrup has acquired the Aspen Inn, Glory Hole, Blue Spruce, Holiday House, Alpina House, Cortina, Nugget and Prospector and has options on at least one other.This caption ran with a photo of a group of locals outside a tunnel to the Smuggler Mine.Recently a group of old-time residents visited Stefan Albouy as he worked Tunnel 2 of the Smuggler Mine high up on the side of Smuggler Mountain. Leased from the Smuggler-Durant Mining Corp., the Smuggler was opened by Albouy last February. Albouy told the Aspen Times that on the morning of July 4 he would reinaugurate an old mining tradition by blowing the mine steam whistle, shooting his antique cannon and setting off some dynamite blasts at 7 am.”Solution to housing problem not in rural annexation” was the headline for this editorial 25 years ago.We hope the present city council does not go down in history as having opened the floodgates to strip urbanization by agreeing to annex Pfister ranch and allowing more development units than have been approved by the county. This would be a mistake which generations to come would rue. …Solutions to the housing problem do not lie in encroaching on the rural areas along the highway which the county has preserved through its land use and zoning codes, and through litigation, for all to enjoy. There is more suitable land for development adjacent to existing city boundaries. The recently approved Marolt annexation is a good example. If the council feels the need for housing is great enough it could also use some of the land within the city it already owns. It has more space at the water plant site, at the Ute Cemetery and around the community gardens. All are closer to the core and more suitable than the highway acreage. compiled by Sara Garton
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The new ownership of the Aspen Club & Spa property and redevelopment project has eyed the winter of 2023-24 for its reopening.