25-50-100 years ago

Compiled by Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Weekly

Big-time entertainment came to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House a century ago. To be shown was a documentary film of the heavyweight bout between Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson, billed as the “fight of the century,” which produced the first black heavyweight champion of the world. Public screenings at the time produced protests and hundreds of cities barred the film of the event from being shown, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The Aspen Democrat-Times reported:

The famous moving pictures of the Jeffries-Johnson fight of July 4th last will be shown at the Wheeler opera house tonight.

These are the original and only authentic copywrighted [sic] picture films of this great contest which so recently aroused international interest. These pictures are today creating a furor where ever shown and are being greeted everywhere with capacity houses.

From a photographic standpoint, these pictures are the best that have ever been taken of a fistic encounter. Every feature of the great fight has been brought out in its best phase and there is not a movement made by the two men that is not depicted in life-likeness upon the screen.

Probably one of the strongest features of this film are the pictures of Jeffries’ training quarters and the prominent men of the sporting world who were assembled in Reno the day of the fight. A special announcer accompanies the pictures and will tell us all about it.

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An accidental shooting – it was labeled “promiscuous” by The Aspen Democrat-Times – made the news a century ago. The newspaper reported:

Shortly after o’clock this afternoon, as Eric Erickson and his little brother, the children of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Erickson of Red Mountain, were playing in the shrubbery in the vicinity of their ranch home, Eric was shot through the knee by a bullet from the gun of some hunter. After passing through the knee of Eric, the bullet entered the shoe of his brother.

The parents of the boys being in town, Mrs. Thomas Gagnon brought the children into the city and they were later taken to Dr. Lof’s office for medical treatment.

The name of the careless hunter could not be learned.

Long before the Hidden Gems campaign, motorized use of the backcountry was in the news. Owners of Tote Gotes, off-road two-wheelers of the day, were up in arms. The Aspen Times reported:

A preliminary battle by Tote Gote owners to obtain equal treatment with their equine counterparts was won this week when the local Forest Service rescinded an order closing three trails to their use.

The original closure order was issued by E. H. Mason, supervisor of the White River National Forest, in August, to take effect September 1.

It created a storm of opposition by Tote Gote owners, who objected to what they termed discrimination on the part of the Forest Service. The three trails closed were not in Wilderness areas, which are normally closed to machines.

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Ski company revenues hit a record 50 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

During the year ending in April, 1960, the Aspen Skiing Corporation had a record gross income of $566,646, by far the highest in its 14-year history.

Earnings and expenses for the Aspen-based corporation , which runs the ski lifts on Aspen Mountain, were revealed recently in the annual financial statement and report to stockholders.

In the report, corporation officials compared the present income with that of its first year of operation, in 1946-47, when it took in $40,705.

Operating expenses for the firm during the period covered by the report was $227,646 and administrative and general expenses were $119,053, bringing the total to $346,468.

Architect Fritz Benedict was to take a leadership role with the Aspen Music Festival and School 25 years ago. The Aspen Times reported:

When nations need to solve world problems, they gather their best advisors and call summit conferences in Geneva.

When an organization like the Music Associates of Aspen suffers an internal rift like the one which began Aug. 14, they call in a peacemaker like Fritz Benedict.

The man who will soon celebrate his 40th year in Aspen was asked last week by the MAA to step in and help nurse the ailing organization back to health. Fredric “Fritz” Benedict was elected Acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees by a quorum which met on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Earlier this week, Benedict announced he would retire from the architectural firm of Benedict Sutherland-Fallin, Inc. in order to devote the time necessary to “do it right.” He will still act as a consultant for the firm.

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Aspen’s Sardy House, a one-time mortuary being converted into a bed-and-breakfast inn 25 years ago, was getting scrutiny as the renovations were under way. The Aspen Times reported:

Personal preference versus what is correct historically was the topic of discussion at this week’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Committee.

At issue were the colors chosen by architect Harry Teague for the trim of the Sardy House. His firm selected black and green as the accent colors for the structure that was built in the 1890s, and originally called the JW Atkinson residence.

Since the Sardy House has been designated a historical building, all changes made on the old structure are subject to HPC approval.

The color choice was criticized as being “too dark” by two of the four HPC members in attendance, with Mary Martin especially vocal about her disapproval. Martin suggested opening the subject up to the public for their say-so in the matter.

Architect Teague defended the choice by saying the colors were “historically correct.”

He later questioned whether the HPC had the jurisdiction to make decisions based upon personal preference.