25-50-100 years ago
December 20, 2005
Microfilms of The Aspen Times 19041909 are missing from the Colorado Historical Society’s archives. These 1905 excerpts are from The Aspen Democrat.For Christmas Eve the paper published a poem, “Goin’ Back Fur Chris’mas,” by James Barton Adams on the editorial page. The last stanza read,An’ I soon’ll be a kneelin’ in this western home we foundHere in sunny Colorado, with my loved ones all around,An’ I’ll thank the Great Creator fur the guidin’ hand that brought Us into this western Eden, an’ to sich a happy lot.An’ I’ll thank Him that we’ve prospered, that we’ve plenty now in storeTo enable us to journey to our childhood scenes once more,
An’ I’ll ask Him to protect us from disaster an’ from harmAs we’re goin’ back fur Chris’mas on the ol’ home farm.There was news during the holidays from one of the founders of Aspen and The Aspen Times. The paper noted, One of Aspen’s handsomest young ladies received a Christmas card from B. Clark Wheeler wishing her many happy returns of the season and on the card was written in B. Clark’s inimitable hand – “No countess for me when there are so many pretty American girls.” Who can tell what B. Clark is going to do?With 1906 dawning, the New Year’s Eve edition, under the headline “Bright Outlook For Old Aspen,” published some spirited predictions. Mining was where the community looked for riches, but a prescient last paragraph suggested a source of future new wealth.The Crystal City of the Rockies enters upon the new year with the strength of Hercules. Already its mineral veins are voicing anew its riches. The decrepitude of the past is swallowed up in renewed youth, and the coming months will be surpassed the most favored in its history.The pay-roll of the camp is nigh $70,00 per month. By midsummer and early fall the pay-roll will exceed $100,000 per month. This is a princely sum toward making a most beautiful and prosperous city. Not only has the Smuggler mine donned new garments, but the Percy LaSalle and Aspen mountain properties are renewed shippers. The Homestead on Smuggler mountain is now a mine, a new producer capable of an output of 100 tons daily. … The mills of the camp will run day and night, and new mills will surely be constructed to handle the increased output.Aspen Mountain, so long dead-eyed, is now with both eyes open. The Burns shaft is proving the western part [see photo] and the Homestake property on the point of the hill is a creamlet with many seekers. …The entire mining territory of the district is alive with work, and the results are in gold, silver and copper. There will be twenty teams hauling ore in the spring from the Montezuma and Taylor Park.What more could the most exacting Aspenite desire? Real estate is already moving upward in price, and a prominent broker has $1,000 in sales in the city on the first day of next September.
The Aspen Times heralded holiday skiing conditions, despite unseasonably warm weather, on the front page.A good example of Aspen superiority in the skiing world comes to us very forcibly this week when the town is packed full for the Christmas holidays. …We have questioned several visitors on snow conditions and they seem to think skiing is great, excellent, perfect, etc., except that Little Nell slope is icy in the early mornings. Eastern slopes, we are told, have icy conditions almost all the time so Little Nell seems to be as good or even better than Eastern courses. On Wednesday, skiing was reported by local skiers to be better than excellent, which is quite a compliment, considering locals are very critical and do not hesitate to give their honest opinion. So, if visitors are pleased, who are we residents to run down our own facilities. Lodge owners report very few cancellations due to the warm weather with other visitors clamoring to occupy the available space.The formation of a regional Cattlemen’s Association [see photo] was announced,Cattlemen and their wives from Garfield, Pitkin and part of Eagle [counties] met in the Denver Hotel Friday afternoon for formal organization. [Members of the ] Colorado Cattlemen’s Association helped with the initial planning and organization of the group. The names chosen for the groups are Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association and Holy Cross Cowbelles. Approximately 60 cattlemen gave their approval to a constitution and bylaws and selected officers.
The “Around Aspen” column noted the arrival of part-time residents and guests to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s.Mr. and Mrs. Walter Paepcke, of Chicago and Aspen, are spending the holidays at their Hallam Lake home. Visiting with them for Christmas was their daughter and granddaughter, Mrs. Leonard Woods and Sandy from San Francisco. …The Prospector Lodge is bulging with interesting guests who are enjoying a variety of interesting activities. … Taking advantage of the balmy weather last week Mr. [Hoyt] Steele and sons trekked down to the Colorado River with fishing poles and returned with a mess of trout for pre-Xmas breakfast. Mrs. Robbins, from Northfield, Ill., gave herself an unusual Xmas present of a ride on the Tow to the Sundeck Christmas Day. Mrs. Robbins, being 83 years old, said she wouldn’t have missed such a wonderful experience for anything. … Ten Coors, the William and Adolph families from Denver, are guests at the Prospector.
Twenty-five years ago the county moved to prevent the loss of rental housing, as the paper reported,A change in the Pitkin County Land Use Code that may well have the effect of blocking conversion of existing residential buildings into condominiums was approved by the county commissioners at their regular meeting this week. The commissioners made it clear while discussing the code change that their intent was to preserve existing rental units by blocking their condominiumization and subsequent sale. …The new provision prohibits such conversions whenever the vacancy rate for multifamily duplex and triplex rental units in the county was below 3 percent during the previous March. Since vacancies in such housing are extremely rare during the ski season, that prohibition will probably be in effect until such time as Aspen’s chronic housing shorting has been solved.The only exception to the conversion ban are projects in which three-quarters of the units will remain as rental units despite their condominiumization. …Local attorney Herb Klein argued that the regulations were unfair to owners of existing housing, since they would be prevented from coverting their buildings to condominiums, while the construction of new condominium buildings is still allowed.Commissioner Joe Edwards responded by saying that construction of existing units had been approved on the grounds that the units were to be for rent and that now their owners want to convert them to condominiums, sell them, “make six trillion, zillion dollars and retire to the Caribbean.” The grandiose plan for a remodeled, expanded Wheeler Opera House was given a sharp belt-tightening in 1980.The realities of the money market have slowed down and subdued, but not daunted, the plans that the Wheeler Renovation Commission has for Aspen’s Victorian opera house.The commission had been committed to a master plan for the Wheeler which would include an addition and would make the Wheeler a completely functional theater. The cost was projected between $4 million and $5 million. … Then in a meeting last week, all plans were changed. Said Wheeler Commission member Wes Pouliot, “Based on the high interest rates and the bond market and how much the real estate transfer tax had collected in its first year, the most we could sell a bond now for the renovation would be only $1.5 million to $2 million.” …Dick Moore, who is chairman of the Wheeler Commission, said, “We felt we should do something to keep the building from burning down or falling down. The $2 million should be enough to redo the mechanical system, the plumbing, the electrical system, put on a new roof, and remodel the first floor and basement – make the building safe.”Mary Eshbaugh Hayes wrote about the Brand Building, an example of how our historic downtown is constantly being renewed.
The Brand Building is being remodeled. Shops on the main floor are changing. The entire second floor is being refurbished. Victorian trim is going up around doors and windows.Even though the building has always had the flavor of being turn of the century, it is becoming even more so. Yet in the midst of all this history, Harley Baldwin, who owns the Brand Building, has created the most modern of spaces for himself. Finishing touches are being done on his postmodern apartment, which is all in white with a roll-back roof for viewing the stars. …Built in the 1890s, it originally housed the First National Bank and the offices of the Smuggler Durant Mining Company. Upstairs was a big dance hall and several fraternal lodges.During Aspen’s quiet years of the 1930s and ’40s a gas station took over the bank’s location. In the 1950s and ’60s, the whole bottom floor was Stan’s Body Shop and garage. Upstairs was a ballet studio and the studios of artists. There was also an art school, run by Keith Sawvel, for a time. The Brand Building was turned into the shopping complex that it is today when Baldwin bought it in 1971. … [He] started with several shops on the main floor and on the second floor were Greenwich Village-type artist garrets of several early post-hippies. … The artist garrets are now being made into shops or offices. And Baldwin has built his own apartment where the dance hall was long ago. … “I’m finally tying the building with a big red bow,” says Baldwin. “No more rabbit warrens. Now it’s first class. However, nothing in the building is really final. It will probably always have a continuous rebirth.”