Basalt history buffs hatch plan to restore barn for museum
Basalt native Janice Duroux cringes at the thought of presenting Basalt history in a stale setting in which displays of artifacts sit on shelves and gather dust but little interest.So she and the other officers of the Basalt Regional Heritage Society hatched a plan to display the area’s history while keeping it fresh and bringing it to life. They hope to raise enough funds to restore the Arbaney barn and use the historic structure as a living museum, educational center and office.”We’re the only town in the valley that doesn’t have a museum. That’s sad,” Duroux said.The barn is beside the municipal pool. Historians believe the two-story former horse barn was built in the early 1900s. Emery Arbaney purchased a ranch that included the site, and possibly the structure, from J.B. Kingley in 1909.Emery and Lottie (Cavel) Arbaney’s son Frederick and his wife, Josephine (Zelnick), moved onto the ranch in 1949 and steadily expanded the property. The town of Basalt purchased some of that ranch, including old kilns, in the early 1980s for the community park that exists now.The log barn is on the edge of that park. It’s used for storage and is slowly rotting, so the heritage society wants to put it to good use.”We’re not looking at a museum in the traditional sense,” said Diana CordovaElliott, president of the organization. “We want a demonstration of what life was like in the town of Basalt.”CordovaElliott is big into dressing in period clothing and demonstrating the skills needed in a particular era. She envisions enlisting Duroux and Basalt Regional Heritage Society Treasurer Nancy Maurin to dress as late-1800s housewives and perform tasks like churning butter and baking bread in the living museum.Living displays wouldn’t take place year-round, but maybe three or so days during summers and when students visit during winters, CordovaElliott said.There is no shortage of artifacts that could rotate in and out of circulation. Dinnerware from the old Midland Railroad is available for loan. Old ranching equipment abounds, and there are loads of pictures.Duroux said that as old-timers die, their kids are anxious to donate some relics they find in attics and the backs of closets. Unfortunately, the historical society isn’t in a position to accept much.”I think we’ve waited too long, and some of this stuff has disappeared,” she said.That’s why the push to restore the Arbaney barn has gained urgency. One estimate on the cost of the project is $210,000. The organizers hope to land grants from groups such as the Colorado Historical Society. Even so, 25 percent in matching funds would be needed.The historical society is holding one of its occasional fundraisers Saturday night to help generate some of that matching money. Saloon Night will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Two Rivers Cafe. It will feature games of craps, Texas hold ’em and blackjack.There will also be performances by magician and riverboat gambler Doc Eason, a cash bar and chuckwagon buffet. A silent auction will be from 8:30 to 9 p.m.Tickets are $40 for members of the historical society and $50 for the public. They are available at Basalt Town Hall, Community Bank of Basalt or by calling 927-4693. Details about the historical society’s programs are on the Internet at http://www.basaltheritage.org.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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