Board: Move historic buildings to Marolt
Three historic 1880s-era buildings now on the site of a proposed new Aspen Police building will be moved to the Marolt property west of town, according to a decision late Wednesday by Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission.
“I think the relocation is really a slam dunk,” said commission Chairman Willis Pember. “I don’t see any downside to it. I’m excited for the public to have access to it.”
Commission members also approved recommending plans for the 18,515 square foot police building at 540 E. Main St., and two other buildings that will contain affordable-housing units go to the Aspen City Council. Based on previous Historic Preservation Commission comments, planners reduced the height of the main building and broke the affordable-housing component into two buildings to reduce the height of what was originally slated to be just one affordable-housing building.
The affordable housing buildings will consist of 15 total bedrooms in a blend of one, two and three bedroom units, as well as three studios, according to plans.
The historic buildings — which include a well-preserved log cabin, a shed and a barn — were originally slated to remain on the site and become affordable housing and possibly an interactive museum. However, that proposal quickly became unworkable and the plan to transfer the buildings to the property that already supports the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, run by the Aspen Historical Society, gained steam.
Kelly Murphy, president of the Aspen Historical Society, said that while it’s unusual to move historic buildings to another site, in this case it makes sense. That’s because the Marolt space will more closely mirror the building’s original set up back in the late 1800s, she said.
As proof of that, Lisa Hancock, curator at the historical society, showed commission members two photos taken around 1890 before the Pitkin County Courthouse was built and another in 1893 after the courthouse was constructed showing the three buildings in an open space far less constricted than today. Marolt offers that original feel, she said.
The historical society will restore the buildings to their 1880s condition, complete with the original furnishings like wallpaper and flooring, which the society has stored since 2005 when the city bought the property. The barn may be used as a blacksmith shop, while the shed may be reshaped into a blacksmith shop, Hancock said.
The Historic Preservation Commission also will be involved in determining how the buildings will be moved and how they will be situated on the new site, said Amy Simon, the city’s historic preservation officer.
“I’m 100 percent in favor of this,” said commission member Bob Blaich. “This is a great step forward and I think the community will benefit greatly from it.”
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