Caudills leaving town they helped define for midvalley |

Caudills leaving town they helped define for midvalley

A couple that was instrumental in helping define modern-day Aspen is preparing to leave the town they love.

Joy and Sam “Coondog” Caudill have put their home and five acres on the Maroon Creek Valley floor on the market. They plan to move to Carbondale when their home of nearly 50 years sells.

“It brings tears to my eyes to think of it,” said Joy.

Nevertheless, she said it isn’t like the sale of their property will be their swan song. They still plan to stay active and visible in the valley’s civic affairs, she said.

They built the house that Sam designed in 1955. They raised their five children in the spectacular setting just a few feet away from Maroon Creek.

The house was listed last week with Jim Cardamone of Mason and Morse Real Estate. The price won’t be mentioned in advertisements, and the Caudills chose not to disclose it for a news article.

They said they will concentrate on selling the property to a buyer who will be sensitive to the unique environment there. They said they are selling for estate planning reasons and because it is getting harder for them to care for the acreage.

Sam turned 80 this year, and Joy said she is in her 70s. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary earlier this year.

Joy’s family purchased a significant chunk of land on the Maroon Creek Valley floor and up on the rims in 1946. It stretched from the Burlingame Ranch to Red Butte.

When Sam and Joy were married in 1952, they bought five acres from her parents. Sam, a renowned architect, designed the house to take advantage of the natural setting, as in the way he oriented it to receive the greatest benefits from the sun in summers and winters.

Both Caudills have been key players in helping create and maintain the community for nearly five decades. Before retiring, Sam’s Aspen architecture firm designed the Pitkin County Library, the First National Bank building on Main Street, the old Aspen High School, the Aspen Youth Center, the Pitkin County Jail, the Aspen Art Museum renovation and the Hotel Jerome renovation. He and his firm, Caudill Gustafson and Associates, also designed numerous residences in Aspen.

Sam said he always believed in using natural materials similar to the rock and timbers present in the mountains. He also tried to work with the natural features of the land rather than mold it into what he or his clients wanted.

Sam also led efforts to limit the amount of asphalt the old Colorado Department of Highways laid in Glenwood Canyon. The work by him and others forced the state to build a more environmentally friendly project.

Joy co-founded the Aspen Wilderness Workshop in the 1960s to lobby for expansion of the newly created Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness Area. AWW achieved that goal and stayed together to work on numerous conservation issues over the years. It remains one of the leading environmental voices in the valley.

Joy said she and Sam will remain active in Aspen-area issues because it could take a while to sell their property. Even when it sells, she said, they won’t disappear.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is]

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