Foundations poured for pieces of Aspen’s history

Contractors pouring cement on Friday for foundations of three historic buildings moved to the Marolt property this winter.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Contractors poured cement foundations Friday for three historic buildings moved to the Marolt property last winter from the site of the new Aspen Police Department building on Main Street.

Once the concrete cures in about two weeks, the Victorian-style home, a shed and a barn will be hoisted onto their permanent new homes and restored by representatives from the Aspen Historical Society as living examples of Aspen’s history, said Jeff Pendarvis, project manager for the city’s Capital Assets Department.

“You can’t just go in there and drop them on the ground,” Pendarvis said. “They are a significant part of Aspen’s history.”

The three buildings were moved to the site on the Marolt Open Space just west of Castle Creek in early December. Since then, officials worked out a site plan — the buildings are located on the other side of the bike path from the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum — and other design elements, Pendarvis said.

Aspen police and city officials initially talked about leaving the buildings in place and renovating the home — which was built between 1885 and 1888 — into an affordable-housing unit. That idea was deemed impractical, and the plan then was to restore the buildings on site and make them into a museum.

The second plan was scuttled, however, when officials realized the site was simply too small for the new 18,515 square foot police building, an 8,290 square foot affordable-housing complex and a historic museum. Historic preservation officials generally don’t like to move historic buildings from their historic sites.

However, the three buildings were a natural fit for the Marolt property, which currently features the Holden/Marolt Mining and Ranching Museum, Lisa Hancock, curator at the Aspen Historical Society, said in the spring.

The original log cabin portion of the home was built in 1885, with an addition constructed in 1888, Hancock has said. The Victorian-style home changed very little since it was built, which made it historically valuable and just about the only example of a home from that era left in Aspen, she said.

The historical society received all of the contents of the home, shed and barn when the city purchased the property in 2005. After the buildings were moved in December, historical society officials removed whatever was left so the buildings could be stabilized, Pendarvis said.

Once the city finishes that stabilization, including installing siding, foundations and roofs, historical society officials will begin restoring the interiors to their 1880s-splendor using the artifacts now in storage, he said.

Contractors will use a crane to first hoist the barn into place, then the shed and then the home, which is currently in three pieces and must be stitched back together, he said. That work is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving, Pendarvis said.

The city has spent about $350,000 so far moving and stabilizing the buildings, he said.


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