Going to great heights for history in Aspen
September 10, 2009
ASPEN – The tower atop the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen was restored to its historic glory Wednesday thanks to the efforts of New Castle man who clearly has no fear of heights.
A couple of the decorative metal flowers that ring the top of the tower had long been missing, and one was recently dislodged, according to Jodi Smith, facilities manager for Pitkin County.
After having the courthouse trim and the tin-plated tower on the structure repainted this summer, the county decided to replace the missing flowers, too.
One flower that broke off during the painting work was reattached, and two new, metal flowers were fashioned by Pacific Sheet Metal of Carbondale and Aspen. On Wednesday, Pacific’s Jay Sallee clambered up an aluminum extension ladder onto the tiny square platform atop the tower, roped himself to the rail that rings the perch and riveted the new elements into place.
“I’ve had people tell me I’m crazy for doing this,” he said.
Sallee and co-worker Mario Lucero had to hoist the ladder up onto the roof with a rope from the outside, as it couldn’t be maneuvered up the narrow staircase that empties onto the roof from the attic, at the base of the tower.
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The courthouse was constructed in 1890. Scrawled on the window frames inside the tower are names dating back to the late 19th century, along with plenty of newer inscriptions from workers who have been inside the structure. Yellowed, curling business cards left by local police officers and various workers are punched onto nails alongside one window.
Sheets of plexiglass have been ordered to cover the wooden frames and protect the names inscribed there, Smith said.
“I don’t mind the new history, I just don’t want it to cover the old history,” Smith said.