Preserving a piece of history at the Glassier homestead in midvalley
Pitkin County has a plan for restoring the farm house built in the early 1900s
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails officials want to seek state historic designation for a 120-year-old house in the midvalley in hopes of scoring grants to help pay for a pricey renovation.
The two-story, brick farmhouse on the Glassier property in the Emma area was “probably” built in the early 1900s, according to the program. It has been unoccupied since 2009. The open space program and partners acquired the surrounding 282 acres in 2013 and 2014. The roof was shored up to prevent water leaks but the house is deemed “uninhabitable.”
“I feel we have an obligation to fix this house,” said Graeme Means, a member of the open space and trails program board of directors. “I think this project is a great showcase for historic preservation.”
A report on the structure touted its “full height brick walls on a stone foundation with a traditional pattern of vertically proportioned double hung windows.”
“A handful of two-story brick houses remain in the Emma area, indicative of the several successful farm operations in the Valley at the beginning of the 20th century,” the report said.
The unique features of the Glassier house include decorative brackets on the gable ends and decorative porch cornice and brackets. “A bay window on the main level façade denoted the formal parlor, often reserved for entertaining guests,” the report said.
A couple of additions, probably from the 1950s, are not so historic but could easily be removed or replaced, said Suzannah Reid, the county’s historic preservation officer.
In addition to the farmhouse, there are several historic outbuildings on the property along Hooks Spur Road, including a log barn, a brick shed, a granary and an outhouse.
Several of the structures are in need of repair.
“We’re doing enough to keep the buildings from falling down,” said Gary Tennenbaum, executive director of the open space program. But old structures “find a way to fall down if you do nothing.”
Renovating the historic structures won’t be cheap.
“This is not an inexpensive endeavor,” Tennenbaum told the open space board.
Reid helped the open space department estimate the potential renovation costs for the farmhouse. It includes asbestos removal, replacement of the septic system and removal of the additions in addition to the restoration of the historic parts of the house.
The cost to renovate just the house could range from $757,800 to $1.1 million, depending on whether new additions that blend better with the historic structure are included.
Getting a historic designation from the state government is required to make the renovation eligible for state grants, Reid said. The county would have to prepare an application that would be reviewed by the state register board.
“It is likely that the house would qualify for the listing,” the report said.
Once listed, grants would be sought from the State Historic Fund.
The open space board voted 4-0 to support seeking the funding. Board chairman Michael Kinsley said the Glassier farmhouse is not only historic but “fantastic aesthetically.”
“When combined with the old barn, it’s just fantastic,” he said.
Tennenbaum said he would run the proposal by the county commissioners in Pitkin and Eagle counties to make sure they want to apply for historic designation. The property is located in Eagle County, which helped fund the purchase of the Glassier property.
Open space officials also kept open the possibility of placing a modular structure on the Glassier property to provide an additional residence. The board saved that discussion for another day.