The writing’s on the wall for an old Aspen Highlands tradition |

The writing’s on the wall for an old Aspen Highlands tradition

Suyin Kennedy has seen the writing on the wall when it comes to an old tradition at the new Aspen Highlands base bar.

Kennedy, the manager of the Commonwealth Pub, believes she has found a way to honor the time-worn tradition of allowing bar patrons to make their mark with graffiti while preserving her new bar’s walls.

The old bar, which was torn down for construction of the new base village, had graffiti upon graffiti on the wood paneling of the ceiling, walls and bar itself. Names, places, dates and phrases had been scrawled in the old bar for more than three decades. Patrons could even see where Highlands patrol members used torches to burn in their names during rowdy parties of a bygone era.

When the new bar opened in December, some people expected the tradition to continue.

“Initially I had people say you can’t get rid of that,” said Kennedy. “I can’t really blame them – having them used to writing on the wall and all this open space.”

Construction crews raced just to get the Pub open on time, so interior decorating had to wait. That left walls that are mostly bare – and awfully inviting to graffiti artists.

Artists struck last weekend during the Blitzenbanger party despite the management’s wishes, although at least one bar worker said he welcomes it. Kennedy said the 20 or so scrawls on one wall definitely aren’t an invitation to let the markers fly and will be removed.

However, she also wants to let the tradition live on, if in a slightly altered way. Kennedy plans to adorn the Pub’s interior with numerous historic photos, including shots from various eras at Aspen Highlands.

The frames around the photos will be extra wide, and patrons will be encouraged to scrawl their graffiti on the frames. Kennedy hopes that will satisfy the urge while allowing the pub to keep clean walls.

Meanwhile, some of the paneling that was pulled from the interior of the old bar is still being preserved by the Hines organization, developer of the $230 million base village.

That paneling may be resurrected in a new business that some longtime locals and Highlands loyalists hope to open, said Georgia Hansen, who is recruiting tenants for the new village’s commercial space.

While the new business won’t be a bar, it will still be an appropriate place to preserve an interesting part of Highlands’ past, Hansen said.

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Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2001

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