Thomas Guggenheim, Snowmass homeowner for five decades, dies at 94
Part-time resident built two early homes in Woodrun neighborhood
Almost everyone who has ever skied down the trail where Green Cabin and Coffee Pot meet in Snowmass since 1980 has seen the triangular gray Guggenhaus Summit home perched just at the edge of the run.
The home was built by Thomas Guggenheim, one of the Woodrun neighborhood’s earliest homeowners and part-time residents and an active member in the Snowmass Village community for more than five decades. He died Nov. 19 at the age of 94.
Guggenhaus Summit, which cropped up on Pine Lane in 1980, is actually the second structure Guggenheim built. Credit for the first — also one of the first on-mountain homes built after the idea of a Snowmass-at-Aspen ski area was conceived — goes to Guggenhaus West, which he built in the summer of 1967. (Christening his creations with variations of the Guggenheim name was a recurring theme: “He loved branding and naming things,” his daughter Susan Lodge said.)
Guggenheim was the second-ever person to stake his claim to a lot in that pocket neighborhood on the mountain when he purchased the lot from the Janss Corporation; the first was then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
“He told us that Robert McNamara was the first buyer, so I asked, ‘Where’s McNamara building? We want a place as close as possible to his — with views,'” Guggenheim said in an interview for “The Story of Snowmass” book that was published back in 2013.
Guggenheim and his family lived in Snowmass part time, spending parts of the winter and most of the summer there and renting out the homes (first Guggenheim West and then Guggenheim Summit) short-term when they were back in Cincinnati.
“The gifts of nature are obvious,” Guggenheim said when recounting his decades of history with the town in “The Story of Snowmass.”
“Snowmass has been a godsend for us,” he said.
His family includes four children — Susan, Michael, Ted and Dan — with his late wife, Joan, who he met in 1954 and married 10 months later (Joan died in 1969), as well as four stepchildren —Jill, Susan, Missy and Sam — with his wife, Pedie, whom he married in 1972.
“You talk to anybody who’s stayed here for more than 10 years in a second home, it was completely life-changing for the family, and I think that he would also want to be remembered for his creativity, coming up with ideas on ways to let people enjoy what was here more than ever,” Lodge said.
Four of his children now live in Colorado: Lodge and her husband, Fred Lodge, live in Basalt, Michael lives in Denver, Ted lives in Boulder and Dan and Charlene live in Carbondale.
Guggenheim took great pride in his nook of Snowmass Village at the top of Wood Road and the community that started to form there as more homes cropped up around Guggenhaus West and Guggenhaus Summit in the early decades of the resort.
Lodge said there are “boxes and boxes” of correspondence between him and his neighbors.
“He was kind of like the ambassador or the mayor of Wood Road,” Lodge said.
Guggenheim often reached out about initiatives to improve the ski-in, ski-out experience, like laying mats across Edgewood Lane and Bridge Lane (both offshoots of Wood Road), so skiers wouldn’t have to remove their skis to cross when the roads were clear of snow.
Five decades of residents in the Woodrun neighborhood also have Guggenheim to thank for the private homeowners’ ski back trail that connects the Woodrun neighborhood to the Snowmass Mall below and to the Green Cabin trail that runs just above it. He started a process of collecting money from homeowners to pay ski patrol to bootpack a connection to the main run.
And in the summer, Guggenheim identified an easement where he could keep horses, just across the way from the Green Cabin trail; he built a horse corral and would regularly ride through the mountains.
“He just had a real reputation of being a … character, but in a nice way, and very, very curious to know what was going on everywhere,” Lodge said.
That curiosity extended to the development of Base Village, which Lodge said Guggenheim saw as a positive improvement to the village. Though some of Guggenheim’s haunts are still around from Snowmass Village’s early years — The Stew Pot being one of them — Lodge said he wasn’t one to lament the way the town’s landscape of businesses and community spaces has changed over five decades.
“So much has changed. He wasn’t that sentimental,” Lodge said. “I mean, he never said, ‘Ugh, why are they making this change?’ He was very realistic and knew that change is generally good.”
Guggenheim is survived by his wife, Pedie, eight children, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.