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March 10, 2013
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Breck to buy Abby Hall

Breckenridge will soon add another historic building to its growing arts district with the pending purchase of Abby Hall, currently home to the Great Divide Calvary Church.

The town is in the process of acquiring the 121-year-old structure from long-time locals John and Wendy Cooney. It will likely be used as a dance studio within the arts district, according to a statement on the purchase.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the town to preserve an iconic building," Breckenridge Mayor John Warner stated in the release. "It provides a strong link from the arts district to the Riverwalk Center. We are grateful that John and Wendy have a similar vision of historic preservation and that it was made available to us."

Abby Hall, constructed around 1892 on the north corner of Main Street and Washington Avenue in Breckenridge's historic downtown core, was originally owned by Dr. B.A. "Braz" Arbogast and was used as a grocery store and a doctor's office. A local Masonic Lodge purchased the building in 1905 for $800. A century later, the Cooneys bought it and it has since become a church.

It is still unclear how much Breckenridge will pay for the structure, as the deal is not yet final.

"The town has signed an 'intent to purchase' agreement, so no monies have been exchanged until closing," Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo told the Summit Daily in an email.

The town is slated to close on the building April 1.

It will become part of an evolving arts district campus in the center of town, which now includes several historic buildings housing everything from antiques to museums to public art studios where Breckenridge residents and visitors can take classes or watch visiting artists work.

Town officials are currently redesigning the arts district to create the sense of a cohesive campus among the buildings and, ultimately, tie them in with the Riverwalk Center, located on the opposite side of Main Street across the Blue River Plaza from the remainder of the district.

Abby Hall, located on Main Street, is intended to provide a natural connection between the Riverwalk Center and the other structures - most of which are situated between Main and Ridge streets along Washington Avenue - and provide a venue for a needed dance studio in the district.

The Arts District, commissioned in a 2004 master plan to ensure the adaptive reuse of a number of historic buildings, was set to be completed in 2025, but town leaders decided last year to accelerate the development. It is now set to be completed by 2015.

"I love the vision of this functioning as a fully realized arts district," Councilman Ben Brewer said of the plan in 2012. "I think it could become an economic engine for our town."

More than $2 million is budgeted for arts district improvements this year. It is unclear whether the cost of Abby Hall will come out of that money.


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The Summit Daily Updated Mar 10, 2013 05:04PM Published Mar 10, 2013 05:02PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.