Colorado Preservation recognizes Breckenridge’s historical stewardship
The town of Breckenridge received a 2015 Preservation Honor Award from Colorado Preservation Inc., Colorado’s nonprofit historic preservation advocacy organization, at the 25th annual Dana Crawford Awards Celebration at the History Colorado Center on Wednesday, May 6. Breckenridge Mayor John Warner accepted the award, which was granted for the town’s efforts with the rehabilitation of the former Masonic Hall, Harris Street schoolhouse and Robert Whyte house within the Breckenridge Arts District.
“This is Colorado’s premier preservation awards event, where we honor individuals and organizations that make significant contributions toward preserving Colorado’s heritage,” said Dominick Sekich, president of the Colorado Preservation Inc. Board of Directors. “The evening’s namesake is Dana Crawford, a true preservation pioneer who proved that saving historic buildings makes both cultural and economic sense.”
In her nomination, Liz Hallas, of Anderson Hallas Architects, noted that for decades, the town of Breckenridge has maintained a strong preservation ethic of its 150-plus-year history. However, she said, in the past five years, leadership and supportive citizens have proven their commitment to implementing the vision that the town council has set forth on a large scale, with three projects going almost concurrently.
“We usually see towns that might tackle one at a time, but they tackled three large projects at a time,” said Hallas, who was principal in charge of the Harris Street schoolhouse renovation. “The staff has been incredible, lots of dedication and really willing to make these projects come to fruition, from Dale Stein to Jenn Cram and Laurie Best, they’ve been an incredible staff to work with.”
Hallas said she was impressed by the town council’s interest in providing such a variety of amenities for the community.
“The Arts District and all that’s going to offer both visitors and the community, and the community center, with the library, of course, but the meeting spaces where people can gather and get together and rent the spaces for multiple uses,” she said. “I think that not every town or city is interested in providing those, and I think Breckenridge is fantastic for being able to provide those for the community.”
Three strategic acquisition and rehabilitation projects exemplify Breckenridge’s forward thinking, planning and management:
• Harris Street schoolhouse (now the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center & Summit County South Branch Library) is a unique and iconic Mission Revival masonry landmark schoolhouse in the historic district. It underwent an immense adaptive reuse to become a new community space. The former school now houses a library, a first-run movie theater, nonprofit offices and a variety of community gathering spaces.
The town sought strategic partnerships to bring this project to fruition, including Summit County, Department of Local Affairs, Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, Summit County Library Foundation and a successful capital campaign. The multiagency fundraising efforts collected more than $2 million, with gifts ranging from $5 to $500,000 from individual resident and second-home owner donors, as well as from businesses and foundations. The milestone project was christened in January 2015.
• The Breckenridge Arts District is composed of a collection of historic buildings adaptively reimagined to serve as individual studios in support of the new movement to make Breckenridge an arts and culture hub. The buildings include the Robert Whyte house, circa 1881, rehabilitated as a live-work artist studio; the Randall Barn, which serves as the Textile Studio; the salvaged Burro Barn reassembled to serve as public restrooms and the Little Red Shed.
Several new studios were built in a compatible scale and design to complete this downtown infill project. Originally imagined to be built out over 20 years by 2025, the town leadership recently expedited the project and celebrated its grand opening in September.
• The Masonic Hall rehabilitation features a dance studio on the upper level, art studios on the main level and an addition to serve as a catering kitchen for the Arts District. The historic structure received structural reinforcement, and the original Main Street storefront has been restored. The project is scheduled for completion in June. Local architect Janet Sutterly designed this project.
With each of these three projects, the town protected its acquisition, an invaluable historic resource; creatively planned for new, viable community uses within the Breckenridge National Historic District; and provided for future generations. Together, as revitalized historic assets, these projects serve as catalysts for year-round support of the arts, local culture, community and the town’s history. By investing in these rehabilitations, as well as dedicating several key staff members to the oversight of these projects, the town demonstrated its conviction in good stewardship.
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