Breckenridge community center: Meeting spaces, offices for local groups |

Breckenridge community center: Meeting spaces, offices for local groups

Story and photos by Krista Driscoll
A mural outside one of two offices for The Summit Foundation names the building as a cornerstone of the community.
Krista Driscoll / |

If you go

What: Grand opening celebration for the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center & Summit County South Branch Library

When: Saturday, Jan. 10; outdoor ceremony at 5:30 p.m., doors open at 6, and event lasts until 7:30 p.m.

Where: 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge

Cost: Free

More information: The building is not yet open to the public and won’t be until after the grand opening event. Visit to learn more about the project.

For the “community center” part of the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center & Summit County South Branch Library, planners incorporated a number of elements that would create an atmosphere where families, groups and organizations would feel welcome, including space for the library, offices for local nonprofits and rooms that could be reserved for meetings and events.


The Summit Foundation was one of three organizations that scored offices in the community center.

“We had outgrown our current space at The Summit Foundation, and so we applied,” said Elisabeth Lawrence, the foundation’s events and marketing manager.

“It’s really worked out well. I think it’s important for people to understand that this is a community center, and we’re a community nonprofit. We’re really here to serve the whole community, so that’s why I think it’s a good match.”

The new Summit Foundation offices are divided into two spaces on the second level of the 1909 portion of the building. Lawrence’s office is one of two adjacent to a conference room on the south side of the building.

“We’re gaining a conference area, which we haven’t had,” Lawrence said. “We have lots of meetings, and other nonprofits that we grant (to) can come here and we can talk about other programs that they have going on. We’ll use it as a conference room, day-to-day meeting space and also allow for future staff growth.”

Three large, south-facing widows spill light into the open conference room area, each controlled by a refurbished pulley system, allowing them to be opened to let in the fresh mountain air. Lawrence said the windows are some of her favorite features of the office.

“This room has a lot of character; it really makes you feel like you’re in a historic building,” she said. “When you are sitting in the conference area, it’s almost distracting because the view of the ski area is just amazing. You can look at the mountain, see the lifts going, it’s so special.”

Lawrence said having more space for The Summit Foundation is important, but being located in the community center is an additional perk, giving the nonprofit access to people who might not have heard of it before.

“So many people come to this building for different things,” she said. “We’ll have more visitors and feel like we’re a greater part of the community. We’ve always been on our own, so this will be nice to have a place that has so much activity and life, and we’re looking forward to inviting nonprofits to come to the meeting space here and all the things we were unable to do before.

“Our tagline is ‘Soul of the Summit,’ and I feel that this building really encompasses that, being a community center. This building is going to be looked at as the soul of the community, the heart of the community.”


The Breckenridge Film Festival has been nomadic for a few years in its office arrangements, said Gary Martinez, president of the organization, so having a permanent home is a coup for the festival.

“We needed to find another office anyhow, and being linked up with some other groups like The Summit Foundation, the (Breckenridge) Heritage Alliance and being in the same building as the Speakeasy Movie Theatre when you’re a film festival — it’s good to be close to big movie screens and the smell of popcorn,” he said.

Since the Film Festival has such a small staff, there were a number of places that it could have taken up residence, Martinez said, but being in the community center makes the organization more accessible and provides more exposure to recruit volunteers and promote itself in the county. It’s also nice to be close to other nonprofits for potential collaborations, said Janice Kurbjun, director of the Film Festival.

“I think it’s exciting to have our neighbors who they are,” she said. “The Summit Foundation is a huge supporter, and last year we were able to work with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance for the ‘Climb to Glory’ production. It moves us along with the collaborative aspect of our mission.

“We are really small, so being able to talk to people and bounce ideas off of people and having a home — it doesn’t matter if we’re different organizations; we’re working to better the community.”

One of the first collaborations will be with the Speakeasy, which will once again be a venue for the four-day Breckenridge Film Festival in the fall and, ideally, for other events throughout the year, Kurbjun said. Martinez complimented the town for its choice in what and whom to include in the building.

“To have an old building like this, refurbished, renovated, to have it available for another 105 years for this community, I can’t think of anything better,” he said.


The northwest room on the top level of the 1909 structure used to be a classroom, and it will continue to be an educational destination in its new role as the archive room for the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance.

“Breckenridge has never had an archive,” said Larissa O’Neil, executive director of the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. “So the idea behind this was to create a space that was safe and accessible to the public and would protect archival materials.

“The founding collection of what’s going in the archives is the map and photo collection from the Summit Historical Society. Off the top of my head, I believe that’s about 700 maps and 800 photographs.”

The BHA took an “if you build it, they will come” approach to the archive, in the hope that people would be encouraged to contribute materials from their own collections, such as historic photographs, mining ledgers, maps, rare books and other important, one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable historical documents pertaining to Breckenridge and Summit County.

“We designed the space in a way that the items will be protected, last the test of time and be available to the public,” O’Neil said. “We’ll have an archivist there helping people, whether they are writing a book, working on a family history or students working on a research project. She’ll assist the public in research and digging up archival records for folks.

“This is something that our community has needed for a long time, and it ties really nicely into having the library right there. Archives are things that are treasured by communities, and this will allow us to keep everything safe into the future.”

The archives will be stored in a mobile carriage unit, which is compact, with moveable shelving. The rest of the space in the approximately 20-by-30-foot room will be occupied by chairs and tables where people can research or look at materials, as well as a small exhibit space for historical artifacts, a mini-museum, O’Neil said. And because the carriage unit can be independently locked, the room can serve multiple purposes, with the BHA allowing other groups to use the space for meetings when the archive is closed.

“We’ll get a lot of people hopefully passing through who are naturally curious to see what’s in the building and might just stumble upon the archive, so we’re expecting that we’ll have people who won’t know what an archive is, didn’t know it was there,” O’Neil said “We’re hoping to piggyback that the library sees so many thousands of visitors every year. It’s a great connection between the library and the archive itself.”


There’s a spot for everyone in the new community center, including those who need space for larger gatherings. Adjacent to the Speakeasy Movie Theatre on the lower level of the building is a multipurpose room, which can be reserved for anything from meetings and library presentations to birthdays and wedding receptions, said Scott Vargo, assistant county manager.

“The initial rationale for a large space was for the library and for some of the different programs that it has, children’s story time being the primary one,” he said. “They needed to have a space that would accommodate a significant number of people. Story time could be well over 100 showing up once or twice a week for those programs.”

The multipurpose room can hold about 100 people seated, or 40 to 50 seated around tables, Vargo said. It also can be divided into two separate rooms, each with its own 90-inch TV display for wirelessly projecting presentations from any kind of mobile device and its own Blu-ray player. The room is also equipped with assisted-listening systems for the hearing impaired.

“There’s a kitchen, as well, right across the hall,” Vargo said. “If you had an event in that room and somebody brought in catered food, the caterer can use that. It has a commercial refrigerator, warming ovens, microwave, so they can stage their event from that room.”

There are three tiers to reserving the multipurpose room, with priority going to tenants of the building, county and town users, and certain nonprofits that are funded or otherwise supported by the town, all of which can reserve the room for no charge. A reduced rental rate will be given for the next tier of users, community or civic groups and nonprofits within Summit County.

“Anybody else, a for-profit organization, whatever it might be, reception for a birthday or wedding event, there will be another rate that you would be eligible to rent the space, as well, and that would include the kitchen,” Vargo said.

Reservations will be handled through a central software system, where rooms can also be scheduled at other county properties, including the Senior Center and County Commons meeting rooms in Frisco, the Blue River Room at the North Branch library in Silverthorne and other locations. A launch date for the reservation system has yet to be determined, Vargo said, but he anticipates the multipurpose room to be a popular selection.

“This gives us an opportunity to do more events in Breckenridge, that weren’t possible (before),” he said. “It gives a lot of other groups that have been struggling to find meeting room space in Breckenridge an opportunity to take advantage of it, as well.”

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