Breckenridge library, community center project proceeds on schedule |

Breckenridge library, community center project proceeds on schedule

Story and photos by Krista Driscoll
Graham Johnson, of Spectrum, general contractor for the Harris Street project, explains that some of the original stone and plaster walls of the coffee shop will be exposed to show their character when the building is completed.
Krista Driscoll / |

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If you’re driving by the site of the future Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center and library, don’t be deceived by appearances.

“From the outside, it looks like we set up camp and haven’t done a thing,” said Graham Johnson, of Spectrum, general contractor for the project, with a laugh.

In fact, the project, which will completely transform the century-old building, is on schedule, with an estimated completion date sometime in late October or early November. Building crews are well into rough-ins, Johnson said, and have completed demolition of the second floor, opening up the main portion of the library — where the basketball court and auditorium used to be — from floor to ceiling with only a partial mezzanine section on one end.

The original portion of the Harris Street building was constructed in 1909, with the gym added later in 1921. Contractors have exposed the bones of the building, which Johnson said were constructed so well in the 1909 portion that very few additional supports had to be added to the framework.

“Now we know what we’re working with,” Johnson said, adding that most delays occur due to uncovering unexpected issues when stripping buildings down to the frame. “We’ve uncovered everything — knock on wood.”

Preserving the past

Johnson said that his team has done everything it can to preserve as much of the original structure of the building as possible, including a lot of the woodwork, and architects are figuring out ways to incorporate those old elements into the new building.

“The original casement windows are all being restored in Denver, with new weather stripping, glazing and waterproofing,” he said.

Crews also salvaged original hand railings and wood flooring, which will be refinished, as well as about 400 square feet of pressed tin ceiling, which architects will attempt to repurpose in the new Breckenridge Heritage Alliance office space on the mezzanine level. The floor of the gymnasium was also kept and will be used for the floors in the new conference rooms around the edges of the main library and also in the youth multipurpose room, possibly with the familiar stripes still in tact, Johnson said.

For those familiar with the life-size portraits of Mae West, Charlie Chaplin and others on the walls of the former Speakeasy theater, those wall sections were saved and will be touched up by the original artist before being incorporated into the new theater on the lower level.

“They cut the walls and saved those portions,” Johnson said.

General overview

The finished building will have three levels. The lower level will be home to the new Speakeasy theater and will include an addition housing the theater’s concessions, restrooms and a new entrance. The majority of the remaining space on the lower level will be consumed by a general purpose room, which could be used for events and receptions and will have its own set of restrooms, a warming kitchen and a coffee shop. A small corner on the north end of the lower level will be used for storage and the information technology hub.

On the main level of the building will be the new library, with the stacks in the large, open portion of the room, conference rooms around the edges and access to the mezzanine level. The mezzanine is divided into office spaces for The Summit Foundation, the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance and the Breckenridge Film Festival, as well as a few nooks and crannies that could potentially become small lounge areas and causal meeting places.

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