Breckenridge’s Milne Park to undergo historic restoration
Historic buildings in Breckenridge’s Milne Park are due for restoration, but the funding likely won’t come for a few years.
The two major restoration pieces of the project are getting a concrete foundation under the Eberlein House, which Breckenridge Heritage Alliance Executive Director Larissa O’Neil described as the “original tiny house,” and building a basement to use for historical collection storage in the Milne/McNamara House.
“It’s first and foremost a project to preserve these pretty important town-owned historic sites and then secondly to make sure we are preserving them in such a way that people can appreciate them,” O’Neil said.
At the Eberlein House, there is no electricity or plumbing, so the Heritage Alliance will have to start from scratch to make it so that people can go inside the house all year.
O’Neil explained that the restorations aren’t meant to make the Eberlein and Milne/McNamara structures like house museums, where you walk in and see them as they were in the 1880s. The Milne/McNamara House currently contains a collection of historic newspapers on the walls, which were used as wallpaper and for insulation but now represent the residential, social and political history of the era — and even showcase fashion and food choices of the time.
“We’re planning a display that really highlights that,” O’Neil said. “It will be a touch screen that people can (use to) actually see those newspapers up close because, currently, unless you’re right there next to the wall, they’re hard to read. So (it will be) an interactive display where people can go in and see the different aspects of the newspaper and explore those in more detail.”
At the Eberlein House, there will be more flexibility. O’Neil said the Heritage Alliance wants to have a display that talks about the family that lived there, one of whom was considered the first Breckenridge local. Throughout the park, the plan is to install additional interpretive signs. Overall, O’Neil said the goal of the project is to create a gathering spot that also looks at the history of the buildings.
“So not only will these buildings house interpretation and displays that talk about the history of them, but they’ll also serve the community in different ways,” O’Neil said. “For instance, the Eberlein House will have rotating exhibits. It will be a space that’s flexible so groups can gather there so there can be small gatherings and presentations and meetings.”
The property was donated to the town in 1986 by Eleanor Milne, who was the daughter of Alice Milne — the park’s namesake. In Eleanor Milne’s will, the donation was contingent on the town keeping the property as a public park for 50 years. This dying wish is a piece of the project, of course, and O’Neil said part of the thought process behind the project is to not only keep it as a public park, but also to continue to use the buildings to showcase the history of the town and Milne’s family.
As a Breckenridge town project, the timeline will depend on the town’s funding priorities in the coming years. The Heritage Alliance presented the project to council at the Nov. 24 meeting in order to complete the entitlement process, which O’Neil said the Heritage Alliance wanted to complete so that the project is shovel ready if and when the funding becomes available and council decides to proceed.
At the meeting, council members raised concerns about additional parking and office space for Heritage Alliance staff, but O’Neil said those elements would be limited: Office space is for two to three staff members, and parking spaces have been reduced from six to three. O’Neil later explained in an interview that moving staff to the property will allow the buildings to be open to the public more often.
The council’s approval of the project does not commit the town to funding the project. While the council felt preserving the historic structures is important, Mayor Eric Mamula expressed concerns about finances amid the pandemic.
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