Frisco seeks site for historic Excelsior House relocation

The Excelsior House, one of Frisco's most beloved historic properties, photographed at the Frisco Adventure Park on Sept. 12, 2019.
Sawyer D’Argonne /

FRISCO — The town of Frisco is looking for a new location for one of its most prized historic properties: the Excelsior House.

The somewhat worn-down red house — currently sitting on a set of steel beams in the Frisco Adventure Park’s boneyard — might not look like much. But the structure serves as an important reminder of the town’s mining history, and officials are hoping a change of location could help provide new life for the house.

“It’s been preserved because it’s a symbol of Frisco’s mining history,” Frisco Historic Park and Museum manager Rose Gorrell said about the house. “It’s an opportunity. It’s a really great chance to be able to find a spot that’s going to be able to represent Frisco’s history.”

The Excelsior House served as an administration office for the Excelsior Mine — a gold, silver, lead and copper mine in the north Ten Mile Canyon — beginning in the late 1890s. At its peak, the mine operated a boarding house, barns and ore houses along with the mill. But perhaps most importantly, the mine also operated a hydroelectric power plant that ran a power line to the town — Frisco’s first source of electricity.

The Excelsior Mine and its mill closed its doors for good in 1921, and Frisco wouldn’t regain electricity until the 1940s, according to Gorrell. Though, the Excelsior House still stood following the closure. It was moved to 208 Galena Street in 1938, where it remained for almost 80 years until developer Larry Feldman — who owns the Galena Street property — donated the house to the town of Frisco and had it moved to Frisco Adventure Park.

Now, the town is looking to move the house again, hopefully for the last time. The move was outlined in the 2019-20 Frisco Strategic Plan, which called for town staff to establish a new plan for the relocation of the Excelsior House. Staff presented the town council with a number of potential sites for the relocation at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

According to Bill Gibson, Frisco’s assistant community development director, the council helped to narrow the possible locations for the house to just a few, including 113 Galena St., the pocket park at Third and Granite streets and the Peninsula Recreation Area. Gibson said the town also is considering a partnership with private landowners for the relocation, including Feldman, who’s pitched locations on his land in the past.

Gibson said the next step is a detailed analysis of potential locations, including zoning, opportunities for reuse, historical context, cost, access to roadways and utilities and more.

“Just big picture, we’re going to take a closer look at those sites and start looking at more details of the property and feasibility and what opportunities each property has for the use of this building,” Gibson said.

Of note, Gibson said the town is considering ways to create an “adaptive reuse” of the Excelsior House — which could mean anything from a public gathering space to employee housing among other options — though the town hasn’t yet determined what new utility the house will have once moved.    

The town expects relocating the house to cost about $25,000 to $35,000 along with another $50,000 to $100,000 for restoration work. Gibson noted that those price tags are mere placeholders until the town decides on a new location, reuse strategy and the scope of restoration work on the house.

The project will return to the council before any decisions are made, and Gibson invited members of the community to share their thoughts on the relocation with town staff.

“Hopefully, we can find a spot where we can reuse the house,” Gorrell said. “One of the community’s desires is to make sure our history is preserved. And the best way to preserve is to find a way to reuse.”

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