Jim Bunting honored with Theobald Award for Historic Preservation
BRECKENRIDGE — Community members gathered on the Barney Ford Lawn in Breckenridge on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the work of residents in the community who are taking steps to help preserve the town’s historic treasures.
The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance presented the Theobald Award for Historic Preservation to Jim Bunting at the event, highlighting his work on a number of preservation projects in recent years.
“Everybody likes to be recognized for their efforts,” Bunting said about the honor. “I’ve always felt comfortable staying in the background and letting someone else take credit. Getting the job done has always been my reward. But last night was different. I got recognized by my peers, and that was pretty special.”
The Theobald Award was started to honor longtime locals Robin and Patty Theobald for the work they’ve done to help maintain Breckenridge’s community character through preservation and community service, and it recognizes other individuals doing meaningful projects in the realm of historic preservation.
This was the seventh year the award has been given out, typically to one or two individuals or organizations a year. Joining Bunting as past winners are Rich Skovlin, Thomas Price, Maureen Nicholls, Sandra Mather, Rich Hague, Bill Fountain, Randy and Christy Rost, Mary Ellen Gilliland, Tony Harris, the Summit County Government and the town of Breckenridge.
Larissa O’Neil, executive director with the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance, said Bunting was an obvious choice for the honor this year.
“Jim is a quintessential volunteer,” O’Neil said. “He’s very behind the scenes and reserved, and one of those people who doesn’t seek the limelight. He just does stuff when he sees it needs to be done; he doesn’t even ask. So if you show up and something has been taken care of — trash has been picked up, or something has been fixed or repaired — it was probably Jim.”
Bunting, a self-described “army brat,” said he lived all over the world as a child. He served in the army himself for about 2 1/2 years in the early ’70s, which he said helped inspire him to move to Summit County.
“I had gotten into skiing as one of the last things I did in the service, military ski training,” Bunting said. “I thought (moving to Summit) would be a good idea and just never left.”
Today, Bunting is semiretired from a career in the construction industry, though he keeps busy. In his free time, Bunting said he enjoys working with his hands, taking on metal and wood working projects in his garage, and working on his house. And of course, taking part in historical preservation projects.
Most recently, Bunting has used his talents to help with projects at the Breckenridge Sawmill Museum — an attraction that takes guests on self-guided tours of historical frontier equipment used to prepare construction timber — that opened in 2015.
In addition to other efforts, Bunting said he helped to erect the structure the sawmill is housed under, and he is currently working on an old steam engine to get it to run on steam instead of compressed air — a project he hopes to have done this fall.
O’Neil said Bunting’s work doesn’t stop with big projects, and he’s always willing to step in wherever he sees a need.
“He has been involved recently with Breck’s Sawmill Museum and getting that up and running,” O’Neil said. “He’s picked up a lot of trash and made multiple trips to the landfill and the recycling center. And even things like when there was a pack rat inhabiting the exhibit building, he took care of catching it and putting it in a new location. He does all of these things without anyone asking him to do it. … He has done a lot for us over the years.”
While not one to seek attention, Bunting certainly considered being given the Theobald Award an honor.
“As far as the award, I’d like to thank again the Heritage Alliance and the people who thought enough of the work I do to recognize it,” Bunting said.
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