Shamus renovation reveals surprises |

Shamus renovation reveals surprises

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – The building that housed Shamus O’Toole’s Roadhouse Saloon for a quarter century has divulged many surprises during its gutting and renovation this spring.

The bar, once popular among bikers and misfits, is nothing more than a shell today, supported by a metal frame – and not much more.

“The biggest surprise as we demolished the interior was the floors,” said Breckenridge Town Engineer Eric Guth. “There’s the concrete slab throughout, then there’s brick (in the bar), the wood dance floor, a carpeted area (along the north side) and and indoor-outdoor carpet on the stage.”

Guth said the building used to be an auto shop, and pointed out framing that indicated overhead doors once stood where the east and south side entrances are today. There’s rumored to be a lift buried in the floor, as well, he said.

Guth said he also was surprised to find that, once the walls were removed, there was no insulation in the walls – or framing, called perlins – to which walls are typically attached. Even the south windows weren’t framed correctly, but appeared as if they’d been bolted to the foundation and leaned against the wall.

“It was really interesting to find out that none of the internal walls were bolted into the floor,” said Jeremy Cole, artistic director for the Backstage Theatre. “We were thinking it would be really difficult to pull bolts out of the concrete, but we just yanked them out and they fell over.”

The building was purchased by the town of Breckenridge in September for $1.037 million, and is being renovated to serve as a base for the Backstage Theatre and other nonprofit organizations. The town is responsible for gutting the interior of the building and bringing the electrical, plumbing, ventilation and heating systems up to code. It then will install restrooms, a slate or tile floor in what is to be the lobby and possibly carpet in the theater.

The exterior, which features double doors, windows, a wooden false-front and wooden lap siding, will retain its “rustic” character. Workers, however, must fill holes in the exterior siding, remove mechanical apparatus from the ceiling and make repairs throughout. Minor repairs must be made to the roof, and it has yet to be decided if the southwest windows will remain.

Cole said he would like to make improvements as money becomes available. Some of those could involve signs, improving the front doors and facade and building a projection booth.

After the building is renovated and repaired, the shell will be turned over to the Backstage Theatre which, with the help of architects, will install up to 121 seats and build a stage.

It’s a long way before that will happen, although the project is still expected to be completed in August.

Many who peek in the window have told Cole they were surprised to learn the building is a metal structure, more like a commercial building than one made for a saloon.

The upstairs, formerly used as an office, had layer upon layer of carpet on its floor; the bathrooms downstairs were likewise layered with plywood and linoleum.

“It’s amazing,” Guth said, comparing the difference between the bar of lore and the shell the building is today. “Amazing.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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