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Summit Historical Society to honor local women at annual luncheon

The society is honoring Maureen Sloan Nicholls, who has dedicated her life to preserving history in Summit County.

Maureen Nicholls is pictured with her husband, Jim, in 1999. The Summit Historical Society is honoring Nicholls for her contributions to the Summit County community.
Bob Winsett/Courtesy photo

If you ask her friends, Maureen Sloan Nicholls encompasses what it means to be a Breckenridge local.

In the 1960s and ’70s, she watched as the town transformed from a small mining village to the home of a world-renowned ski resort and travel destination. Throughout it all, she was there to preserve the town’s history and ensure that Breckenridge maintained its mining roots.

On March 12, she will be honored as one of the Summit Historical Society’s Women of Distinction at a luncheon event. The society is hosting the luncheon to celebrate Women’s History Month, which takes place throughout March.



Since 2019, the organization has been honoring “women of distinction,” which includes one woman who represents “then,” Summit County’s past, and another who represents “now,” Summit County today.

Anna Ballif Emore, who was one of the founding members of the historical society, is the “then” recipient. The society chose Nicholls, who currently lives in Breckenridge, as its “now” recipient because of her dedication to preserving Summit County’s history. The two women knew each other from the mid-1960s to Emore’s death in 1974.



When Nicholls arrived to Breckenridge in the 1960s, she was one of a few hundred residents. She worked as a ski patroller and met her husband, Jim, who was a ski instructor at the time. Later, she became a history teacher and opened her store, Quandary Antiques, in downtown Breckenridge.

At the same time, Nicholls became involved with the historical society. She spent her nights and weekends cataloging photographs and artifacts to help preserve the community’s history. She worked with Emore to move the Old Dillon Schoolhouse to its current location on La Bonte Street so it wouldn’t be destroyed in the construction of the Dillon Dam.

Anna Ballif Emore is one of two women who will be honored at the Summit Historical Society's Women of Distinction Event.
Marcella Emore Maray/Courtesy photo

The schoolhouse later became home to the historical society, where Nicholls would bring her three daughters while she worked a few days a week.

“I had three little girls, and they came with me, and they still say they were raised at the Summit Historical Society,” Nicholls said.

The society’s Executive Director Sally Queen said it felt right to honor Nicholls’ because of her contributions to preserving history in Summit County. Through her antique store, Nicholls was able to find and share artifacts that tell the story of mining communities and skiing pioneers.

“If she had not preserved many of these photographs, they would be gone,” Queen said. “They would be in trash cans as people and families cleaned out their houses, but she valued them.”

CJ Milmoe, a Breckenridge resident, has known Nicholls since he first moved to the area in 2014. They developed a fast friendship as Nicholls told Milmoe stories about Breckenridge in the ’60s and ’70s.

“She really loves the town,” Milmoe said. “She helped to build the new town, but her heart is in the preservation of the old town.”

Maureen Nicholls is pictured at her antique store, Quandary Antiques, in 1999.
Bob Winsett/Courtesy photo

In addition her work preserving history in Summit County, Nicholls represents a generation of women who fought against gender inequality and pursued their own interests and careers. Nicholls said she’s proud of how far women have come since she first moved to Summit County.

“The women now are being more aggressive and getting out and getting into positions,” she said. “A lot of women are voted in, they’re carrying a lot of jobs and a lot of work here in Breckenridge and in Summit County.”

The luncheon to celebrate Nicholls and Emore will start at noon March 12 at the Dillon Community Church. Queen said the goal is to thank Nicholls for her work in the community and listen to her stories of the past.

“It’s our way of celebrating the women’s contribution in a way that helps us all feel inspired,” Queen said.

In addition to presentations about Nicholls and Emore, the event will feature Jenn Shimp as a speaker, who will be performing as Diamond Dixie, an 1800s dance hall girl. Tickets to the event are $35 and go directly to the historical society. People can reserve a spot through Friday, March 4, by visiting SummitHistorical.org/upcoming-events.

Nicholls said she’s looking forward to speaking at the event and being honored by the society.

Maureen Nicholls and her husband, Jim, are pictured skiing at Breckenridge in 1966.
Bob Winsett/Courtesy photo

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