Modernization under way at historic Steamboat museum |

Modernization under way at historic Steamboat museum

Tom Ross
Crews work Monday morning on the building that will soon house some of Tread of Pioneers Museum's most valuable historic artifacts.
Tom Ross

— Crews from Duckels Construction are at work on the first phase of a new addition to Tread of Pioneers Museum at the intersection of Oak and Eighth streets in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The 4,280-square-foot addition will add new exhibit space, but the primary purpose is to create secure, climate-controlled space for the museum’s collection of artifacts and documents that tell the story of the area’s pioneer days. That collection includes a treasure trove of ski history.

The cost of the addition will exceed $1 million. The general contractor is Steamboat-based Holmquist Lorenz Construction Co.

“We’re still fundraising. If you’ve ever built anything, you know how (the cost) grows,” museum Director Candice Bannister told an audience of about 30 people during a Friday presentation on historic ranching at the museum. “It’s probably the last big project the museum will do for 20 to 30 years.”

The building is due to be completed by Nov. 1, Bannister said, but it will take several more months for museum staff to return the collections to their new building as well as to undertake a phased completion of new exhibits that will take advantage of additional public space at the museum.

Bannister said the museum board takes pride in the fact that more than a dozen local subcontractors are signed up to work on the project.

“In these economic times, we wanted to make that a priority,” Bannister said. “Because so many community organizations have given us their support, we are using local contractors whenever possible.”

The new building replaces an old home on Eighth Street where curator Katie Adams has prepared new exhibits from the collection. However, storage conditions in the house, with its hot attic, leaky basement and shelving made of particle board, are inadequate for protecting the artifacts, Adams said.

The new building will have a mechanical lift to allow safely moving large objects from the flood-safe basement to the second floor. And there is a fire wall between the addition and the adjacent older buildings.

Architect Eric Smith has designed the addition to complement the two existing period homes that currently make up the museum. The addition will be attached to the rest of the museum by a flat-roofed building that will afford an additional 500 square feet of exhibit space. Adams said it would better enable her to design exhibits that flow through the building.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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