Tales from the Tread: Tour the Crawford House
For 120 years, the historic stone house at 1184 Crawford Ave. has stood on a hill overlooking the town of Steamboat Springs. It is a silent observer of all the change that has taken place throughout time.
Built in 1894, this stately landmark was the home of Steamboat Springs’ founding family, the Crawfords. Now restored to its original condition and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Crawford family and the Tread of Pioneers Museum offer you guided tours of this home on Wednesday. Tours begin on the half hour starting at 1 p.m.; the last tour begins at 2:30 p.m.
When the house was built in 1894, it was the grandest house in town; Steamboat Springs was not yet incorporated and fewer than 3,000 people lived in the entire county.
Careful craftsmanship and the house’s all-stone construction ensured that it was built to last centuries and serves as testament to the permanence of the town of Steamboat Springs.
The house is a rare local example of the Romanesque Revival architecture. This style is common in churches and large institutional buildings built during the last half of the 19th century but was seldom used in single family residences.
Since Steamboat Springs was a two-day ride by stagecoach from the nearest railroad, and even longer by slow-moving freight wagons, most of the house had to be built from local materials. The prominent stone was mined from the local stone quarry at the base of Woodchuck Hill (now the location of Colorado Mountain College) and Quarry Mountain (now called Emerald Mountain).
Mr. Crawford paid the $1,350 bill for masonry on the house with horses. Mason Charles Briggs used Crawford’s horses to haul the stone and when the job was finished, the horses became the property of Briggs. The house also was built with wood from local sawmills and brick from the local brickyard. Just a few items, such as decorative and showcase items like doorknobs and hardware, fireplaces and the carved front door were shipped from Denver.
The stone house is the third and last house of the Crawfords in Steamboat Springs. James Harvey Crawford lived there for 34 years,and his wife, Margaret, for 43 years.
The Crawfords were known for their hospitality, and visitors to Steamboat Springs were always welcome to stay with the generous family.
The house was a well-known gathering place hosting literary guilds, socials, town meetings, parties, weddings, discussion groups, funerals and more. In fact, the Steamboat Pilot reported on July 4, 1930, that the largest number of people ever assembled at a funeral in Steamboat Springs attended the services for James H. Crawford at the Crawford home.
After the Crawfords sold the residence in 1951, four families owned it during the next half-century: the Plutas, DelliQuadris, Jardines and Nettletons. Then as fate would have it, in 2004, James Logan Crawford, James Harvey’s great-grandson, acquired the home with his wife, Anna Fang, and began its careful restoration with the help of local contractor Bill Irvine.
Once the house was restored to its original grandeur, the family has generously partnered with the Tread of Pioneers Museum to share the iconic landmark with the public through open houses, tours and interpretation.
The house serves as a Crawford “museum” with many of the founding family’s artifacts on display, including some of the original Crawford furnishings and decorative items such as the piano, desk-bed, taxidermy, artwork and more.
We hope you will truly take a step back in time and tour the magnificent Crawford house.
Source: “The Crawford House of Steamboat Springs” by James Logan Crawford
Candice Bannister is the executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum.
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