City recommends council order structural assessment of neglected Butterfly Barn |

City recommends council order structural assessment of neglected Butterfly Barn

An aerial photo of Butterfly Barn looks much different today than it did in 1960, when the barn stood as a landmark in mostly empty fields near the base of Mount Werner.
Scott Franz

— The Steamboat Springs City Council could soon take the first step toward saving a historic barn being neglected near the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.

City Attorney Dan Foote will recommend Aug. 23 that the council ask property owners of the Wildhorse Meadows Subdivision to obtain a structural assessment of Butterfly Barn’s condition.

The council will also decide whether to enforce development permit conditions that required certain property owners to maintain the iconic structure.

But the question of who is responsible for maintaining the barn has been complicated by foreclosures, which resulted in the property the barn occupies changing hands in recent years.

Foote will walk the council through the complicated legal landscape surrounding the barn.

He said it isn’t currently clear what maintenance or stabilization the barn might require.

The Arnold family constructed the Butterfly Barn in 1945, near the current Meadows Parking Lot.

It was originally used to store hay and livestock.

The barn also later became a storage shed for the Steamboat Ski Area and was used as a western backdrop for photo shoots promoting the resort.

But the barn is currently suffering a very different fate from the more-famous More Barn, which was preserved in what is now Barn Village.

Now neglected, Butterfly Barn is littered with cans, a shopping cart and other items.

There are also visible signs its condition is growing worse.

“There’s a concept called demolition by neglect, and I think that is what we’re seeing underway here,” historic preservationist Arianthe Stettner recently told Steamboat Pilot & Today. “I think some people are hoping if we wait long enough (and it falls down), it’s not our problem.”

Stettner, who recently dug up all the history on the barn, plans to attend City Council’s discussion about its future.

Council President Walter Magill has expressed concern about the barn’s condition and asked city staff to look into who should be maintaining it.

The council was scheduled to have the barn discussion Aug. 2, but tabled the item due to time constraints.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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