Crossan’s M&A Market in Yampa holds grand opening after 5 years of restoration work
YAMPA — Following a 12-year journey to restore a piece of history to its former glory, the town of Yampa celebrated the official grand opening and dedication ceremony of Crossan’s M&A Market on Friday.
Constructed during the building boom of 1903 in anticipation of the Moffat Line — the first railroad to make it to Northwest Colorado — the market was a center for purchasing necessities and a hub of community activity until it closed in 1964.
Since then it sat, frozen in time, until the town purchased the building in 2006.
• Sept. 14, 2018: Restored market holds grand opening
• Nov. 20, 3013: Restoration work begins
• Oct. 15, 2013: Historic Routt County joins preservation effort
• Feb. 12, 2013: Market added to National Register of Historic Places
• Feb. 2, 2012: Colorado Preservation names market among Most Endangered Places
• June 18, 2011: Friends of Crossan’s group forms
• March 30, 2008: Market added to Routt County Register of Historic Properties
• Oct. 6, 2006: Town of Yampa to buy historic market
By that time, the building, located on Yampa’s Main Street, was in such rough shape it was highly debatable whether it was worth saving.
“I thought it would take three years and $700,000,” said Noreen Moore, who is described as the “heart and soul” of the project.
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An interminable force, Moore headed the Friends of Crossan’s organization formed in 2011 to fundraise and take charge of the historic renovation.
It ended up taking 12 years and $1.3 million, along with countless obstacles, detours and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
Historic Routt County Executive Director Emily Katzman praised the committed partnership between volunteers, government, nonprofits, and private donors.
Moore is quick to share credit with her fellow Friends of Crossan’s board members and “all the people who came in and saved us,” over the years.
“These people here,” Moore said, through tears, gesturing to the 11 board members standing to either side, “are what made this happen. All I saw was a building that was going to fall down.”
The project was entirely funded by grants, donations and fundraising. Many years ago, Moore said, at the beginning of the process, they estimated volunteer hours at 6,000. It would be impossible to count the contribution over 12 years, she said.
While initial fundraising efforts started with selling burritos, Moore was eventually able to recruit Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters for three benefit concerts.
“Selling burritos, we were lucky to get $600,” Moore said. “Then Todd gets on stage and in one hour raises over $30,000. We figured that one out quick.”
The building represents an “authentic, visible, tangible, accessible” sense of the past, said Anne McCleave of the History Colorado State Historical Fund.
Friday’s dedication ceremony was well-attended, with a number of people traveling from other parts of the country. Also in attendance were two members of the Crossan family, Carol Loeffler and her brother Chuck Crossan. Their father and grandfather ran the store, and they talked about childhood memories spent eating penny candy and banana-sicles and hiding under the bread counter.
“My dad died in July,” Loeffler told the crowd. “But he got to see this, and it means so much to our family.”
Crossan choked up as he spoke.
“I cannot express how proud and honored we are to have our name on this building,” he said.
While the downstairs of the building opened to the public last winter, the upstairs, along with the ADA-compliant elevator, was just completed.
The building, still owned by the town, is now the official Yampa Town Hall and visitors center, as well as home to the Yampa-Egeria Historical Society extension, which includes rotating museum exhibits in a genealogy and research center. It will also provide space for the Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Program, Flattops Scenic Byway and the South Routt Economic Development Center.
The building is once again a community hub and a public space available for yoga classes, pinochle games, visits from Santa Claus and civic group meetings.
“It’s a new chapter for the town of Yampa,” said Mayor Aaron Symons.
It’s also a testament, he said to what a volunteers can accomplish, and it’s home to the only elevator in South Routt.
“To see it alive again, it’s fantastic,” said Ellen Bonnifield, who has lived in Yampa for close to 50 years and worried she would see the building crumble to the ground. “It’s a vital part of the community. And besides that, it’s gorgeous.”
District 1 County Commissioner Tim Corrigan talked about the long span of efforts to keep the open space around Yampa looking “a lot like it did 100 years ago,” and honoring the rural heritage and roots in agriculture.
“Small towns are the future of Routt County, for places where people want to live and visit,” Corrigan said. “And this building and the way it was built, may be central to the future of Routt County.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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