Historic Steamboat park building could be transformed into events space or educational site
On its 100-year anniversary, what has long been used as storage for Steamboat Parks and Recreation in Little Toots Park in downtown Steamboat Springs could be restored into a community events center or historical education site.
Brian Ashley, facilities and emergency management director for the city of Steamboat Springs, said the total project of restoring the Historic Community House will cost about $293,000 — funded partly by grants and the city’s general fund.
The city has already applied for a $220,782 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund, a project from History Colorado. Grant winners are to be announced in November.
Ginger Scott, grants and project management specialist, said the project comes as a result of a study the city completed in 2010 identifying critical needs in historical facilities. Because of budget constraints over the past decade, the city has not been able to put real improvements into the building, so most work has focused around keeping the structure afloat and preventing further deterioration.
“It’s had such a great history, and we’re trying to get it back to its community roots that it was a long time ago,” said Erica Hewitt, historic preservation consultant to the city. “The goal is just to help restore and rehabilitate the building back to what it was.”
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Hewitt, along with Historic Routt County Executive Director Emily Katzman, said she encourages residents and visitors to remember the building’s historical origin.
When it was first built in 1921, the building was located in what is now Dream Island Plaza and was used as a welcome area for visitors camping or picnicking in the area. In 1939, the building was moved to its current location in Little Toots Park and was used for meetings, community gatherings and later as a kids’ summer day camp site. The Women’s Club of Steamboat Springs hosted most of the events and did much of the work around the building.
“It’s also representative of our community’s ongoing commitment to supporting outdoor recreation and tourism — even 100 years ago,” Katzman said.
As for what the building could be in the future, Scott said specific uses have not yet been worked out, but the city is considering a historical education site for visitors, a rentable spot for events or a community gathering area.
“It’s such a popular park and location in downtown that I think it could be a great place to do some kind of education on historic preservation and somehow incorporate that into the building,” Scott said. “It’s important in that way to just help us preserve a little bit of our history of Steamboat Springs and the buildings that were built at that time.”
While the actual use is still undecided, Hewitt said the city hopes to restore some of the interior detailing to resemble the original building.
“The goal is just to help restore and rehab the building back to what it was,” Hewitt said. “All of this crazy, cool detailing that was missing, we want to put back on as well.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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