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Historical Perspective of Telluride, Colorado

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NEW!  Telluride Historical Radio at www.telluridehistoricalradio.com

San Miguel County Courthouse
In 1885 a courthouse building was erected across from the post office on West Colorado Avenue. This building burned shortly after construction, but the bricks were saved and used to build the present courthouse two years later on the corner of Colorado Avenue and Oak Street. It is still used today.
New Sheridan Hotel & Opera House
This famous Telluride landmark was built in 1895. For fine dining, the Continental Room had 16 velvet-curtained booths, each equipped with phones so diners could call for service and not be frequently interrupted by waiters. The Sheridan Bar remains much the same with its cherrywood bar imported from Austria. William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech on a platform in front of the Sheridan. The Opera House, an exquisite theater with a Venetian scene painted on its roll curtain by J. Erickson, was added in 1914. Today the opera house, hotel and restaurant are still welcoming guests.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
This church was built in the neighborhood of Catholic Hill in 1896 at a cost of $4,800 and by 1899 had 200 members. The wooden figures of the Stations of the Cross were carved in the Tyrol of Austria. In 1996 the church celebrated its centennial.
Roma Bar
One of Telluride’s oldest bars contains its finest period piece—an 1860 Brunswick-Balke-Collener Company bar of carved walnut, with exquisite and valuable 12-foot French mirrors on the back bar. The Roma was one of the wildest and most raucous saloons in town. It was renovated in 1983.
Old Waggoner House
Charles Waggoner, president of the Bank of Telluride (yellow brick building with pillars on main street), contrived an amazing scheme to save his bank and pay off depositors in the Crash of 1929. Most Telluride depositors were eventually paid and the New York banks were the losers. Waggoner testified in court, “I would rather see the New York banks lose money than the people of Telluride, most of whom have worked all their lives for the savings that were deposited in my bank.” Waggoner was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but was paroled after three years. He never returned to Telluride. Later tenants included the Goldsworthy family from 1932-1988. George Goldsworthy, born in Rico, Colorado, moved to Telluride at age 6. He grew up to be an astute businessman and operated the City Bakery and the City Grocery in the present Telluride Trappings and Toggery building. George and his wife, Bessie, raised 10 children in this house.
Town Hall
On the corner of Fir Street and Columbia Avenue is Telluride’s first schoolhouse. This one-room building was built in 1883 for the sum of $3,000. The first class held there had 53 students and one teacher. After a new school had been built, the town offices occupied the building. The tower for drying fire hoses was added at that time.
Telluride Historical Museum
An amazing collection of photographs and artifacts reconstruct the colorful days of Telluride’s mining past. The building itself was built in 1895 by Dr. Hall and served as a hospital for the miners, townspeople and county poor. Recently renovated, it is now open to the public.
North Oak House
Built in 1900, this house was a survivor of the 1914 flood. A spring cloudburst caused the usually gentle Cornet Creek to turn into a torrent of mud and rocks that swept through town, depositing five feet of mud and debris from the Liberty Bell Mine right down to Colorado Avenue. One woman was killed and the Sheridan Bar was filled with mud halfway to the ceiling. This house has been completely restored to its original condition, enabling it to be on the National Register of Historic Homes.
Davis House
This stately brick house was built by E. L. Davis in 1894. Davis was a mining and real estate entrepreneur, owner of the Mayflower, Nellie and Etta gold mines in the Ingram-Bridal Veil Basin and Bear Creek area. He owned all the land where the Rio Grande Southern Train Depot now stands, as well as one-third interest in “West Telluride.” Davis sought to bring business to the town as Vice-President of the Telluride Board of Trade. After Davis’ death, the house was sold to Dr. Oshner, who used it as a hospital, particularly during the 1918 flu epidemic. The house was renovated in 1983.
L.L. Nunn House
On the corner of Aspen Street and West Columbia is L.L. Nunn’s house, built in 1887 and extensively remodeled in 1980. The white Victorian next door was bought by Nunn for use as his Telluride Institute, where “pinheads” from Cornell University came to expand their knowledge of the production of power. Today Cornell University has a “Telluride House” funded by Nunn’s estate.
Rio Grande Southern Railway Depot
This area was a bustling, noisy, and exciting part of town after the railroad reached Telluride in 1891. The depot was surrounded by boardinghouses and warehouses, some of which are still standing on San Juan Avenue. In 1991, the depot was renovated and is now a restaurant.
Finn Town
Heading east, stroll past Finn Town. On the south side of the street is Finn Town Flats, originally a boardinghouse, Finn Hall (grey), and the smaller Swede-Finn Hall (pictured), now a bar and restaurant, on the corner. The two halls were the center of social life. During parties and get-togethers, each family brought food, the band played and the people danced and socialized. Continuing east, detour up South Oak Street past the Dahl House, a miner’s rooming house built in the 1890s, now Fat Alley BBQ.
Popcorn Alley
Back on Pacific Street, The Senate, the Silver Bell, the Cribs and the madam’s stone residence in the back make up the restored buildings of the “sporting district.” The Senate was one of the many “female boarding houses” that was bustling with business between the 1880s and 1930s. The old Senate closed in 1935. The Silver Bell, built in 1890, suffered a disastrous fire in 1923. It operated as one of Telluride’s many “soda parlours” during Prohibition and its numerous outside entrances hint at the other services offered. It closed in 1959 and was faithfully restored in 1991 as the Ah Haa School for the Arts. The three simple Victorian houses standing in a row on Pacific Street, known as the Cribs, are all that remain of the similar structures that lined both sides of the street all the way to the edge of Town Park. The Telluride Housing Authority saved these last houses by renovating them in 1983.
The Pekkarine Building
This is one of Telluride’s oldest main street buildings. Mr. Pekkarine immigrated to the United States from Finland, opened a boot shop in the basement of this brick building, and on the second floor he later operated a mercantile store. The Pekkarines lived on the third floor. At the settling of the Pekkarine estate in 1974, valued turn-of-the-century artifacts were donated to the Telluride Historical Museum. Today, local shops occupy the street level of this building.
Old Town Jail
This stone jail is thought to have been built in 1885 by a livery stable owner. It was previously occupied by the Wilkinson Public Library. The original wooden jail was built in 1878 and is now located in Town Park.

Miner's Union
Built by "Western Federation of Mines" in 1901 as a hospital. After only two years of operation it closed because of labor strikes resulting in the mobilization of the Colorado National Guard to restore order.

Lone Tree Cemetery
A beautiful old cemetery located east of town.

Telluride Elementary School
When it was built in 1895, this building was considered to be the most modern of educational facilities. Completely renovated in 1986.

Galloping Goose
Curious combination of auto and train parts
that rode Otto Mears's famous railroad line in the declining years of the Rio Grande Southern.



Butch Cassidy Robbery Site
Butch and "The Wild Bunch" robbed the San Miguel Valley Bank in 1889. The old bank burned and was replaced by the Mahr Building in 1892.

Pick & Gad
"Parlour House" in Telluride's red-light district.
Patrons were treated to an evening of music, food, wine and ladies.

Penn Tram Towers
At the turn of the century, the east end of the canyon was laced with the cables of aerial trams lowering ore from the mines to mills in the valley below. These two towers are from the Pennsylvania MineÕs tram line.

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