Architecturally Aspen

I knew Aspen was originally a historic mining town and the adorable Victorian cottages were de riguer at the turn of the century.  I knew Jerome Wheeler settled here in 1883 after the nomadic Ute Indians moved on ~ they believed that movement was life.  What I didn't know was Mr. Wheeler (of the Macy's family fortune) settled here and invested heavily in the Aspen silver ore mining business. 

The town was so isolated there was no way to get the ore out, so Jerome was instrumental in bringing a railroad to town.  That solved the problem so well in fact that a second railroad came in and this little town was booming.  Women and families followed.  They say women bring civility.  Aspen became a very desirable, albeit a hard to reach destination.  It still is, but that's what makes it so special!

Prefab homes from kits from places like the Sears catalog and Pan Abode were pretty standard and efficient.  When men came into money they would add on a porch or bay window here, fish scale trim there.  The homes grew as the families' wealth did.

I love the original carriage stones.  Women would step on them to help lift themselves into carriages.  It is common to see hitching posts and old fashioned boot cleaners.

Subdued color schemes became popular and landscapers were soon picking up on the trend.  The colors of the home were repeated in the planting material to balance out the alpine landscaping.  Now we tend to see rock gardens and cottage style plantings bursting with many diverse blooms.

Life was good in Aspen till the panic of 1893.  The silver economy collapsed.  Ranching and farming  became the new normal.  People were happy, though.  The town needed to reinvent itself.  With a fresh infusion of money, skiing and snow sports became the next natural viable way to attract people to Aspen.  Elizabeth Paecpke persuaded her husband Walter to invest in the cultural ideas of the time and bring thought leaders to the valley.  Aspen has respected world class culture and art programs that are globally recognized.

The ski company was formed in 1946 and once again Aspen's population began growing like crazy. Brick mansions were springing up along side the Victorians and US Grant style homes.  Larger Victorians remained popular but bigger soon became better and controls and restrictions on growth and development needed to be put in place residentially and commercially.

To stop the creation of "new Vics" or faux Victorians, the historic Victorian homes must adhere to a strict code of building additions that are contrasting in architecture.  Often the additions were 3 to 4 times the size.  You can clearly see the original home and clearly see the addition. 

"Peach blow" sand stone from the quarries in Basalt (the town next to Aspen) brought over on the railroad were used for the home foundations back then.  Today you can tell if a home (or part of a home) is an Aspen original if you can see the peach blow stone foundation of days of old.

This house is presently getting a little face lift.  It is not unusual to see original homes that may be, shall we say, " little off balance." I have talked to people who seem to either love it or hate it but...

that's what makes this small town so charming and endlessly fascinating!!


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