Soroco Middle School gets historic designation

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— The Soroco Middle School celebrated being put on the Routt County Register of Historic Places with seventh-graders presenting historical research projects at a plaque-presentation ceremony last week.

The building was officially put on the register in August.

"The kids worked their tails off on these projects," Principal James Chamberlain said.

About 15 groups of seventh-graders displayed historic facts and folklore about buildings in south Routt on Nov. 2 in the middle school gym.

One of the most interesting displays was about the former Midland Hotel in Oak Creek done by Corey Buck and Mike Redmond.

As the story goes, the Midland Hotel, which is one of the first building travelers see when they drive south into town, is haunted. It was one of Oak Creek's various brothels at the height of the mining days of the early 1900s.

One of the women who worked there apparently was married to a young bartender who was employed in the bar at the hotel.

She found out that he had cheated on her, and in a jealous rage, shot him dead as he stood behind the bar.

The legend says that after the woman died years later, she returned to the building to walk the halls in jealousy. They say she is sometimes seen standing in the upstairs window.

After the students showed off their displays, Nancy Stahoviak, a county commissioner, and Steamboat Springs grants analyst Winnie DelliQuadri presented the school with a plaque acknowledging the historic designation.

The middle school got on the register for its unique building style and for its colorful history.

It was built in 1923 on top of the plumbing infrastructure left by the U.S. Cavalry.

The troops came to Oak Creek and declared military rule in 1910 to suppress a violent mining strike. They set up a permanent camp on the hill. The camp even had plumbing. When military rule was lifted and the troops left in 1917, town officials decided that the spot and plumbing utilities would be the perfect place for a much-needed high school that would serve Oak Creek.

Nearly 80 years later the building is still being used as a school and the plumbing still works. However, as South Routt School District Superintendent Steve Jones pointed out, the building needs work.

Using the historic register designation, the district was able to apply for a $400,000 grant from the Colorado State Historic Society to pay for a historic refurbishing of the building.

That includes a needed refinishing of the building's stucco to its original style and replacing the doors and windows with replicas from the 1920s.

"We'll be bringing the building back to 1925, the way it was originally finished," Jones said.

The only string attached to the deal is that the district will have to come up with matching funds to get the grant.

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