Buildings earn status as historical landmarks

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— Four buildings were added to the Routt County Register of Historic Places, which means tax breaks and grant opportunities for the owners.

The Routt County Courthouse, St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Ralph Drake/Photo Express home are the newest buildings in Steamboat Springs to earn a historic plaque. The old Oak Creek Union High School, now known as Soroco Middle School, is Oak Creek's newest historical site.

The designation comes just in time for Oak Creek's middle school, which was built in 1923. School officials say it needs to be renovated.

"They're now eligible to compete for grant funds to restore the building," Historic Preservation Specialist Laureen Schaffer said.

The same architect who designed the middle school also did the Routt County Courthouse.

"Robert Fuller was a very famous Colorado architect," Schaffer said. "He did a lot around the state courthouses, high schools."

The Routt County Courthouse's architectural style is a "simplified renaissance revival building with beaux-arts influences," Schaffer said. To the average person, that means it emphasizes the use of columns, decorative garlands and floral patterns.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church was also added to the historical list despite some previous misgivings because of some remodeling in the '50s.

Schaffer said the church was built in 1913 by a significant local stone mason named Art Gumprecht, who influenced the development of Routt County.

A new addition is being built to the quaint, stone church. Incredibly, the church managed to get its hands on some old sandstone from the same quarry from which its original 25-by-33-foot church was built.

The stone came from the Utterback home, which was moved from its original site near the courthouse.

"We went down there and collected all that foundation stone and stockpiled it so we could have it," said architect Robert S. Ralston, who is also a church member.

The stone will be used for the new tower and the part of the new building facing Oak Street.

"The existing church is much loved by the parish and others in Steamboat," architect Arthur Andersson said. "We didn't want to do anything to overwhelm it or diminish it in any way."

Finally, the Photo Express Home, built in 1918 by Ralph Drake, was chosen for its "textbook example of a bungalow or a craftsman-style home," Schaffer said.

"There are quite a few bungalows in Steamboat, but this one is special in that it maintains the integrity, and you can look at it and see most of the original features on the house."

The home, now Photo Express, has original woodwork and doors on the inside, and the windows have the old multiple panes on the top and one big pane on the bottom.

It also has an old cobblestone foundation with wood siding and stucco on the upper portion with decorative half-timbering, Schaffer said.

Commissioner Ben Beall reminds people that the historical buildings approved by the Routt County Board of Commissioners Monday had stonework that came from local quarries.

"All this is our cobble," Beall said proudly.

To reach Frances Hohl call 871-4208

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