Home gets historic designation

Ghost stories bring amusement to commission audience

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— In considering the latest old home to be named to the Routt County Register of Historic Properties, county commissioners asked the current owner of the old Norvell home about possible ghosts in her house.

Laura Craig had a rapt audience as she told a story of her first "encounter."

"I did think there was a ghost in the house," she told the commissioners.

"I was doing laundry in the basement and I went down there and turned the light on, and the washer started going in mid-cycle."

Craig definitely had the small audience's attention.

"But it turned out the light switch was kind of funky," she said in response to laughter and little groans.

The old Norvell home at 204 Hill Street may not be haunted, but the county commissioners saw enough history in the Steamboat Springs home to go ahead and designate it as an historic sight.

The 1910 home still has its original floors and staircase, and was nominated as being "an excellent local example of the bungalow style of architecture built in the craftsman tradition."

The application also said the Norvell-Craig house "exemplifies the development and heritage of Routt County," having been associated with the county's first entrepreneur and developer, James Lafayette Norvell.

Norvell helped develop parts of Steamboat, Yampa, Hayden and Craig. He did everything from ranching and cattle buying to owning a stage line.

He eventually gained fame statewide as the "preacher cowboy" after finding religion and traveling through the region to spread the word.

Norvell and his second wife raised six children in Steamboat Springs before moving to CaCity in 1928 where he died during the same year.

As for the home's significant characteristics, the application talked about its "gabled roof with wide, over-hanging eaves, dormers, decorative shingling in the upper portion and full porch with square column." It was a popular form of craftsman architecture popular in Steamboat during the 1910s and 1920s.

Craig told the county commissioners that some of the home's past residents have showed an interest in its historical preservation, sometimes showing up at the door to hear the latest.

"It's okay, just as long as Norvell doesn't come back," said Commissioner Doug Monger.

After the laughter, the commissioners gave the final approval.

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