Steamboat groups ready for Historic Preservation Month

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Some of the best storytellers along Lincoln Avenue have never spoken a word.

They stand still and let the bricks, door arches and architecture do the talking.

For Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner, preserving Steamboat's downtown buildings is a way to preserve the city's heritage. And, for those who look closely, the buildings tell of different times, people and struggles.

"You see the different stories and look at what the items used to be. You see the buildings and storefronts in a different dimension," Stettner said.

Stettner is part of Historic Routt County, one of the groups that is celebrating May as Historic Preservation Month.

National Historic Preservation Week runs from May 12 to 18. In Colorado, May is Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month. Next week, the city and county celebration swings into high gear.

Historic Routt County will hold a workshop on what property owners should know about getting their properties listed on the Routt County Register of Historic Places. The organization also will hold its annual awards banquet.

On May 31, the city will host a walking tour through downtown Steamboat to share information on some of the area's historic buildings.

More historic preservation projects have been done in Routt County than any other county in the state, except for Denver, Stettner said.

The buildings that have been preserved are as diverse as the Routt County National Bank, at the corner of Eighth Street and Lincoln Avenue, to barns on the Delaney Ranch.

"It is not like we need to save every single one," Stettner said. "We save the ones that tell the story best. Something to remember and learn from."

On Thursday, Historic Routt County and its co-sponsor, the State Historical Fund, will take property owners through the process of nominating a property to the Routt County Register of Historic Places. Owning a property with a historic designation can provide economic incentives including tax credits for repairs and renovations.

The workshop is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

On Friday, Historic Routt County will honor property owners who received historic designations. It also will honor an individual and an organization -- to be revealed Friday -- that have helped with preservation efforts in the county.

The property owners will receive plaques that designate their homes as being on the historic register.

The log house and cabin where Steamboat author Jim Burrows wrote his book, "Where the Old West Stayed Young," has been given historic designation. The Ramshorn Ranch south of Hayden is being honored along with the Harmony Ranch on Twentymile Road and the Catamount Ranch on U.S. Highway 40.

A snapshot of what has been preserved will be given during the city's historic walking tour May 31.

Jerry Nettleton, who sits on the city's Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, said the tour is tentatively set to begin at the Routt County Courthouse and take walkers past historic buildings along Lincoln Avenue.

Nettleton said the city is working to incorporate the "We're Not Clowns" juggling and comedy troupe into the walking tour to add some humor.

The tour will then go to the city's Centennial Hall, which incorporated the Carver Power Plant into its design, and will end at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, where the Utterback House has been preserved.

Nettleton sees history being made through people, places and events. Most of the people that shape history are gone, and the events themselves have long since past, Nettleton said, but places can stay intact.

"Places are the one thing we can do to preserve our heritage," Nettleton said. "If we demolish them, it is a loss for everyone. People and events still have stories. Once places are gone, they are gone forever."

Editor's Note: This is the first story in a three-part series in honor of Historic Preservation Month. The series will appear Saturdays.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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