Lockhart building torn down

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A Lincoln Avenue landmark disappeared from the scene Tuesday when the Lockhart Auction & Realty building was torn down.

The East Routt Library District purchased the .234-acre site for $500,000 for possible expansion of its facilities.

The building, with its false Western front and hitching rails, was intended to look like a period stage stop, Jo Lockhart said.

Her grandfather Si Lockhart and uncle Darwin Lockhart, both deceased, erected the building in about 1971, but never intended for it to be permanent, Jo Lockhart said. Before they could act on a permanent home for their office, Darwin was diagnosed with emphysema. He died in 1975 at the age of 42.

Darwin's daughter, Jill Montieth, said Tuesday that the death of her father had a lasting effect on her grandfather, Si.

"Si lived 14 years after my dad died and never really recovered," Jill said.

Si Lockhart came to Steamboat Springs in the 1940s to auction ranches during tough times. He was a versatile and capable man who was an experienced teamster and did his own blacksmithing. He rented riding horses from his home, which was a block away from the building torn down this week. Jo recalled that he broke and gentled horses right in the yard of their home at the corner of 11th Street and Yampa Avenue.

Si and Darwin were well-known local figures. Montieth said her father was an exceptional horseman and rodeo cowboy.

"He won both the saddle bronc and bareback bronc riding championships at the Routt County Fair two years in a row," Montieth said. "He used to ride into the rodeo arena Greco-Roman style," standing with one foot on the back of two different horses and the reins of a third horse clutched in his fist.

Later, Darwin served as the rodeo announcer and never failed to make an impression with his reading of the Cowboy's Prayer.

Si Lockhart cut a memorable figure during the Fourth of July parades, wearing a formal black coat and top hat while driving a team of horses pulling a wagon or carriage.

His people skills served in the auction business and in real estate transactions.

"We were dirt poor and land rich," Jo said with a laugh.

Si Lockhart observed a tradition when conducting farm and ranch auctions, she said.

"I remember he used to auction all day long, and the last thing to go would always be the milk stool, because he was sitting on it," Montieth said.

Jo Lockhart said library director Chris Painter has been good to work with during the property sale and transition. The sale contract allowed the family to remove some personal treasures from the structure, including the sign on the front of the building.

Painter said that after a heavy snowstorm last April, a tree branch fell on the roof and smashed it, cracking some windows in the process.

"We felt it had become a liability," Painter said.

A small single-family home on the lot remains in good condition, Painter said. Beginning next week, the library will use the home as interim work and storage space.

When the Western false front and roof of Lockhart Auction & Realty were torn away by heavy equipment Tuesday, a green mobile home was revealed inside the wooden framework.

Si and Darwin Lockhart never realized their permanent plans for the small parcel of land on Lincoln Avenue next to Soda Creek. But the colorful lives they led will remain a part of Steamboat history.

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