Hayden It has been 43 years since a baby was born at the Solandt Memorial Hospital in Hayden, but the 88-year-old building has new life this month in the form of a place in the National Register of Historic Places and a $35,000 grant from the Colorado State Historical Society that will be used for renovations this fall.
The town of Hayden last month learned the hospital, which now houses health and dental clinics, was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties for its contribution to the heritage of Colorado.
Once the only hospital in Northwest Colorado, the building ceased its full hospital operations in the late 1960s.
Hospital district board member Judy Green said Monday that the distinctions would help secure more grants for the building, now in need of major repairs and renovations.
“The recognition is a considerable bonus to the hospital as we continue to restore it,” she said. “It also confirms the commitment to keep medical services in our community.”
Green said as early as this fall, funds from the grant would be used to restore the original woodwork on the first story waiting room and to convert an old X-ray room into a doctor’s consultation room. She said the board still is in the process of raising more money that will be used to renovate a dentist’s office on the building’s second floor.
Board President Kathy Hockin said the group has raised more than $500,000 of their $750,000 fundraising goal for the extensive renovations that started with structural repairs.
And as she looks toward the building’s future, Green said she was impressed by the many things she learned about the building’s past when she dove into a yearlong research project required to place it in the national registry.
Armed with old newspapers that predated the building’s construction in 1923, she pored over the history of the medical hub that sits atop a hill that overlooks much of Hayden.
“The Ladies Aid Society made most of the curtains, and schoolchildren collected pennies that paid for the building’s bricks,” Green said. “We had to put that history together in a logical and coherent order so that someone not familiar with the building could understand why it was so important.”
Green said the hospital’s acceptance into the national registry is a testament to the community members who raised the $35,000 needed to bring a hospital to Hayden at a time when most had to travel to Steamboat Springs or Craig for their medical needs.
“It’s a tribute to their tenacity to get this project going,” she said. “It’s icing on the top of the cake for the pioneers that started this.”
Bessie Jo Rienks, who worked as a bookkeeper in the hospital for 47 years before resigning in 2008, said Monday that the national recognition was welcome news.
“I’m very happy there are efforts under way to save it because of its history,” she said. “It was a nice small hospital to work in.”
And in the midst of the renovation projects, work continued at the hospital Monday afternoon. Country music echoed in the hallways from speakers in Nathan and Diana Haerr’s dental office on the top floor as Nathan prepared to welcome another patient.
“I like the architecture and the sense of history you get from working here,” he said, adding that one of the things he has learned is it was easy to know when a baby had been born in Hayden because a light in what is now the dental offices would stay on late throughout the night. “It’s nice to be an old historic building like this.”
— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com