State Historic Fund Awards Grant to Help Restore Emma Town Site
(Aspen, CO) The Open Space and Trails Department has been awarded $278,325 from the State Historic Fund to assist with the protection of the Emma Store Buildings located along Highway 82 near the Emma Intersection. This property, including a half mile of riparian lands on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, was purchased by the Open Space Department for $2.6 million last summer with a $250,000 contribution from the Basalt Open Space fund. Until the purchase and initial renovation work by Pitkin County Open Space, the buildings were crumbling and at risk of falling down completely.

“The beautiful, old buildings are among the largest and most sophisticated nineteenth century commercial architecture to have survived in the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Director, Dale Will. “To this extent, the buildings compare in importance to Aspen’s Jerome Hotel and Wheeler Opera House. We’re thrilled to have the State’s assistance in preserving them,” Will said.

The buildings represent a bygone agricultural era in the mid-valley, where local farm products were traded for wares brought in on the adjacent Rio Grande Railroad. The rail has now given way to a valley wide trail system which brings thousands of pedestrians and cyclists near the Emma town site every year. The heirloom fruit trees planted on the site in the nineteenth century survive as well, providing another living link to the valley’s heritage.

The State Historic Fund’s $278,325 awarded comprises 58% of the $477,819 in estimated need to put on new roofs and reestablish waterproof shells for two large buildings. Another $100,000 was received as a dedication related to the Middle Ranch project on Sopris Creek. This leaves approximately $100,000 in further fund raising needed to move forward on the new roof and weatherproofing for the Emma buildings. To date, the Open Space Fund has invested $121,000 to stabilize the structure walls until long term planning for their use can be conducted.

“We believe the restoration of these buildings on the Emma site will greatly benefit all those who live, work or recreate in our valley,” Will said.

If you have any questions, please call Dale Will, Director, Open Space and Trails, at 970 920-5203 or Historic Preservation Officer Suzanna Reid at 970-618-4574.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2009