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Lake City, Colorado Historic District
Lake City's Architectural Heritage
In this section:
The historic buildings and houses of Lake City convey the town's history as the supply center for the San Juan Mountain mining region.
The town's layout reveals town founders' careful planning, and its commercial buildings and residences communicate the civic pride of early citizens who chose architectural styles imported from the East.
The townsite was platted using the grid system and oriented north-northwest. The north-south streets have proper names and parallel the river. The east-west streets are numerical, beginning at Henson Creek and advancing north.
The Lake City Historic District encompasses the area lying south of Eighth Street, west of Lake Street, and bordered by the 1875 corporate limits on the south and west edges. It includes the Foote and Richardson, West Lake, Casco and Bluff Additions to the Town made around 1880
Gunnison Avenue, the main thoroughfare through town is also State Highway 149. Visitors entering the Historic District on this road encounter rows of one- and two-story mining era residences, which remain much as they were when
built 100 to 120 years ago.
The wooden picket fences and towering cottonwoods enclose
the old homes and accentuate the historic character of the neighborhoods. These residences reflect several late-1800s architectural styles as described in the following pages.
Historic commercial activity centered in the 100, 200, and 300 blocks of Gunnison Avenue and Silver Street.
Gunnison Avenue was the east edge of the traditional business district and contained rows of woodframe commercial buildings, since lost to fire or to deterioration. Beginning in the late 1930s, several tourist accommodations were built on Gunnison Avenue, including two long one-story units and several complexes of two-room log cabins. Infill consists of newer commercial buildings with wood exteriors and false front façades.
Commercial buildings on Silver Street, one block west of Gunnison Avenue, consisted of several masonry buildings, such as the stone Bank Block and the brick Hough Block, and rows of false front woodframe buildings. On June 15, 1915, a fire
destroyed most of the block of empty buildings southeast of Third and Silver streets. Nearly all were vacant at that time. Fire also consumed several other Silver Street structures, so that the Bank Block, Hough Block, and the storefronts at 205 - 219 Silver Street are the town's most intact historic commercial buildings.
The historic neighborhoods surround the commercial district and contain a variety of historic houses. A few log cabins remain from the town's pioneer period. Several dwellings reflect the architectural styles popular locally and nationally at the time they were built. Other houses are vernacular in design. The neighborhoods also contain several newer, compatible residences.
Lake City's two civic buildings reveal aspects of the town's past. The Hinsdale County Courthouse is Colorado's oldest courthouse still used for its original purpose. It was built in 1877 at 311 Henson Street. The courthouse was the site of a speech by suffragette Susan B. Anthony. It was also the location of the first trial of Alfred Packer, celebrated "Colorado Cannibal."
The 1883 Town Hall at 230 Bluff Street originally served two purposes. The brick building housed the Lake City Guard, a local branch of the state militia. It also contained the Opera House, used for theatrical productions, musical performances, mass meetings, and other events. At one time the structure also had a roller skating rink. It became the Town Hall around 1915, after town hall offices burned down in a conflagration that
consumed the entire block of buildings southeast of Silver and Third streets. Today, the building contains a community center and offices for the Town of Lake City and Lake City Area Recreation.
Few private dwellings were built between the late 1890s and the 1930s. Visitors bought vacant residences as summer homes, and the local economy shifted from mining to summer tourism. Several tourist cabin complexes were built to accommodate the
increasing number of summer visitors.
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Vacant storefronts, circa 1910, on the east side of the 200 Block of Silver Street. These buildings burned down in 1915. Note the Bank Block on the right side. Click image for larger pop up view.
Wooden picket fences and cottonwoods line the residential areas of Gunnison Avenue, Silver Street, and Bluff Street.
Story and a half pioneer home, the Roach-Higgins Cabin, on Silver Street.
300 Block of Silver Street.
Town of Lake City's Pitkin Guard Armory & Hall.