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Grants Help Flood Damaged Historic Places Hold On To The Past

Lois Smith
Baldpate Inn

If you gamble in Blackhawk or Cripple Creek, your taxes helped restore buildings from Colorado’s past – and those damaged in September’s historic floods.

The Baldpate Inn, outside of Estes Park, is one of five properties that have received an emergency grant from History Colorado to ameliorate flood damage. Completed in 1916, the inn had major structural damage to the roof and foundation and was inaccessible after floodwaters destroyed the road leading to the property.

“When I contacted them [History Colorado] they were very, very gracious in helping me figure out what they could help me with, which was the damage to the foundation of the building, and because we had all this food left over, we had a tremendous problem with bears breaking and entering,” said Lois Smith, the owner of the Baldpate Inn.

Credit Lois Smith / Baldpate Inn
Baldpate Inn
Key Room at the Baldpate Inn as it appeared before the flood damage, undated.

The emergency grants from History Colorado, $51,000 in total, are meant to assist with stabilizing the damaged historic buildings until the owners are able to restore them.

Patrick Eidman, a preservation planner with History Colorado says “It’s really just that first step in insuring the long term survival of the building.”

Repairing historic properties is also more than just finding the right building materials.

“[It’s also about] finding the specialized architects and contractors that really understand these buildings, how they were constructed, making sure it’s done correctly so that the integrity of these historic buildings isn’t harmed,” he said.

The Baldpate Inn will reopen for its usual season in May, but that spring runoff is still a big concern, said Smith.

“Our roadway, if I have that kind of runoff or even similar to [September 2013 flooding] in the spring, there are going to be some issues with the excess water,” Smith said. “And just knowing how saturated the ground is already, you can’t help but say there is going to be some issues.”

Credit Lois Smith / Baldpate Inn
Baldpate Inn
The buildup of ice on the Bladpate Inn property has the owners worried about spring runoff. Picture taken March 2014.

Smith says she’s very grateful to History Colorado for identifying the spring runoff as an issue that needs to be taken care of.

“So it will be a race against nature of how quickly it melts and starts running and how quickly we can get those ditches put in that will divert the water [around the building] and doing further damage,” she said.

Smith has owned The Baldpate Inn for 27 years, despite her recent struggles she loves the business.

“There are only so many historic places left and it’s so important that we can preserve and hold on to the ones that we can.”


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