Eye of the Archives: Almost There

Well, well, well, look who’s all dressed up with no place to go? Me! I am feeling pretty luxurious these days, and it’s not just because the Oscars were on Sunday night. I have been decked out with the most lovely accessories: fine carpeting, pretty dark blue walls and shiny bathroom tile. All the finishing touches are happening, and I must plug the contractors (G.F. Woods) because it’s all on time. But, like I said though, no place to go. While the construction is nearing an end, we have to wait for the building to settle a bit before we transport all of the archives back into it. Then the staff can move into their new offices and we’ll make sure everything is running smoothly before we invite the public in to see it all.

Our grand opening will be July 14, so mark your calendars. That’s when we’ll open up for a full day of tours, celebrations and snacks. In addition, that pretty blue wall will feature a photo exhibition featuring images selected by community members. It’s all very exciting, and I’ll be in preparation mode until I make my big debut to all of you. Thanks for hanging in there; it will be worth it.

Archive Building



Eye of the Archives: Wood Floors and More

I’m giddy with how good I look! Things are really taking shape, in all the right corners, here at the archive building. First, cabinetry has been installed on all three levels. In the basement, SpaceSavers were put in (twice as many as there used to be) to efficiently store items, documents and artifacts, and this will be our nexus of storage and preservation. Type A people will appreciate the utter organization of it all. On the main level, sleek-looking cabinets  have been added throughout the archives room, so the Historical Society’s most-accessed documents and objects can now be within (safe) reach. On the third floor, additional sets of cabinets and drawers have been installed. And everything matches!

And while it’s easy to get excited about the things that hide other things (like cabinets), I’m most excited about my gorgeous new floors. Not only are they fashionable, but they’re functional — durable and easy to clean for all the community and children’s events we’ll have in the new gallery space. I think it’s the first time that I can say I’m excited for people to walk all over me.

(Archive Building)

Learn more about the renovation here. Find other updates here.


Eye of the Archives: Vaulted Up

I’m a three-level building. With my renovation, the main floor, aka my torso, will be the community and education space and that’s where most people will spend their time. My top floor, or head, is going to be office space. But sometimes I think what’s happening downstairs in my basement is the coolest. That’s where thousands and thousands of artifacts, objects and photographs will be safely stored. The goal is that people won’t really spend any time down there, sort of like a not-below-the-waist policy.

To make sure that everything is protected, the construction crew is adding technology to prevent against fire and flood. The space will the climate-controlled in order to maintain optimal levels for preservation. Things like wiring will be isolated so that there aren’t any ignition sources in the basement archive area. Essentially, it’s a vault — one that protects all of Aspen’s treasures.


(Archive Building)

Eye of the Archives: Buttoning Up

Brrrr. Does anyone else feel a draft in here? Recently my doors have been wide open and my walls exposed. During this extended summer called fall, it’s been pleasant but the recent temperature drop has me all sorts of happy for my new insulation. Recently the G.F. Woods construction guys have buttoned me up to make sure I’m ready for Colorado’s cold winters.

That means a couple of things. First, I got all new Pella windows. I don’t know much about them, but I hear they’re the best kind. Like they’re the windows the Queen of England would get if she was renovating her castle. Second, they put new siding on me and a thing called the VaproShield, which is a water-resistant, vapor-permeable insulated wall.  That sounds pretty cool, and by cool, I mean warm.

We’re trucking along on schedule just in time for the arrival of winter.


(Archives Building)

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Eye of the Archives: Building Walls

It’s election season and everyone is putting up walls, including the G.F. Woods Construction guys. But unlike the metaphorical walls going up around the country, mine are the good kind. And I don’t discriminate either, I like all types of walls! The wall with the cinderblocks is called a Concrete Masonry Unit wall — CMU for those in the biz, or “magic shield” to me. This particular shield is going up my basement, where all of the tens of thousands of artifacts, documents and images will be kept, and its job is to be a firewall. All of the precious stuff will go inside the concrete box, and that protective shield will keep everything safe in case of the worst, like a fire or flood. Basically, if I’m in “Star Wars,” this is my force field.


(Archives Building)

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Click here for more information on the campaign and the renovation process.

Eye of the Archives: Party Time

I basically won the popularity contest of archives buildings last week when nearly 75 people showed up for our “groundbreaking” ceremony. It actually should have been called a wall-breaking ceremony, since my shell isn’t going anywhere, but my insides are getting the makeover.  People walked all over my floor, drew on my paint and took hammers to my walls — and I thought it was fun!

That means construction has officially begun. I’m feeling a little drafty these days without any insulation and a lot of open doors. But, hopefully I will be all buttoned up by the time snow stays on the ground. Then the construction crew can pay attention to the all the important upgrades that will happen inside me.


A. B.
(Archive Building)



Eye of the Archive: A Giant Move

movingday_9-20-16You know that feeling after Thanksgiving dinner when you’ve eaten five helpings of food but then can’t really move off of the couch? It was all worth it, and delicious, but things are … tight. That’s how I felt at the Aspen Historical Society, until recently. See, I’m the archive building. I sit behind that giant brick mansion in the West End (which isn’t so giant anymore compared to a lot of our neighbors), and I hold most of the town’s collection of photographs, documents and objects, plus some offices and storage. Because history keeps happening, I am getting stuffed.

movingday1_9-20-16Thankfully the fine folks at the Historical Society have decided to do something about it. We’re renovating! For the past month, dedicated staff have been methodically boxing up materials to store for the next eight months while I’m gutted. On the other end of the project, you’re going to see a sweet, new me. I’ll be energy-efficient, have more room for storage and will even feature a community meeting space so you can visit me more often. This is seriously wonderful news for the community, but it’s best for me. It feels like my belt just loosened and by spring I’ll be able to eat as much as I want.




Click here for more information on the campaign.

Aspen in Objects: A Madam’s Corset

Aspen’s first tax-generating business was not mining, freighting, dry goods or even saloons; it was prostitution. The City of Aspen ordinances adopted in 1880 set aside a special area near the railroad depot for cribs and “female lodging” in order to confine the “trade” to a few blocks and to keep tabs on the disreputable businesses for tax collection. The ladies of the night only accepted cash, unlike most of the other businesses in town so they were the first “businesses” able to pay their taxes.


Corset, circa 1890.

Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.

100 Years of Aspen High School Yearbooks

Go back in time to figure out who was Aspen’s biggest flirt in 1998 or what graduating seniors had to say about each other in 1910, all from the comfort of your computer. We recently digitized Aspen High School yearbooks from 1909 to 2010 (with some years missing), and anyone can browse them here. That means decades of real local history — stories and images about the kids who grew up here — is available at your fingertips. Look for embarrassing photographs of mom and dad, or even yourself. It should be great fodder for many Throwback Thursdays to come.





Make it a Sweet Pea Summer

So it gets to the end of summer and you have a beautiful garden full of sweet peas that look like this:


Now you can show them off. Tag your garden with #sweetpeasummer on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, or email your photos directly to christine@aspenhistory.org, and you’ll be entered in our contest for a sweet award.

Sweet peas are the official flower of Aspen. Ramona Markalunas, dubbed the sweet pea of Aspen, used to encourage locals to plant them in their yards and nurture them all summer so that the town would be a burst of colorful flowers. We’re honoring her spirit and doing the same. We mailed out sweet peas to our members early in May, and they were available for pickup at The Aspen Times and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Aspen Snowmass, so neighbors should be well armed. Now that they’re in the ground — hopefully — it’s time to grow for glory.


A sweet pea bush in the early 1900s.