Grand Lake Area Historical Society buys land for relocating motor court
July 14, 2009
In the interest of preserving a piece of historic Grand Lake, the Grand Lake Area Historical Society closed on its purchase of a parcel of property on Friday.
The Society now plans to relocate the Eslick’s Cottage Court to a newly acquired lot kitty-corner from the motor court’s long-standing location.
The building is a four-unit example of early 20th century motels that catered to the first mass-produced automobiles. History experts believe it to be the oldest intact motor court in the country.
The Cottage Court has been at the forefront of the Society’s goals since the building’s fate came into question as the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, which owns the motor court property, announced plans to construct a new theatre on the historic structure’s accompanying lot.
The Historical Society’s future home for the motor court is at the corner of Vine and Cairns Avenue in Grand Lake, a parcel that belonged to the family of Grace and Clyde Eslick, who operated the motel until the late 1960s. Clyde helped to build the bark-sided motel – the first motel in Grand Lake – with his father and grandfather around 1915.
Society President Jim Cervenka said he is pleased the motel might remain along Grand Lake’s historic entrance. In bygone days, he said, people entered the town by way of Marina Drive onto Cairns.
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“Ideally, we would have loved for it to stay where it is, but that is not an option,” Cervenka said. The Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre board submitted a deadline to have the building removed by Oct. 1.
The Society now plans to raise funds while it seeks grants to help pay for the financed purchase of the property, as well as cover the expense of relocating the building.
“If we get enough commitments, enough community interest, we’ll look at buying the adjacent lot to have a historic park for the future,” Cervenka said. The Society hopes to have property available for other threatened Grand Lake historic structures.
“Development happens, and will happen again,” he said. “There will be another building that the community is going to look at.”
Cervenka noted that Donna Ready of Mountain Lakes Properties, Grand Lake, the agent who facilitated the recent sale of the property, volunteered zero commission in the deal.
Preliminary budget crunching shows the Society will need to raise from $400,000 to $500,000 for last Friday’s lot purchase, the building move and the possible purchase of the adjacent lot for an expanded historic park, according to Cervenka.
“It’s not the greatest economy to be out asking for money,” Cervenka said. “There’s lots of demands for money out there, but there’s also lots of recognition that this is a really significant structure, so we’re hopeful.”
The Society, he said, has been in contact with the National Trust for Historic Preservation about the Eslick’s Cottage Court and has received interest.
An expert in moving historic structures has convinced the Society the building can be moved, Cervenka said. The structure would be moved in two parts, two units at a time.
How the building would be positioned, however, depends on the Society’s ability to purchase the second lot.
The Society plans to restore the structure so it would be open to the public for interpretation – “to learn what it was like to vacation in Grand Lake,” Cervenka said.
“Yes,” he continued. “It needs a lot of restoration.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.