Donations boost effort to save Grand Lake’s historic Eslick Motor Court |

Donations boost effort to save Grand Lake’s historic Eslick Motor Court

Tonya Bina
Grand County, Colorado

The Grand Lake Area Historical Society is starting a campaign to save the Eslick Motor Court building in Grand Lake.

The Historical Society is determined to move the Motor Court, recognized as a unique historic artifact and thought to be the oldest, original-condition motor court in the country, according to Historical Society statements released Tuesday.

“The Society is looking at properties to purchase, trying to decide where the motor court can be moved while still retaining its easy access for tourists and the community. It will eventually be restored to original condition and interpreted to visitors much as the Kauffman House Museum has been,” states the release.

The Historical Society was prompted to start the Motor Court project by “strong indication” from Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre representatives that the building will need to be moved once construction starts on the Repertory’s brand new theatre building in Grand Lake, said Historical Society President Jim Cervenka.

The Repertory Theatre owns the historic Eslick building and property.

Following a missed opportunity extended by the Repertory Theatre to buy the motor court building for $1 this fall, the Historical Society met with Repertory officials, Cervenka said, and outlined the Society’s desire to still save the building and restore it ” although the feat is daunting given a June deadline, when the Repertory Theatre is slated to start construction.

Since the meeting, a donation fund has started in the name of the motor court building.

Reed James, a Repertory Theatre board member and owner of the Grand Lake Lodge as well as historic preservation supporter and Historical Society member Dave Lively of Grand Lake each offered $2,500 toward the effort.

“The Grand Lake Historical Society is thrilled to announce two generous donations, which will need to be matched by other donations before Feb. 15th,” says the Historical Society.

“Even as the Grand Lake community welcomes the exciting new theatre building planned for the center of town, the Grand Lake Area Historical Society is intently focused on moving and restoring the historic Eslick Motor Court presently located on the Theatre’s Vine Street property.”

Clyde Eslick, the original builder of the motor court, recognized the importance of automobile tourism very early on, making his motor court operational in 1915.

It’s a series of four “cottages” or motel rooms interspaced with small car ports. The Eslick property was right on the main road leading into Grand Lake, and the motor court was surrounded by trees and picnic spots. The building was covered with split, bark-covered logs and was later partially refurbished. It was still being used into the 1950s.

“Every historic building in Grand Lake is valuable, but this impossible-to-replicate structure is especially so,” says the Society. “It’s truly a one-of-a-kind reflection of history and the early tourism economy in our area.

“It must be saved.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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