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Pages of the Past: Crumbling mansions and affordable housing

Locations: News Published

From the archives of the Roaring Fork Valley Journal

Jan. 5, 1978
“The brick house” — arguably the grandest ranch home in the Valley when 300 people arrived on a chartered train for the housewarming in 1908 — was in the process of demolition. Built by Charles Harris (The Journal calls him Davis), one of the lower valley’s first settlers, it cost $12,000 and included 18 rooms, six foot wide stairs, 10 foot ceilings on the first two of three floors and gingerbread ornamentation throughout. Mumbert and Laurine Cerise were the last owners to occupy the house, but built a new house in 1957 when the floors started sagging and the walls began to split. Reduced to “little more than a skeleton” it remained their storehouse and a familiar landmark just off Highway 82 west of El Jebel. A Basalt man bought the property in 1976 and planned to have the building gone by summer.
In other news… Satank residents came out against the idea of closing the road through Colorado Rocky Mountain School to vehicular traffic and creating a new route to Highway 133 (Dolores Way). 

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Jan. 7, 1988
Editor Pat Noel crafted a column in defense of Spanish in response to a push to make English the official language of Colorado. Far from being a foreign tongue, he contended, Spanish was the language of the state’s first European explorers and settlers. In addition to being right there in the name of the state, it remained pervasive on restaurant menus, common expressions, and in Noel’s ability to curse fluently in response to hecklers when his car broke down in West Denver. “It is part of us,” he wrote. “To deny it by voting it a second-class language is to deny ourselves. And that’s a stupid thing to do. Que no?”
In other news… The Charles Bronson film “Messenger of Death” was slated to film at locations throughout Glenwood Springs — including the airport, train station and Hotel Colorado — injecting as much as $300,000 into the local economy. 

Jan. 8, 1998
The Carbondale Affordable Housing Alliance broke ground on 60 new homes affordable homes in what would become the Thompson Corner section of River Valley Ranch. CAHA Vice President John Stroud expressed hope that the model — a partnership between a private developer and a group of citizens — would be applied elsewhere in the area. Added Mayor Randy Vanderhurst, “What this means is that 60 families will be living in Carbondale who might not have been able to.”
In other news… The El Jebel Tree Farm was officially closed to the public after officials discovered an illicit ice rink inside one of the buildings. 

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Jan. 3, 2008
Trustee Scott Chaplin resigned after six years on town council, citing cost of living as one of the primary factors. “The most important issue facing the Carbondale Trustees in 2008 is affordable housing,” he wrote in a letter to the editor. “The financial tide has already turned on Carbondale’s working class and it is only a matter of time, seven to 10 years according to some housing turnover statistics, when the majority of our community will be replaced by very wealthy households.” (Chaplin’s departure bears some similarity to the more recent resignation of Katrina Byars, who left in 2017 after an extended attempt to afford housing in town.)
In other news… Carbondale company Sunsense Solar was stepping up its assistance project in New Orleans more than two years after Hurricane Katrina.

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