‘Cabin sandwich’ found within office building
Breckenridge town officials had heard a rumor there might be a cabin within the office building it purchased last year.
“We were expecting pieces of it,” said town planner Mike Mosher, who was there when building officials drilled exploratory holes into the walls. “It’s remarkably intact. We were excited. It’s in good shape. You can see the chinking, the logs. There’s not a lot of water damage and the roof’s intact. It’s a cabin sandwich, squished in between two buildings.”
The town purchased the building last year in hopes of remodeling it as an information center, providing such things as tickets, interpretive data for town open space parcels, arts information and other exhibits. The second and third floors could be used for employee housing or for visiting dignitaries.
It wasn’t until later that they learned the old cabin might still be within the building.
Town historian Rebecca Waugh is investigating who might have been the original owner of the log cabin. Names associated with the cabin include McAdoo, Gangnon, Johnson, Stafford, Williams and Hentshel.
According to architect Jon Gunson, Chuck Struve and Wally Taylor purchased the lot and two-story cabin and hired Gunson to build a wine and cheese shop in front of it.
Log structures weren’t very popular in the early 1970s, and money was tight, so instead of razing the cabin, the owners opted to cover up its exterior walls with sheetrock and siding.
Gunson didn’t have to face the strict design standards currently in place in Breckenridge. In the 1970s, there was no building department, no planning department and no process through which to bring the project. He merely brought his plans to the town board and began construction shortly thereafter.
“The town was kind of up in the air as to where architecture in the community was going,” Gunson said. “There was a big push to make it look like Vail – give a Nordic or Swiss feeling to the whole town. Another contingent wanted to go in the direction of mining buildings, and a third contingent wanted to preserve the Victorian town.”
Ultimately, the design featured a wine shop in the basement and a cheese shop on the second floor. The ground-level floor was merely a landing, and the third level was used as office space.
Future remodels opened up the third level to the public, which accessed various nooks and landings by myriad stairs. The owners then added two, two-story apartments on the back of the lot. Most recently, the cabin has been used as bedrooms, bathrooms and a laundry room.
“It’s unbelievable how it’s chunked around,” Mosher said of the architecture. “It took days to measure the floors. MC Escher would have been proud.”
Town officials plan to incorporate the cabin into whatever they decide to do with the whole structure. But plenty of work is ahead of them – the least of which will likely be reconstruction.
“It’s a quirky little deal there,” Gunson said. “It’s a 25-foot lot, so the thing looks like a freight train. It grew in stages; there was no real concept for the whole thing.”