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Not as originally intended

Enterprise staff report
Students leave the building to go to recess at Stone Creek Charter School in Gypsum. The building, located at 20 Lindbergh Drive in Gypsum, formerly housed administrative offices for US Bank.
Anthony Thornton | athornton@vaildaily.com |

Things are not always what they seem.

Eagle Valley residents need look no further than their own backyards to witness that statement in action. Throughout the valley there are businesses operating out of what were once residences or new operations housed in buildings that used to be something else. For instance, Grand Avenue Grill is a favorite local eatery, but it used to be someone’s house. That’s part of the reason why the front dining room is so homey.

Using structures in ways that were not originally intended usually takes creativity, vision and some construction skills. Here are some examples of successful community transitions:

Stone Creek Charter School

20 Lindbergh Drive, Gypsum

It’s difficult to imagine a more striking transformation for the building that sits at 20 Lindbergh Drive in Gypsum.

These days, driving by the site located directly across the intersection from the Costco entrance may produce a smile, especially during recess.

The structure, was originally an administration center for US Bank, is now home to Stone Creek Charter School. Once US Bank merged with other banking companies, the operations were moved to other locations, which left the building empty.

The building remained vacant for several years after housing US Bank operations, at the same time when Stone Creek Charter was growing like crazy. Now the K-8 students have a great new location with some growing room.

In June of 2013, Stone Creek board members contacted US Bank, and made a deal to lease the building. The building is 30,000 square feet and comes with 3.5 acres of land – which is good since more and more students are signing up to attend the school.

Headmaster John Brendza thinks it’s the perfect spot for current – and future – Mustangs. He noted the structure set up is unique, and that was one of the reasons why it was difficult to find a tenant. However, Brendza noted the unusual floor plan meant that the building would work as a bank or as a school.

“We currently have the first floor of the facility and all the land in front,” says Brendza. “The second floor is vacant but we have the first right of refusal to rent it as well. That could happen in the next 2-3 years with enrollment increasing the way it is.”

Stone Creek is Eagle County’s only independent charter school, operating under the Colorado Charter School Institute. It is not affiliated with Eagle County Schools, but it is also not a private school. It opened in 2006, and along with the Gypsum location, there are also two Edwards locations – one for grades K-4 and another for grades 5-8. Stone Creek’s middle school received an A rating in the latest Colorado School Grades rankings, an annual independent analysis of statewide school data. In the same rankings, Stone Creek’s elementary school ranked in the 89th percentile among Colorado’s 998 elementary schools. For more information on the school, visit http://www.stonecreekschool.org/.

Eagle’s old Post Office

318 Broadway, Eagle

Colorado Mountain Medical (CMM) business offices are located smack-dab in the center of downtown Eagle at 318 Broadway. Although you can’t see a doctor here, this is where all the billing and paperwork shuffling happens.

What many people don’t know is that this building used to be Eagle’s Post Office, until the mid 1980s. The building was built by local George Carlow for the specific reason to lease it out the United States Post Office, which he did until the town demands outgrew the space. In the mid 1980s, after a contentious land use process, the U.S. Postal Service built the current post office at 264 Chambers Avenue.

The downtown Eagle building housed a title company for several years before Colorado Mountain Medical workers moved in. The current occupants say they love the convenient location where they busily work. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Colorado Mountain Medical has physicians’ offices in Basalt, Vail, Edwards and Eagle. In Eagle, patients go to the Eagle Valley Medical Center at 377 Sylvan Lake Road to see primary care physicians, specialists and other practitioners.

All those heath care services mean a lot of billing and accounting needs, and that entire department for all locations sits in downtown Eagle, where mail was sorted decades ago.

For more information about Colorado Mountain Medical, visit http://www.cmmhealth.com.

Eagle County Historical Society Museum

100 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle

An actual piece of Eagle County history now serves as a museum for other local artifacts.

According to the Honoring Historic Eagle plaque located in front of the building at Chambers Park/100 Fairgrounds Road, the white barn building that now serves as the Eagle County Historical Society local history museum began its life on the property that became the Chambers family ranch. It was located where the Burger King parking lot is today. Local historians believe the barn was built around 1905.

“Joe and Ross Chambers came to Eagle County from the Front Range in the late 1930s,” reads the barn history. “They had ranched east of Littleton, but were discouraged by drought, insects and fire. In addition to starting a ranching operation, the brothers purchased the Castle Peak Dairy from rancher Chester Mayer whose ranch was where the Eagle Ranch subdivision is now. At that time the barn was used as a horse barn.”

The Chambers ranch headquarters, including the barn, was located in the area where the Interstate 70 Eagle interchange is today.

Rancher Loren Chambers donated the building to the Historical Society with the stipulation that it be removed from the property, clearing the way for commercial development along the interchange.

“A Save the Barn group was formed in Eagle County and with a great deal of help from the Chambers family arrangements were made to create a city owned park with the barn as one of the main features,” the history notes. “With help from the community, the Chambers family and the town of Eagle the building was moved to the Chambers Park in October, 1984. The museum was opened in 1989.”

Today the barn is the centerpiece of a local history complex at Chambers Park that also includes the original, restored Avon Store building and a Denver and Rio Grande caboose. The Eagle Regional Visitor Information Center, which is a restored and resituated residence from Gypsum, provides the entry way to the site.

Because the barn is not heated, the museum operates only during the summer and early fall. The museum is open from mid May to early October, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Farmers Insurance

300 First Street, Gypsum

The town of Gypsum now conducts its business from its signature municipal property located along Valley Road. The site includes not only Gypsum Town Hall, but also the Gypsum Recreation Center, the Lundgren Theater, the Gypsum Public Library and various park improvements.

But until the 1990s, the town’s operations were housed in decidedly more humble digs, located at 300 First Street. Today that building houses the local Farmers Insurance business.

Farmers agent Jim Kinser said his business has been housed at the site since 2005 and before that, the building was a real estate office. Even though its been decades since it was town hall, Kinser said he still hears from people who remember paying their water bills at the site.

Kinser noted that the office has undergone a number of renovations since Farmers took over the space. “The back of the building, where they used to change the oil for the town trucks, is now our training room,” he said. “When we took it over we opened up the smaller spaces and connected the two different parts of the building. Its fun to see the before and after photos of what we did.”

In addition to the indoor renovations, Farmers’ did improvements to the building facade and installed new landscaping and sidewalks. As a result of all the work, Kinser feels right at home at the revitalized building.

“It is four miles from my house. It is pretty wonderful,” he said.


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