Historic Edwards house at its new home | VailDaily.com

Historic Edwards house at its new home

NWS Eaton Cabins DT 10-15-12

EDWARDS, Colorado – Here’s one of the few times when “ready, fire, aim” has paid off.

Edwards residents earlier this year launched a fast-paced effort to preserve Mike Eaton’s old home in Edwards. As the siding came off the old home, neighbors started seeing less of an old ranch house and more of a potentially historic log structure. That structure looked like something worth restoring. But the clock was ticking. Eaton had planned to build a new home, and needed the old structure off its site as quickly as possible.

Thanks to some quick work by the Edwards Metropolitan District, which wrote the first check, the home was taken apart in four pieces and taken off its foundation. It sat on Eaton’s property for several months, while a new home was prepared at the Eagle River Preserve open space.

Over the past few months, a foundation’s been built and the legal niceties have been taken care of, which cleared the way for the pieces of the structure to move across the river Oct. 14 and 15. The home will be rebuilt on that foundation – the crane will probably show up Oct. 22 or so.

Over the months, people involved in the project have learned much more about the structure, facts not even this generation of the Eaton family knew.

First, the railroad

The structure was built in 1909 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as a train station and stage stop. That early ownership explains the heft of the building – someone decided it was worth time and money to build a solid structure.

When the railroad made the switch from steam to diesel locomotives, it didn’t need stops every few miles, so the structure was sold in 1923. The home was sold again to Clifford Thomas in 1926, and it became the headquarters of a family ranch.

The home was sold again, in the 1960s, to Bruce Eaton. Mike Eaton was raised in the old home.

Mike Eaton knew the history of the building from the time Thomas, his great-uncle, bought the place, but little else. The rest of the history has been unearthed lately.

Becky Bultemeier, a member of the Edwards Metro District Board of Directors, fell in love with the old house as soon as the siding started coming off and before she knew the building’s history.

That affection grew stronger after Bultemeier, who grew up in a railroad family, learned more about the building.

“I thought we were saving a little Edwards ranch building, but to find out it was a railroad station was fantastic,” Bultemeier said.

Vern Brock is excited about the project, too. A lifelong valley resident, Brock’s grandparents once ran the general store in Edwards, and he, his parents and his kids all graduated from Eagle Valley High School.

Brock is the lead engineer on the project, working for the metro district. At first, he was supposed to handle just the engineering, but has found himself involved with other projects, from running backhoes to working on the make-you-sweat end of a shovel.

Good neighbors

The project has taken a big part of Brock’s time the last few months, and has also taxed his extensive contact list. He rattled off a quick, but long list of local companies that have either discounted or donated material and manpower to the project, from Ewing Construction to Edwards Building Center to R.A. Nelson and Associates.

R.A. Nelson founder Chupa Nelson said getting involved in project like this one are just part of being a good corporate neighbor.

“It’s all about doing what you have with the resources you have,” Nelson said. “There are a lot of ways to give back.”

Sometimes, giving back means bringing a toolbelt to a job site. Other times, it means writing checks. And the Eaton house project still needs to raise more money.

At this point, there’s enough available to rebuild the house and get it weatherproofed and secure. But the old home will eventually become an education facility, run by the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, which has also been involved since the early, “We’ve got to save this thing” period. That’s going to take more donations.

When the project’s finished, it will be the centerpiece of the open space, a place where people can learn more about the natural environment, and, as it was a century ago, a way station, although this time it will be for hikers and bicyclists on the valley’s trails.

“This cause is worthy,” Brock said. “It’s neat to be a part of something like this.”

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