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History for sale

Kathy Heicher
EVE Building for Sale DT 8-3
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EAGLE – There hasn’t been a paying client in the Ping Hotel in Eagle since the early 1940s.That’s not to say the property at the intersection of Highway 6 and Capitol Street doesn’t attract a lot of attention. It’s the object of an entire community’s curiosity.For nearly 120 years, the two-story building has stood at Eagle’s entrance. The wood exterior is badly weathered. The windows are either missing or boarded up.After being empty for the best part of the last 60 years, the structure and half-dozen cabins and auxiliary buildings on the property have been neglected. The land has also seen decades of trespassers.”We find people in there all the time – little kids, grown ups. You’d be surprised. There’s not a person that drives by that doesn’t wonder what’s there,” says Claude DeGraw, a nephew of the Ping family who handles the estate.After spending months cleaning up decades of accumulated trash – DeGraw estimates he’s hauled 60 truck loads to the county landfill – the family is ready to sell. The 9.5 city lots comprise, with exception of the Catholic Church which owns 12 lots further down the block, the largest single ownership of lots in downtown Eagle.The family is listing the property at $2.1 million. An estate auction is slated for Saturday. Historic hotelC.F. “Charley” Nogal built the original two-story hotel in 1892, according to historic records, probably to serve the miners who had been lured to the area by the promise of gold in the Fulford District southeast of Eagle.The hotel had 13 rooms including eight bedrooms. At one time, the Nogal family rented space to 25 boarders. Water for he hotel was hauled from the Eagle River and fuel wood was cut by hand.In addition to miners, the hotel served railroad workers and transients. During boom times, Nogal’s wife served supper and breakfast for 80 men. A typical menu consisted of venison, potatoes, biscuits, fruit and coffee.The property was bought by the Ping family in 1923. Otis Ping was a mechanic educated in Ireland. His wife, Minnie Mae, was the driving force in the business. Otis was the workman. They had four children: Garnett, Leonard, Floyd and Ruby.The Ping family expanded the building by adding two wings out back. DeGraw says it was his grandmother’s idea (Minnie) to add some stucco cabins along Capitol Street.The Pings operated the business as a boarding house and a hotel. When the mining boom subsided, the primary customers were railroad crews.

Eventually, the Pings installed a Conoco gas station at the hotel, featuring a glass-bubble pump.The Ping children all attended school in Eagle. Leonard eventually became an accomplished photographer, and ran a photo business out of the hotel building. Floyd and Ruby married, and moved away from home. Compulsive collectorsLeonard and Garnett remained single, and continued to live with their parents at the family complex on Capitol Street. The family stopped using the hotel building in about 1942, DeGraw says, and the family lived in a white house in the center of the complex.Garnett and Leonard could best be described as eccentric small-town characters. They did not like to have other people on their property, though they did not take care of it. Family members have recovered hundreds of Leonard’s photographs of the town and its people, many snapped during the 1920s and 1930s. Some of the tulips that Leonard tended still come up on the property every spring. DeGraw remembers one plum tree Leonard had worked with that produced three kinds of plums.Garnett was outgoing, and curious. She never learned to drive, but, until the last years of her life, often went downtown to meet people and to sniff out the local news.Otis died in 1952; and Minnie died about 10 years later.Leonard and Garnett continued to live on the property. Both were compulsive collectors of “things” – newspapers, magazines, coffee cups, dishes, knickknacks, stuffed animals. They rarely threw anything away. Gradually, all of the buildings on the property started to fill up.Leonard Ping died in the 1980s Garnett continued to live on the property by herself until the last few years of her life, when she moved in with her nephew, Claude and his wife, Vieva, at their Gypsum home. She died in December, 2003.Ready to sellSince that time, surviving family members have been cleaning up the property. DeGraw tore down several buildings that posed a health hazard. They recently decided to put the property on the market.”There is no reason to hold onto it,” said DeGraw.A couple of people who have looked at the old hotel building have suggested to the DeGraws that the building is stable enough to be restored.

Eagle does not currently have regulations that specifically protect historic buildings. Town Planner Bill Gray said the town would like to see some sort a mix of retail and homes on the property.Claude DeGraw, who has memories of eating some meals in the hotel building as a boy when his grandmother was still alive, says he has some thoughts about what he would like to see there some day.”I’d like to see the hotel, and a couple of the stucco cabins restored … I don’t think it will ever happen, unless somebody has tons of money,” he says.==========================================On the blockWhat: Ping Estate AuctionWhere: Old Ping Hotel and Conoco, just off Highway 6 between Howard and Capitol streets, EagleWhen: Saturday, 10 a.m.Terms: Cash or check, day of saleContact: Claude DeGraw 524-9545, Jac Laman (auctioneer) 524-6463What’s for sale:• Wood and coal cooking and heating stoves• ABC washing machine, 1918• Old photography equipment

• Cameras• Antique jars and bottles• Old chairs, tables• Hotel doors with numbers• Bed frames• Calendars – 1930s – 1960s• Auto parts• Tools• Tin type photos• Walk-behind tractor with disc• Lion’s foot bathtub• Knickknacks, stuffed animals, purses• Old school ==========================================Vail, Colorado


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