Jan. 9, 1960 – Diverse board sets Vail’s course
I did not know Peter Seibert very well. I had just met him a few months earlier in Cleveland. I assumed it was my association with Gerry Hart and John Murchison that prompted the original group in Denver to invite me. However, it was with great anticipation that I prepared to fly from Cleveland to Denver early in January 1960 to attend that first board meeting at the Denver Country Club.
Going into the meeting with strangers to form a corporation, of which I was to become an integral part, and which would change my entire life, caused me to do a great deal of thinking as I took the plane to Denver.
It was a very cordial reception when we all gathered there on a Saturday morning in one of the nice lounging rooms of the Denver Country Club. I knew two members of that first board of directors. One was Fitzhugh Scott from Milwaukee, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Alta, Utah, several years before. I had skied with his family on numerous occasions. The other was Gerald Hart, a real-estate man in Denver who was in charge of the construction of John Murchison’s two major office buildings built in downtown Denver during the mid-1950s – the First National Bank Building and the Denver Club Building. It was a pleasant surprise to know two people of the group of nine who met that Saturday morning.
Also in attendance were Fritz Benedict of Aspen, an architect of considerable reputation who attended the meeting as a consultant; Jack Tweedy and his law partner, Bob Fowler, who were both Princeton graduates of the class of 1943; George Caulkins, who was in the class of 1943 at Yale, and who was to have considerable influence on the early development of Vail but who would become disenchanted later and resign from the board; Harley Higbie, a partner in the oil business with George Caulkins in Denver; and, of course, Seibert, who was responsible for putting this group together.
My education was in architecture from the University of Southern California class of 1938, but I never practiced. The war intervened, and after four years in the Navy, I entered the family business because my father had died in 1943. We manufactured moveable walls for office buildings and were the world leaders in our field.
The meeting was well organized. With the $100,000 that was raised by bringing in the additional 20 members at $5,000 each, a carefully laid out, two-year feasibility program was presented to study whether or not the resort should be built. This study was prudently budgeted and included plans for developing the mountain and the village. It also included ideas on how to market the new resort so that we could tell the world who we were and where we were located and invite them to come and help us grow.
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 14th installment, an excerpt from chapter 4, “The First Directors’ Meeting.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.