Pulis’ property the missing link to Vail’s golf course
“I opened the door and I’ll never forget this,” she remembered. “In those days, it wasn’t nice for a girl to talk to a soldier of the Occupation Force. When I saw him standing there, it was such a surprise. I turned immediately, totally red – easily done at 15 – and got ready to shut the door on him. My brother intercepted and told me it was all right.”
That’s how a wonderful love story started, and it has lasted to this day.
Helga emigrated to London to learn English, then to Seattle, where she saw Warren and decided that they had a lot in common. They were married in 1956. Pulis’s father was an F. W. Woolworth executive living in Denver. In 1940, for approximately $4,000, he bought a ranch adjacent to the Anholtz property in Vail. They used it as a summer retreat.
For Vail to build a full-length, 18-hole golf course, it was necessary to go east through the Pulis Ranch toward East Vail. Vail Associates wanted to buy the property, but the Pulis family was reluctant to sell – and for good reason.They had the opportunity to take advantage of Vail’s growth and prosper in real estate themselves.
After much negotiation, a 99-year lease was worked out so that the golf course could be built on the floodplains near the riverbed area close to the highway. The course was completed in 1969 and the Pulis family, on a gradual basis, started selling lots for $10,000 to $12,000 in the first phase and $20,00 in the second. The third phase was valued at $40,000 per lot. In the 1970s, some of the lots went for $90,000 to $300,000.
It was a friendly relationship that was very significant to Vail’s growth and development. Later, the lease was converted to an outright sale effective in 1999.
The Pulis property was quite open with sagebrush meadows. Being starved for golf, the meadows looked like fairways. Rod Slifer, Peter Seibert and I would go out and hit golf balls, pretending to be playing. One day as we were passing the Pulis log-cabin ranch house, Warren’s father Jay came out and wanted to join us. We were delighted and thought we might break the ice. But, Warren’s father died later in the summer, still opposed to the sale.
We were invited back to the house and met Warren, who was visiting from Washington state, and his mother, Caroline. Warren took me flyfishing for the first time in Gore Creek next to their house. The stream was teeming, and in addition to hooking rainbow trout, I was hooked.
That was the beginning of a nice relationship with Warren and Helga Pulis. They wanted to move to Vail, so Warren was hired to work with Bob Parker in the marketing department. He was a good graphic artist and designed two billboards at each end of Vail – “Welcome to Vail, founded 1962.”
With their three daughters, Vali, Fawn, and Piney (all named by Warren), they settled in Vail in 1964. Warren Pulis became active in the real-estate business and Helga started the Valley Forge gift shop in the Plaza Building – later in the Casino Building. When competition became too severe, they closed the Valley Forge and Helga opened a high-end boutique in the Casino Building called Helga’s.
Between the real-estate activities on the Pulis Ranch, the Valley Forge shop, and Helga’s, the Pulis family was busy for many years until their retirement in 1990. Helga particularly was a “doer” and helped with many charitable fund-raisers.
Recently, when asked about her life since meeting Warren when she was 15, she said, “It was a love story from the beginning and still is.”
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 95th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” 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.