The Barney Ford home has been unoccupied for years, but will open as a museum July 4 |

The Barney Ford home has been unoccupied for years, but will open as a museum July 4

Jane Stebbins

The museum should be open this summer.

Town officials estimate they will spend almost $70,000 on the first year of operating the museum, not including restoration costs. The bulk of the operating costs – an estimated $34,320 – would be spent on a director, whom town officials believe would need to work about 12 hours a week at $55 an hour

Other expenses include the cost to open the museum on July 4, fund raising, various office supplies, brochures and newsletters.

Potential revenue, estimated to total $43,000, would come from fund-raising events, membership dues, grants, gift shop sales and entrance fees.

The Barney Ford House is owned by Robin and Patty Theobald, who, through a newly formed nonprofit group called the Saddle Rock Society, are renovating the historic home at 111 S. Main St. The group is named after the Saddlerock Restaurant, one of many business endeavors undertaken by the original owner, Barney Lancelot Ford.

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Success story

Ford, who started his life as a plantation slave, and his wife, Julia, moved to Breckenridge in 1860 and operated a miners’ boardinghouse on the northwest corner of Ski Hill Road and Main Street.

The couple moved to Denver in 1861 after the sheriff kicked Ford off his mining claim. At the time, blacks were not allowed to own land. But they returned in 1879 and began construction on the house at the corner of Adams and Main streets.

Ford – who despite his status as a black, had light skin and blue eyes – owned numerous restaurants and hotels in Denver and Cheyenne, Wyo., and was considered a prominent businessman in Breckenridge.

Town officials see the reopening of the 1882 house as one more way to show off the town’s cultural and historical assets. The house was built by Elias Nashold, whose trademarks included square bay windows and diamond-shaped insets on the exterior trim.

The home has five rooms: a dining room, a sitting room, formal parlor, bedroom and a small room that might have been a butler’s pantry, said town historian Rebecca Waugh.

There is no kitchen because the Fords owned a restaurant that originally sat on the front of the property on Main Street. At the turn of the century, someone added a bathroom and another small room to the rear of the house.

Capitol portrait

Robin Theobald, who grew up in the house, said the work entails taking inventory of the furniture in the home, installing a security system and removing nonhistoric elements such as baseboard heaters.

Other work includes sanding hardwood floors, repairing plumbing and drywall, installing insulation, replacing the fence surrounding the home and building a handicapped-accessible ramp. The foundation also requires work.

Town officials are excited to add the Barney Ford House to its list of historic residences that are open to the public. Others historic homes include the Milne House at Lincoln and Harris streets and the Carter Museum at Wellington and Ridge streets.

In 1890, the Fords sold their home to the Curtice family for $1,200 and returned to Denver. Ford died Dec. 27, 1902. A photo of him hangs in the state Capitol.

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