Vail’s First Building: The Bridge Chalet |

Vail’s First Building: The Bridge Chalet

Dick Hauserman
Daily file photoThe Bridge Chalet, Vail's first building, built by Fitzhugh Scott on his own without a plan or deed. It was a godsend for the first office space. Note the absence of trees.

Frustrated that there was no place to have meetings or spend the night, he drew up the plan on the back of a manila envelope while on the plane returning to Milwaukee, and gave it to one of his architects to draw up. The chalet was completed in September 1961, just after a two-foot snowfall, which put the fear of the devil in everyone from that point on about building in the mountains.

Fitzhugh Scott’s influence on the design and development of Vail was substantial. From the beginning, he wanted this community to have a wonderful human scale. He and Seibert both wanted a European influence, because they felt that the Europeans were the only ones, literally, who knew how to build in the mountains – and this was, in reality, quite true.

Beliefs about the number of people the town could physically accommodate have changed incredibly over the years.

“In talking to Peter and Fitz one evening about this, and being the young architect that I was, I said, “Well, how big do you think this community is going to be, or where do you think we are going with all this development?'” Gordon Pierce recalled, “I think it was Peter who said, “Well, maybe someday we’ll have upwards of 5,000 beds here.'”

Today, 40,000 to 50,000 is more realistic figure, beyond the wildest imagination of the early planners.

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And, speaking of planners, it’s hard to estimate how important Fitzhugh Scott was to Vail.

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 24th installment, an excerpt from chapter 5, “Creating a Plan to Make it Work.” 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.

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