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Buena Vista Heritage Museum (Old Chaffee County Courthouse and Jail)

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Old Chaffee County Courthouse and Jail
1883, George E. King. 501 E. Main St. (NR)

For a safe full of county records stolen from Granite in a successful effort to capture the county seat designation, Buena Vistans erected this two-story brick courthouse inscribed in stone, “Dedicated to Justice 1882.” Leadville architect George E. King produced the design, executed by local builder Die-drich Fisher, who also built an early Fremont County courthouse in Cañon City, Fisher constructed this courthouse and the matching jail for $50,000. He used red brick with hand-tooled sandstone from the Ruby Mountain Quarry near Nathrop for the foundation, quoins, and trim. The classic Italianate edifice has central, pedimented bays on each side and a high-hatted octagonal cupola. Edward Kruger, a German tinsmith, produced the paneled and bracketed cornice and the metal roof for the cupola with its stag weathervane. After Buena Vista lost the county seat to Salida in 1928, this became a school, to which the WPA added a gym in 1937. Since the 1980s, the courthouse has been restored and occupied by the Buena Vista Heritage Museum. The second floor contains a display with scale models of the Alpine Tunnel and the three railroads that chugged into Chaffee County.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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