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100 Years of Gypsum

This fall, Gypsum marks its 100th anniversary as an incorporated town in Eagle County .  According to the Eagle County Blade of August 11, 1911, “Yes, we are taking steps to incorporate…We will in the course of a few days have electricity available for lighting and will then be the only town in the county to have taken that progressive step…I want you to know that Gypsum today has as good mercantile institutions and is doing as much business as any town in the county.” During Gypsum Daze this upcoming July, there will be a walking tour of the town, a tour of Cedar Hill Cemetery, and all the parades, bands, and entertainment usually part of that celebration. In anticipation of this, the Eagle County Historical Society is doing its homework.  We met in Gypsum on April 7 for a walk with Art Davenport and Jack Oleson, long-time residents, both entertaining as always, for a close-up look at historic downtown Gypsum between 1st and 2d Streets.

Jack Oleson, Art Davenport and Terrill Knight

The great building above Art’s head in this photo is the Upper Gypsum School building, originally on Daggett Lane.  Now it’s a private residence.  Jack Oleson bought it in 1946 and moved it to the current location, selling it to Lily Anderson.  It was used to serve school lunches for many years and is still a unique architectural statement.

The Upper Gypsum School soon after its construction in 1910. Italianate style with cupola bell tower. The building is presently at 115 Eagle Street, Gypsum. It was used as part of Gypsum School District 16 until the districts reorganized. It then became the Bible Chapel and then was used by the Annointed Christian Fellowship.

The Ulin Hotel at 318 1st Street is now an apartment building.  It was later the Travelers Hotel, being right up the street from the train depot.

Ulin/Travelers Hotel

And continuing on to 418 2d Street, we find Bill Lea’s house.  Mr. Lea was the county surveyor at the time and did the survey of the city limits as part of the incorporation process.  He was also elected one of the first Trustees of the town with Theodore Stremme being mayor.

418 2d Street, Gypsum

Anniversary celebrations are wonderful times to go back and document the history of our communities.  Gypsum is fortunate to have much of its downtown core intact and in use today, testimony to the “progressive” citizens of the previous century.    




Great post, and it would appear that your walking tour was quite the success!

It really helped me visualize where things were and what is missing. Having Art and Jack point us in the right direction was wonderful.

Great Work Jaci, Does the street mentioned "Daggett Lane" have any known ties to the Daggett Family that had the store on Water St. in Red Cliff early days (1930)? Len

Yes, indeed, Len. will get you to his information. Jaci Local History, Archives Eagle Public Library, EVLD PO Box 240, 600 Broadway Eagle, CO 81631 970 328-8800

I was very excited to see my Great Great Grandfather (Bill) or usually (Will) William Henry Lea's, home, although it has change alot from our old family pictures. My Aunt still remembers the house. She said the upstairs was all one big room the family slept in, the house had a wood burning stove, no hot water or bathroom. My Great Grandmother Urdine Bell Messersmith (Lea) lived there until the late 1950's. The family thinks that the Leas' built the house, but do not know for sure or even when it was built, but it was a much loved home. Also there use to be a small log home on the property. William Lea was from London, he came out in 1890 to Leadville to his Aunt's Sarah Jane Harrison Fenney, who had been widowed. Then his mother Johanna, along with his siblings came the following year, Charles, Edward, Rose Ann and Ada Marie. They moved from Leadville to Aspen then found their way to Gypsum around 1892.

I'm so glad you found him, Dede. If you go to our historical photos and do a search on "Lea," you'll find more photos. Jaci

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