Doc Holliday Museum set for August opening

Carla Jean Whitley

There’s a small but clear note on each of the doors at Bullock’s: “Doc Holliday died here November 8, 1887.” The downtown apparel-and-furniture store sits on the former site of Glenwood Springs Hotel, where the notorious gambler and gunfighter died 130 years ago.

Until recently, that stenciled sentence was alone in marking the place where Holliday died of tuberculosis. But soon, Bullock’s will also host the Doc Holliday Museum.

“I think we’re so overdue to try and grasp Doc Holliday,” said shop owner Bill Bullock. “We’ve got a famous character, and the town’s never really taken advantage of it.”

The project, set to open Aug. 12, is the first satellite museum created by the Glenwood Springs Historical Society. Executive Director Bill Kight said he hopes future partnerships will result in more satellite locations throughout downtown.

“We’ve got a famous character, and the town’s never really taken advantage of it.”— Bill Bullock,owner, Bullock’s

The derringer the society purchased this spring will be the museum’s centerpiece. The gun for which the society paid $84,000 was believed to have been with Holliday when he died. However, after its purchase, new information cast doubt on the gun’s provenance.

Authentic or not, the exhibit will explain the gun’s story (which likely stems from a tall tale spun in a 1960s affidavit) and highlight other information about Holliday and artifacts from the period. A newspaper wall will offer context, and a flat-screen television will show video related to Holliday.

Early in the year, the society conducted a survey to learn what the public would like to see. This sort of increased visibility in the community was high on the resulting wish list.

The location couldn’t be better “as far as where it is located and what used to be here,” said Barry Dunsdon, a historical society board member who is working on the space’s construction.

The museum will be located in the shop’s basement, where a portion of the building’s original foundation is visible. Street-level signage will alert passersby to its existence.

As it is, Bullock said the sign on the door draws plenty of attention.

“I’m amazed … how many tours we do a day,” he said.

The museum is slated for a VIP event Aug. 11 and grand opening Aug. 12, which will coincide with a downtown block party. Holliday’s birthday is Aug. 14.

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