Downtown library plan fits with Isaac Cooper’s vision |

Downtown library plan fits with Isaac Cooper’s vision

Frontier Diary
Willa Kane
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyConstructed in 1886, Hyde's Hall served as a commercial and community meeting place in the early days of Glenwood Springs. The building stood at 807 Cooper Ave., near the site of today's U.S. Bank drive-up facility.

“The job of buildings is to improve human relations: architecture must ease them not make it worse.”

– Ralph Erskine, architect

For Glenwood Springs founder Isaac Cooper, the construction of substantial and stable buildings was the only way the town could thrive. Without the demonstration that his town possessed progressive mindset, there was no hope of attracting investors or commerce. With the future in mind, Cooper, of the Defiance Town and Land Co., set forth a plan to create a building that would serve the commercial and social interests of the community. The building would become known as Hyde’s Hall.

The groundbreaking of Hyde’s Hall occurred in 1886 on two lots on the west side of the 800 block of Cooper Avenue directly across from today’s Glenwood Springs Fire Department. Cooper’s Defiance Town and Land Co. struck a deal for the construction with Andrew Hyde, the successful builder and owner of a flour mill south of Glenwood Springs. By July 1886 Hyde had commenced construction of the two-story stone building, containing main floor storefronts and a second floor meeting hall. Although not owned by Hyde, the structure bore his name.

Property speculation fueled by construction of two rail lines to Glenwood Springs created a real estate boom in 1887. Riding this wave, in April 1887 the Defiance Town and Land Co. sold Hyde’s Hall to Leadville attorney Joseph Taylor for $2,500. Taylor promptly sold the property less than 60 days later to Mary L. Minor for $4,500.

Mary Minor was a 31-year-old stenographer who had formerly lived in Aspen. She invested in property, possessed mining interests, and adeptly used the legal system when necessary. In June 1887 she was involved in a legal dispute with Andrew Hyde, James Sheridan, who owned a saloon in Hyde’s Hall, and Thomas Quinn, who possibly owned a meat market in the building. However, the dispute was apparently settled. Minor sold Hyde’s Hall to Andrew Hyde in April 1888 for a post boom price of $3,000.

Hyde’s Hall provided a place of worship for the newly formed Methodist Church. Of the community gatherings held there, perhaps the most contentious was the community protest of the hiring of a Chinese cook by Captain E.E. Pray, developer of the South Canyon coal fields. The meeting at Hyde’s Hall forced the departure of the cook and brought the national debate surrounding Chinese immigration to Glenwood Springs.

To finance the purchase from Mary Minor, Andrew Hyde borrowed funds from one of her associates, Aspen real estate broker William J. Miller. When Hyde defaulted on the loan in December 1888, the property passed to Miller. Miller sold the property two years later to former Colorado Attorney General Charles Toll.

Over time, the use of Hyde’s Hall shifted exclusively to commercial use with a meat market and grocery store located in the building for many years. Eventually, the building was razed to make room for parking.

With a new parking structure, library and educational facilities planned for the former Hyde’s Hall site, Isaac Cooper’s vision of having a substantial downtown structure serving community interests has been revived. History is coming full circle.

Willa Kane is former archivist of and a current volunteer with the Frontier Historical Society and Museum. “Frontier Diary,” which appears the first Tuesday of every month, is provided to the Post Independent by the museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Summer hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 945-4448.

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