Frontier Museum is Glenwood’s secret gem
One of Glenwood Springs’ little-known treasures is concealed behind the facade of a genteel old house on a tree-lined street in downtown. The Frontier Museum has been operated at 1001 Colorado Ave. by the Frontier Historical Society since 1972, in a turn-of-the-(last)-century house chock full of neat stuff that gives the visitor a close-up look at the city’s rich past.There is the crazy quilt on the double bed in the master bedroom pieced together with scraps from Baby Doe Tabor’s gowns and made by her dressmaker Bertha Delkar. Baby Doe was the wife of Leadville silver magnate Horace Tabor who lived like a king and died broke, leaving Baby Doe without a penny.In a glass case upstairs is the ornate silver bowl presented to winning polo teams by Walter Devereux, who jump-started Glenwood as the Spa in the Rockies in the late 1800s by building the Hot Springs Pool and the Hotel Colorado.And there are lesser but equally eye-catching displays like the beautifully mounted birds and muskrat stuffed in the early 1900s by Glenwood taxidermist William Cross.
The museum began life as the home and office of Dr. Marshall Dean, who built the house in 1904 and 1905. It was turned over to the historical society after the death of owner Stella Shumate, after Stella died in 1971.More than interesting artifacts, the museum also houses a collection of old newspapers and photographs that chronicle the history of the town.Copies of the area’s first paper, the Avalanche and the weekly Avalanche Echo, which published from the 1890s to 1920, are preserved in both hard copy and on microfilm, said the museum’s director Cindy Hines.The basement also holds files of records from the town’s cemetery and mortuary, as well as old maps.And there’s more.
“We have closets full of stuff,” Hines said.One of the gems of the museum is the Schute collection, donated by former postmaster John Schute, who was an avid and gifted photographer. His pictures record scenes of the city in the 1950s as well as Hanging Lake and Glenwood Canyon.Hines estimates the museum has about 5,000 original negatives in its photograph collection, prints from almost all of which are available for purchase, except where donating families have requested their pictures not be reproduced.The work of the historical society reaches out beyond the doors of the museum. It co-sponsors a winter lecture series with the city library that brings in authors to speak about a variety of subjects. Assistant Director Sue Plush takes trunks full of artifacts into local schools and tells the stories of the pioneers and native Americans.The group has also worked on the Linwood Cemetery where the famous – or infamous – Doc Holliday is buried. The good doctor was a close colleague of Wyatt Earp and fought beside him at the shootout at the OK Corral.
This summer the society plans to improve the trailhead to the cemetery and will add interpretive signs at several spots of historical interest around the city, including the cemetery, the Boy Scout Trail and the South Canyon Coal Camp.Funding for the museum and society comes from annual revenues of $50,000 from a city sales tax, as well as donations, membership dues and fundraisers. Each fall the society hosts the popular Ghost Walk in Linwood Cemetery, where “ghosts” of historical figures appear beside their graves and relate their stories.Donations, volunteers and visitors are always welcome, Hines said.
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