Glenwood Springs’ Eagles building soaring back to original form
A historic piece of property, which over the course of its 130 years in Defiance and Glenwood Springs has accommodated everything from an opera house to the local Fraternal Order of the Eagles Aerie, has sold.
Located in the heart of downtown Glenwood Springs at 312 Seventh St., the iconic building constructed in 1888 originally stood as a one-story, hardware store with a stove until the retail space was transformed into Durand’s Opera House in the early 1890s, with the addition of a stage, auditorium and rear fly loft.
Over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries the building hosted U.S. presidents such as Benjamin Harrison, musical acts such as John Philip Sousa and his band, and a prize fight put on by actor Tom Mix, who at the time was in town filming what went on to become “The Great K & A Train Robbery.”
First known as Durand’s Opera House and then Glenwood Springs Opera House, the Art Deco brick building also housed the Odeon Theater and later the Odeon Dance Hall.
However, since being put on the market this spring, the property served as home to the local Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie, which recently had to disband due to dwindling membership.
After numerous parties showed interest in the Seventh Street property, ultimately it fell into the hands of numerous investors, going by the name LANDJ, LLC. The building sold June 13 for a reported $1,360,000, according to Garfield County Assessor’s records.
According to Integrated Mountain Properties broker associate Phil Maniscalchi, if the new owners do in fact lease the space out, the historic piece of property may house what its original intent was all along, while keeping the future landscape of Seventh Street in mind.
“The buyers are a collective of investors that have a source here in the valley … and they acquired the building for roughly a million four,” Maniscalchi said. “But, yes, it is a collective that already has investments in Glenwood Springs.”
According to Maniscalchi, originally, Riviera Supper Club and Piano Bar Owner Jonathan Gorst in conjunction with various investors had their eyes on acquiring and re-imagining Mr. Durand’s original vision for the Seventh Street building.
“They were the ones who had the first offer on the building. It was [Gorst], teaming up with the theater company, and also a group of investors trying to put money together to try and turn this building back into a theater … to retain its historical integrity,” Maniscalchi explained.
Although that deal ultimately fell through, the new owners’ philosophy for the property does not shy too far from that of Gorst’s. And, although Gorst and his team could not outright purchase the building, the buyers may partner with Gorst by leasing the majority of the venue to the renowned Glenwood pianist. They are reportedly looking to rent out the front portion as retail or restaurant space.
Although no formal lease agreement between the new collective group of owners and Gorst has finalized, the Riviera owner’s tone sounded as upbeat as a major piano chord.
“It definitely was the Durand Opera House, and it was called the Odeon Theater in the ‘30s, and we are going to go for a more music hall approach,” Gorst said.
A music hall that could host various acts from touring productions to local bands all complemented by a possible bar and restaurant in the front of the venue.
Gorst did acknowledge that, although still negotiating a possible lease, he feels very confident a deal that benefits all parties involved will see ink on paper in the near future.
A sentiment Maniscalchi also shared.
“I put [the new owners] in touch with Jonathan Gorst and the theater company so that Jonathan could still bring his vision to life,” Maniscalchi said. “As far as I know, they will be leasing to Jonathan Gorst so that they can keep the historical integrity of the building intact and turn it back into a theater.”