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A gift of historic proportions in Carbondale

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Photo courtesy of John Stroud. Mt. Sopris Historical Society Museum caretaker Linda Criswell checks out an old-fashioned phone passed along from the Frontier Historical Society in Glenwood Springs. The museum is located in a homesteader's cabin that also belonged to the Thompson family.

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When the Mt. Sopris Historical Society board received a letter from the Thompson family a while back asking if the organization would be willing to accept the classic brick Victorian house across the highway from their little museum as a donation, “our hearts almost stopped,” recalled Linda Romero Criswell.

“It was more than we ever hoped for,” she said of the prospect of adding one of the first significant structures built in Carbondale to the volunteer organization’s collection.

Criswell is one of seven members on the historical society’s board of directors, and also volunteers as caretaker of the museum that sits at the corner of Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard in one of the homesteader’s cabins that also came from the former Thompson Ranch when the River Valley Ranch subdivision and golf course was built there in the mid-1990s.

Dedication of the old ranch’s 122-year-old centerpiece as a public museum moved a step closer to reality when the Carbondale Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval for a plan to annex and develop about 10 acres surrounding the house.

As part of the deal, Thompson Park developer Frieda Wallison and the Thompson family agreed to donate the house as a public amenity.

Much is yet to be worked out between the town, the developer and the historical society as far as how that will happen. But to bring the house into the fold would mark a big step in the small organization’s evolution from a volunteer-run group to a full-time professional historical society.

The original one-story house was built by homesteader Myron Thompson around 1887 and was added onto by family members over the next 32 years, including a second story and glassed-in porch.

The structure and its contents have remained essentially unaltered over the years, a reminder of the farming lifestyle that defined Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley through the early and middle 20th century.

The contents, including period furniture and decor and several items from the early 20th century that are still in working order, such as a washing machine, cream separator and Victrola, were already dedicated to the historical society and have been appraised at about $110,000, Criswell said.

When the Mt. Sopris Historical Society board received a letter from the Thompson family a while back asking if the organization would be willing to accept the classic brick Victorian house across the highway from their little museum as a donation, “our hearts almost stopped,” recalled Linda Romero Criswell.

“It was more than we ever hoped for,” she said of the prospect of adding one of the first significant structures built in Carbondale to the volunteer organization’s collection.

Criswell is one of seven members on the historical society’s board of directors, and also volunteers as caretaker of the museum that sits at the corner of Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard in one of the homesteader’s cabins that also came from the former Thompson Ranch when the River Valley Ranch subdivision and golf course was built there in the mid-1990s.

Dedication of the old ranch’s 122-year-old centerpiece as a public museum moved a step closer to reality when the Carbondale Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval for a plan to annex and develop about 10 acres surrounding the house.

As part of the deal, Thompson Park developer Frieda Wallison and the Thompson family agreed to donate the house as a public amenity.

Much is yet to be worked out between the town, the developer and the historical society as far as how that will happen. But to bring the house into the fold would mark a big step in the small organization’s evolution from a volunteer-run group to a full-time professional historical society.

The original one-story house was built by homesteader Myron Thompson around 1887 and was added onto by family members over the next 32 years, including a second story and glassed-in porch.

The structure and its contents have remained essentially unaltered over the years, a reminder of the farming lifestyle that defined Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley through the early and middle 20th century.

The contents, including period furniture and decor and several items from the early 20th century that are still in working order, such as a washing machine, cream separator and Victrola, were already dedicated to the historical society and have been appraised at about $110,000, Criswell said.

When the Mt. Sopris Historical Society board received a letter from the Thompson family a while back asking if the organization would be willing to accept the classic brick Victorian house across the highway from their little museum as a donation, “our hearts almost stopped,” recalled Linda Romero Criswell.

“It was more than we ever hoped for,” she said of the prospect of adding one of the first significant structures built in Carbondale to the volunteer organization’s collection.

Criswell is one of seven members on the historical society’s board of directors, and also volunteers as caretaker of the museum that sits at the corner of Highway 133 and Weant Boulevard in one of the homesteader’s cabins that also came from the former Thompson Ranch when the River Valley Ranch subdivision and golf course was built there in the mid-1990s.

Dedication of the old ranch’s 122-year-old centerpiece as a public museum moved a step closer to reality when the Carbondale Board of Trustees gave preliminary approval for a plan to annex and develop about 10 acres surrounding the house.

As part of the deal, Thompson Park developer Frieda Wallison and the Thompson family agreed to donate the house as a public amenity.

Much is yet to be worked out between the town, the developer and the historical society as far as how that will happen. But to bring the house into the fold would mark a big step in the small organization’s evolution from a volunteer-run group to a full-time professional historical society.

The original one-story house was built by homesteader Myron Thompson around 1887 and was added onto by family members over the next 32 years, including a second story and glassed-in porch.

The structure and its contents have remained essentially unaltered over the years, a reminder of the farming lifestyle that defined Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley through the early and middle 20th century.

The contents, including period furniture and decor and several items from the early 20th century that are still in working order, such as a washing machine, cream separator and Victrola, were already dedicated to the historical society and have been appraised at about $110,000, Criswell said.


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