OCHS Offers Second Architectural Tour
The Ouray County Historical Society received an
overwhelmingly positive reception for its 2016 home and church
tour. A second historical buildings tour, coming up
July 1, will include even more historic landmarks. The event
showcases some of Ouray’s best-preserved examples of 19th Century
The “Homes, Churches and Historic Buildings” tour
runs from noon to 5:00 p.m. The tour includes eight
locations: four houses, two churches and two historic
buildings. Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased the
day of the event at the historical museum, 420 Sixth Avenue. All
locations on the tour are within walking or a short driving distance of
The tour pass includes refreshments at one of the
locations and admission to the museum. All proceeds benefit the
Ouray County Historical Society.
Tour stops include:
Wheeler-Franz-Meckel House, 602 Oak Street
-- Larry and Barbara Meckel, owners and hosts. Originally a
two-room cabin built in 1880, it was sold to Abbie Wheeler in
1882. She added three bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen-pantry,
tool wood room and two bay windows. Abbie and her husband,
Charles Wheeler, were the parents of Una, who married Richard
Winnerah. Thus the Wheeler home has a family connection to
another residence on the tour. (See the Winnerah-Idarado-Grether
home below.) The Meckels have kept the original house
historically intact so that it remains a visible reminders of Ouray’s
earliest days. The home is now permanently preserved in the Meckel
Winnerah-Idarado-Grether House, 305 Main Street –
Arno Grether, owner and host. The two-story, red sandstone house
has stood on Main Street since 1902. Richard Winnerah, Ouray city
engineer and surveyor, had the house built for his bride, Una.
She was an accomplished photographer who took many photos of the
house’s interior and exterior. The Idarado Mining Company
purchased the house in 1968 and rented it to various people. The
mining company thoroughly renovated it in 1995 and it remains in
Slytown-Risch Cabin, 212 Ninth Avenue
– Bob and Karen Risch, owners and hosts. Bob and Karen believe
the cabin was built in the 1870s judging from its log construction and
square nails. It may have originally been a winter shelter.
The cabin was among the properties purchased by Johnny Raab beginning
in 1890. It may have later been one of Raab’s early 20th Century
tourist cabins. Bob and Karen found a ledger that lists rates as $2-3
per night. In 1941, Raab transferred his properties to his
nephew, Louis Sly. As those properties passed to Sly family
successors, the area became known as Slytown. When Bob and
Karen purchased the cabin and adjacent property in the mid 1990s, they
lived in the cabin while building their house. They have
preserved as many of the cabin’s historic features as possible.
Classic Ouray Folk-Nelson Victorian, 621 Fourth Street
– Kent Nelson, owner and host. Kent, a widely published
author, has owned this home for 40 years. It includes his rustic
writing studio, which will be open to tour participants. His fiction
has received several prestigious awards, including the Colorado Book
Award. An avid birder, he has seen 91 species of birds in his
yard. Kent has spent the past four decades repairing and
improving the house and creating its gardens. Over time, he has
restored every room in the house. During early renovations, he found
newspapers dating to the 1890s that had served as insulation in the
walls. He suspects, because of several sinks in the upstairs
bedrooms, that the house may have been a bordello or rooming house at
Former First Presbyterian Church (now Ouray Christian Fellowship), 336 Fourth Avenue
– Host, Ginny Meunier. Built in 1890, the church was
actually Ouray’s second First Presbyterian Church. Reverend
George Darley founded the first in 1877. Then in 1883, the
congregation lost their church building due to lack of funds and
membership. In 1887, the Ouray Presbyterians reorganized and
planned the current structure, completing the sanctuary in 1890.
Rev. Darley returned to lead the revitalized congregation.
Additions completed in 1948 and 1997 retained the 19th Century Queen
Anne architecture. Many original furnishings adorn the
interior. The present bell tower dates from the 1950s.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, 329 Fifth Avenue – Hosts, Sue and Tom Hillhouse.
The third church built in Ouray, St. John’s was built in 1880 by
Welsh miners. The stone parish hall was completed almost 100 years
later. Parishioners originally met in the basement, constructed
of native stone, which eventually became the sanctuary. Adorned
with carved woodwork and magnificent stained glass windows, the present
sanctuary has the look and feel of a Victorian/Gothic English country
church. In 1978 a connecting stone parish hall was added.
Ouray County Courthouse, 541 Fourth Street – Host, Connie Hunt,
Ouray County Administrator, and staff. The courthouse was
constructed and completed in 1888 for $22,336, plus a later expenditure
of $13,000 for heating and furnishings. The building is listed in the
National Register of Historic Places. The warm tones of the wood
interior, vertical proportions and richly decorative detailing reflect
the building’s Italianate architecture. Impacted through the
years by historical flooding and fire, the courthouse has withstood the
test of time. It remains a working “house of the people” for the
provision of law and order, county government services, and state,
county and municipal proceedings. Considerable repairs have been
completed over the years. The county is now embarking on an
estimated $9.2 million restoration and repair project to be completed
through grants and other funding sources.
BPO Ouray Elks Lodge #492, 421 Main Street – Hosts Jim and Kathy Pettengill.
The Ouray Lodge #492 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was
organized in 1899. It was the first local lodge on the Western
Slope. The Ouray lodge quickly outgrew its rented facilities. The
new building, designed by local grocer and lodge member E.H. Powell,
was completed in 1905. A combination of Queen Anne and Romanesque
styles, it features a large lodge room that also serves as a ballroom,
complete with chandeliers and, of course, elk heads. The bowling alley
on the main floor is still used for league competitions. The
building also includes a kitchen, dining room, pool room and club room.
The Ouray Elks Lodge #492 celebrated its centennial in 1999 and remains
one of the most active organizations in the community.