Cripple Creek District Museum
Colorado Trading and Transfer Company Building
The Museum’s History
Opening in 1953, the Cripple Creek District Museum was a community effort to boost tourism and preserve the area’s critical role in the history of the Gold Rush. Then, as now, the mission of the Museum is to collect, preserve, research, and interpret the history and culture of the Cripple Creek Mining District, Teller County, and surrounding area of the District.
After the museum was established, the Museum Board purchased the Colorado Trading and Transfer Company (T & T) building, which is adjacent to the District Museum. It was first used for Museum storage and, eventually, a gift shop. The current Museum Board is forming area partnerships to develop interpretive displays about the history and the future of mining in the Cripple Creek District.
The immediate goal was to ascertain, through a Historical Structure Assessment (HSA), how best to preserve the original historic fabric of the building. Additionally, the HSA explored whether enough historical and existing physical evidence exists to pursue reconstruction of part of the building that was removed sometime between 1919 and 1956.
History and Structure of the Trading and Transfer Company Building
The Colorado Trading and Transfer Co. building was constructed sometime between 1894 and 1895; it was sold in 1895 to house the T & T Company. Selling hay, feed, coal, and, largely, gold, the T & T Company became Cripple Creek’s largest freight business. In collaboration with local mine owners, the Company shipped the ore from the adjacent Midland Depot. When the T & T Company outgrew its 30 x 80-foot space, it added an extension to the back of the building. Because this extension was built on a slope, it was three-stories tall.
The building is constructed of hewn wood posts with lap or shingle wood siding. The exterior of the second floor is covered in mustard-colored shingle siding. The original roofing was probably wood shingle, though it has since been replaced with a metal roof. The first floor was used commercially; the second floor’s layout suggests use as apartments or offices. On the second floor, the original pantry for the kitchen that has been removed still exists. The downstairs served as offices while the addition was used for storage.
Miraculously, devastating fires in April of 1896 spared the T & T building and the Midland Terminal Depot – the only surviving commercial structures in the entire city of Cripple Creek. Following the fire, a city ordinance required structures to be built of brick, and the T & T building is now the only wooden commercial structure in the city that predates the fire.
The Preservation Mission
In 1992, the City of Cripple Creek’s Historic Preservation Commission advised the Museum that the T & T building was “the most historic structure in the city of Cripple Creek….” They encouraged the city to “landmark” the building to protect it from changes that would compromise its historic integrity. The City of Cripple Creek funded improvements to the building to put it on a more solid foundation, which included installation of a climate-controlled storage vault in the basement. What remained was assessment of the remaining parts of the building that were not included in the previous rehabilitation.
Funding and Phases
Funding was received from the State Historical Fund in the amount of $10,000.
The Historic Assessment was completed in 2013.
Kathy Reynolds, Museum Director
Timothy Stroh, Preservation Architect
Charise Boomsma, Preservation Consultant, M.A. in Architectural History, University of Colorado