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Eagle County Historical Society asks community to ‘Raise the Roof’ for historic Chambers Dairy Barn restoration

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December 10, 2019, 9:54 am
Built in 1899, the barn was in tough shape when it was donated in 1980.

The Eagle County Historical Society museum, housed in a 120-year-old former dairy barn in Eagle, is in need of a new roof and a good paint job. The hard-working Society has been raising and setting aside funds for capital projects for the past several years, but needs a bit of extra help with this major project. This week, the ECHS launched a “Raise the Roof” campaign, hoping to bring in the final $25,000 needed to make those improvements.

The beloved barn, built in 1899, was acquired from a local rancher in 1980. Historical Society founders spent four years raising money and assessing the logistics of moving the dilapidated structure to a public park in Eagle. Volunteers worked another seven years to transform the rickety building into a habitable, workable museum. The museum opened in June of 1991, featuring exhibits that tell the history of Eagle County from the time of Ute habitation to the development of the Vail ski resort.

Now the barn serves a great purpose but needs some love.

“To quote John Steinbeck, ‘How will we know it’s us without our past?’,” said Kathy Heicher, ECHS president. “Preserving history sustains a community. A new museum roof is essential to protecting Eagle County’s historic treasures.”

Heicher leads the ECHS in educating residents and visitors about Eagle County’s rich history. The society approaches this through a number of outreach efforts including cemetery tours, history hikes, educational programs, and preservation of historic buildings and landscapes. The extensive history archives, housed at the Eagle Public Library, and the museum serve thousands of locals and visitors annually.

Vail resident Charlyn Canada helped start the museum, remembers the founders who saved and organized photos, documents and artifacts and collected stories with the intent of preserving the county’s history for future generations.

“The Eagle County History Museum stands as a testament of appreciation for the hardy souls who worked through the decades to keep the communities along the Eagle River advancing with the times. Eagle County’s record is unique in time and place, and it is important,” said Canada.

The shake shingle roof on the museum dates to 1986. The ECHS has determined that a metal roof will be the most effective, long-term solution in maintaining the structure. The building exterior needs a fresh coat of paint and some minor repairs. The additional $25,000 sought by the ECHS would complete a budget of $60,000. Longtime local Merv Lapin kicked off the fundraising effort with a $1,000 contribution.

If the ECHS fundraising goal is reached, the new museum roof will be installed and additional repairs made in 2020.

How to Contribute

  • Participate via Colorado Gives http://coloradogives.org/ECHS to make an online contribution.
  • Visit the Eagle County Historical Society at the Minturn Market on Saturday, Dec. 14 to learn more about Eagle County’s history and make a cash or check donation in person.
  • Donate anytime online at https://eaglecountyhistoricalsociety.com/donate/ or mail a check to Eagle County Historical Society, PO Box 192, Eagle, CO 81631.

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