St. Elmo Projects
Go west on County Road 162 from Highway 24 between Buena Vista and Salida.
Following the destruction by fire of the Town Hall/Jail building in the historic mining town of St. Elmo in April 2002, the St. Elmo Property Owners’ Association transferred ownership of the St. Elmo Schoolhouse and Town Hall to Buena Vista Heritage. The St. Elmo residents were the stewards of these two properties for many years, starting in 1959, but received the ownership of the School House from School District R-31 in 1975 and the Town Hall from Chaffee County in 1989. Thanks to their efforts, the buildings have been preserved through the many years.
Restoration of the schoolhouse is complete, funded by a $73,740 grant from the State Historic Fund and nearly $25,000 in private donations. Fundraising for rebuilding the St. Elmo Town Hall has concluded, and we now begin fundraising for the furnishing of the building's interior.
When completed, the schoolhouse and town hall/jail will become museums depicting life in the mining town.
The St. Elmo Schoolhouse
Exterior restoration and interior cleaning began in 2004 and was completed in 2005. The building was open to the public beginning June 2006.
The St. Elmo Schoolhouse Museum is a work in progress. The objective of Buena Vista Heritage was to open the doors and share this much loved building with our local community and visitors as soon as restoration was complete. We deliberately chose not to clutter the Museum with information, to preserve its feeling of character in place and time.
We welcome visitors to step back in time and enjoy this magnificent treasure of our history. The St. Elmo Schoolhouse is open for viewing in the summer. You may enter the cloakrooms and then look through the protective glass into the class room.
Buena Vista Heritage and the St. Elmo Property Owner's Association host school tours at St. Elmo.
The St. Elmo Town Hall and Jail
At the annual meeting of the St. Elmo Property Owner's Association held in St. Elmo on Saturday, July 6, 2002, the association passed a resolution to take the necessary steps to convey the School House and Town Hall properties to the Buena Vista Heritage. After a long discussion considering tax exempt status, eligibility for grants and the limited manpower available for work, the group decided on the transfer.The property owners' association received a historic assessment grant from the Colorado Historic Fund and has received a grant to work on the town hall before the April 2002 fire that destroyed the Town Hall, Jail and Stark buildings. We are fortunate that the historic structure assessment of the town hall/jail had been completed before the fire, in anticipation of restoring the structure. In addition, sufficient photographs exist to aid in the design and reconstruction of the building as closely as possible to its original design.
The Buena Vista Heritage Board determined in April 2006 that sufficient funds and inkind donations had been raised to complete the first phase of this project. Older Than Dirt Construction of Salida has nearly completed the project. On Sept. 6, 2008 several volunteers helped paint the front of the building and stain the interior.
Donations from El Pomar Foundation, the Boettcher Foundation, Gates Family Foundation and Chaffee County, as well numerous individual donors and the St. Elmo Property Owners Association, have made this dream a reality.
(Top photo courtesy of Kevnick Photography)