Crested Butte’s national historic town designation and laid back ski resort atmosphere has paid off in the form of new recognition as a national "historic hot spot". The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Crested Butte and 11 other U.S. historic cities as America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations. We’re the only ski resort town named on the list – which is pretty cool!
Read the article borrowed from Bill Scanlon of the Rocky Mountain News.
Crested Butte named historic hot spot
By Bill Scanlon of Rocky Mountain News
Killer slopes, stunning wildflowers and a Victorian downtown combined to earn Crested Butte designation as one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation tapped Crested Butte, lying at 8,800 feet between Gunnison and Aspen, for the honor, which spotlights places that offer cultural and recreational experiences starkly different than the typical vacation destination.
The judges noted that the former mining town has held true to its 19th-century heritage, while offering the best of skiing and mountain biking to the most hard-core adventurer.
The main street in the town of 1,600 "oozes charm," and the city exudes a friendly warmth and peaceful ambience, said officials from the National Trust.
"There are a lot of adults here who have tasted density, and they want serenity," said Don Cook, who moved to Crested Butte 31 years ago, and later founded the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame and Museum, housed in downtown Crested Butte.
The mountains drew him, but the people are the reason he stays, Cook said. "There’s a strong sense of volunteerism. People want to give time to whatever their organization is."
He remembers the dirt downtown streets, the potholes so big that it was faster to ride a bike through town than trying to wend throgh the streets in a car.
So, he’s not criticizing all of the improvements that popularity brought.
But he Cook worries about changes that have come the past dozen years, as people with a lot of money have pushed up real estate prices and started demanding the same services they enjoyed where they used to live.
"I ask them, ‘Why do you want to change this? Why do you want to bring in this, and change that? If it’s not what you’re looking for, why did you move here?’"
Crested Butte attracts educated people who’ve decided they don’t want 9 to 5, 50-week-a-year jobs, Cook said. "We get people who say life is more important than living the status quo," he said, "who want to work two days a week and have five days off."
There are plenty of great mountain towns in Colorado, but darn few that still have escaped the tourism commercialism and still retain the old buildings of their mining past, he said.
The National Trust cited Crested Butte’s "vibrant design of a Victorian-era village, with its wooden false-front buildings, street-corner flower boxes and antique lampight."
Nineteenth-century buildings on Elk Avenue have been reinvented as coffee shops, quaint restaurants and specialty shops, they said.
The Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, built in 1883, once was a blacksmith shop, but now is a repository for relics from the town’s mining era and more recent skiing history. Portraits of early residents, many of them immigrants from Croatia and Slovenia, lined the wall.
"Crested Butte is a delightful hidden gem that offers a rare mix of beauty, history and adventure," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The 2008 list of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations includes:
The other 11 towns or cities winning the designation:
Fort Davis, Texas
Friday Harbor, Wash.
Red Wing, Minn.
Ste. Genevieve, Mo.
San Juan Bautista, Calif.
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