The Grand Lake Area Historical Society is currently working to preserve what is perhaps the nation’s oldest original precursor to the motel.
The society will seek community feedback on plans for its Smith Eslick Cottage Camp project at its meeting on Wednesday, June 11, at 7 p.m.
The Smith Eslick Cottage Camp was supposedly constructed in 1915, the same year Rocky Mountain National Park was established, said Jim Cervenka, president of the Grand Lake Area Historical Society.
The building, like others of its time, was a four-unit motel with a covered carport. However, Cervenka said that the Grand Lake motel is the only one that remains unadulterated, possibly making it the oldest original motel in the United States.
“This one is like it was when it was first built in 1915, which is kind of good news and bad news,” Cervenka said. “The good news being that it’s kind of unique in the nation and bad news meaning that it needs work.”
The Grand Lake Area Historical Society hopes to turn the site into a museum and a sort of historical link between the motor lodge era and the stagecoach era, which is already represented by the Kauffman House Museum in Grand Lake.
Right now, Cervenka’s group is trying to raise $80,000 to purchase a lot adjacent to the motel.
“We’re trying to purchase the adjacent lot so we can exhibit and interpret more of Grand Lake’s history,” Cervenka said.
The group has already raised around $40,000, and Cervenka said he hopes to raise the rest of the money by the end of June. Architect Dennis Humphries, of Humphries Poli Architects, Denver, will present some of his ideas for how the lot can be used at the June 11 meeting.
“The next step is going to be rehabilitation, bringing it up to building code standards and then starting to restore some of the rooms so we can have people come inside of them,” Cervenka said.
The society will hold its June 11 meeting at the Grand Lake Community House.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.