By Matt Kroschel
LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4)– When Elsa Tharp and her parents decided to buy the old freight depot, most people said they were crazy.
The building, constructed in 1884, was literally collapsing around them. But the family had a vision and that is slowly becoming a reality, one year later.
“You can’t help but hang out with the past… their names are written all over the wall. People have put their initials into the walls over the last three century. The past is alive and you can’t ignore it,” Tharp told CBS4 Tuesday.
Tharp gave CBS4 crews exclusive access to the construction rehab project.
The depot, turned into a lumber storage building before that, closed a decade ago.
“It’s now going to be a family owned business just like it used to be,” Tharp said.
The developers hope their efforts will bring this space back to life- creating a community gathering spot and helping Leadville grow- while holding tight to its storied past.
“I think anybody else would’ve probably just demolish this place and here they are just dumping thousands and thousands of dollars in time and love into making this an awesome building,” local businessman Jack Saunders says.
His family is scheduled to host the first event in August inside the space: his daughter’s wedding.
It’s a special place because Saunders used to purchase all the supplies for his contracting business from the former lumber yard that was housed inside the space after the railroad sold the depot.
“While the lead railroad no longer brings freight through Leadville, it definitely brings people here still and we want to continue to be a part of that in this building continue to bring people in memories through Leadville,” Tharp added.
The “Freight” community space will have a commercial kitchen, new bathrooms, ballroom, and a conference room. The plan is to eventually add small cabins to the property that will be rented out. Some may be leased by local workers for affordable housing.
Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.