Elk Creek Octagon & Barn at Shaffer’s Crossing

Year Listed: 2018
County: Jefferson County
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect; Vandalism; Abandonment
Status: ALERT

Video courtesy of CBS4

After relocating from Wyoming, the family of Samuel and Sarah Shaffer settled on 35 acres of land along Elk Creek, where the stage coach route crossed, about 35 miles southwest of Denver.  At what became known as Shaffer’s Crossing, four of Samuel Shaffer’s sons (Rollo, Charlie, Tom, and Bert) worked in the family business, which originally included farming, threshing and milling, cutting railroad ties, and trading horses.  The family later turned to running the local store and dance pavilion.  Early homesteaders in the area danced on many a Saturday night at the Crossing’s round white “Octagon” building, which also served as a grange hall.

The Octagon itself has served many purposes, ranging from a school house, grange hall, community center, church, and sheep barn.  The white barn was built around 1903 by Samuel Shaffer and his sons.  The barn was used to store hay in the upper portion, and the lower-level was a horse barn.  The barn was constructed with hand-hewn timbers, tendon joints, and some square nails.  Because the Shaffer’s also had a saw mill on their property near the barn, it is likely that the lumber was milled on site.


The architecture of the Historic Elk Creek Octagon Building is unique, with its steeply pitched roof reminiscent of older European churches, an its 35-40 foot tall pole in the middle.  The remnants of hand-painted flowers and wildlife on ceiling panels remain.  At one end was a stage where many bands performed, including the legendary Isham Jones, the musician and jazz band leader of the 1920s and 30s.  It is here that he composed the popular hit “It Had to Be You.”

“I bet I danced a thousand miles around that thing, just round and round”-JP Hill-Pine Mail Carrier


Today, nearby Staunton State Park includes 320 acres of the once vast land holdings of Joseph, Rollo, and Lisa Shaffer and Clara Shaffer Robinette.  To the south of Highway 285, the Archdiocese of Denver purchased 250 acres of meadow land in  2015 for a large retreat center west of Elk Creek Road and tucked behind the crest of the meadow where the Octagon and barn stand.  The family home, store, and church are long gone, making the Octagon and barn the remaining familiar landmarks on the site, highlighting the case for their preservation.  It is hoped that a use that complements the retreat center can be found for the Octagon and barn.  The Shaffer family descendants are very supportive of the efforts to preserve the structures, and the Jefferson County Historical Commission also voted unanimously to support Endangered Places Program listing. 

Recently the Archdiocese has put their construction plans for a retreat center on hold. Historic Jeffco has also created a PowerPoint with a video concerning the project. Assistance from a 2018 State Historical Fund grant provided stabilization and emergency repairs to the structure, with help from Historicorps. Utilizing foresight and creativity, the preservation of the Octagon and barn will ensure that Shaffers’ Crossing remains the name of this important junction in southwest Jefferson County, for years to come.


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