Fourth Street Commercial District – Downtown Saguache

Year Listed: 2009
County: Saguache County
Construction Date: Various – 1874-1940
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Vacant


Several of the buildings that anchor the 4th Street Business District date to the town’s incorporation date of 1874. Serving as the trade and business center for much of the historic San Luis Valley, Saguache represents both in history and in architectural detail an example of an early Colorado frontier town. The building stock of this district includes two banks, a newspaper office which operates the last “hot metal press” in Colorado, a hotel, two mercantiles, a mercantile warehouse, a saloon, a theater, and the County Courthouse. A striking feature of these buildings is the variety of architectural styles that are used, including Italianate, Classical Revival, Nineteenth Century Commercial, and Twentieth Century Commercial influences.

Due to a slow continual economic decline, some of these businesses have had to board up many of the rooms and floors in the buildings that they occupy. In addition, a handful of the buildings have been abandoned, neglected and have begun to decay. There are severe structural issues with many of the sites including facades that are crumbling, brickwork that is falling off, and windows that are broken or damaged. Additionally, several of the “Main Street” businesses have been converted into residences, further threatening the economic development aspects of the 4th Street Business District. Saguache is the poorest county in Colorado, and for many years now there have been only a handful of viable businesses on 4th Street.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. has been working closely with the Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development (ScSEED) Board in order to complete an architectural inventory survey that will be utilized to determine National Register eligibility for downtown Saguache. Additionally, the Ute Theater, which was shuttered in 2005, reopened in June after new owners completed substantial renovation work that included ADA compliance while retaining historic features such as the straw-stuffed seats and a 1947 Manley popcorn machine.  In 2012, additional survey forms for the town were completed, including identifying several buildings that were omitted in the previous survey.  A National Register of Historic Places District nomination for 4th Street was prepared and the Saguache Downtown Historic District was listed in July 2014.

The site has seen considerable improvement since it was listed in 2009.  Two of the large anchor buildings in the district need to be addressed- the hotel and a large two-story building on the corner.

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Featured Project

4 Bar 4 Ranch

Homesteaded in 1895 by Dick McQueary to provide a stop for the Georgetown Stage Line, the 320-acre 4 Bar 4 Ranch has strong ties to Grand County and Colorado's heritage. The Georgetown Stage Line traveled on the road through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch from Idaho Springs to Hot Sulphur Springs over Berthoud Pass. In 1895 a roadhouse and stage stop were constructed on the ranch. The hotel and barn were constructed using trees from the Ranch property, and the hotel remained open for travelers coming over Berthoud Pass by horseback and wagon until 1913. With the coming of the automobile, the roadway over Berthoud Pass and through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch was considered an integral part of the Trans-Continental “Midland Trail” highway. Following the closing of the stage line, the ranch continued to host travelers until 1912 or 1913 when it was purchased and converted into a Ford Motor Company . Ford vehicles were sold here until 1917, when Harry Larkin purchased the ranch site. Today emergency efforts are underway to ensure it survives through the winter. Donations are in need. To learn more, contact Jennifer Orrigo Charles at

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