Given Institute

Year Listed: 2011
County: Pitkin County
Construction Date: 1972
Threat When Listed: Development
Status: LOST – 2011

Surrounded by heritage trees on a multiple acre lot that overlooks the Hallam Lake Nature Preserve in Aspen, the Given Institute was a modernist architectural masterpiece designed by the renowned Chicago Architect Harry Weese.  Best known for designing the Washington DC metro stations, Weese was commissioned by the University of Colorado School of Medicine to design a place where the top medical minds could meet to exchange ideas and present research findings. Built in 1972 on land donated by the late visionary matriarch of Aspen, Elizabeth Paepcke, the Given Institute stood as evidence of the promise of Aspen as a place of big ideas from the world’s greatest artists, thinkers, and leaders. The Given Institute was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as a site of exceptional importance built within the last 50 years.

Faced with the Given Institute’s annual operating deficits of $200,000 the University of Colorado began actievly seeking a buyer for the $17 million property. With spectacular views of Hallam Lake, residential zoning, and location within walking distance of downtown Aspen, the real estate market deemed the site more valuable as empty land prepped for luxury homes. As a result of these offers, the University filed for and received a demolition permit in June of 2010.

There is little doubt that architecture of the recent past is under assault across the country – master works by Weese and his contemporaries are regularly threatened with demolition as communities struggle to address the preservation of historic buildings less than 50 years old. Weese is acknowledged not only as an architect of new construction, but also as a preservationist who was instrumental in saving many historic buildings through sensitive rehabilitation. When questioned about this in a Time Magazine article from July of 1973, he explained the myriad benefits of historic preservation to a community and then added, “...maybe someone will save one of our buildings some day.”

Unfortunately, and despite a valiant effort by local preservationists and city staff, the Given Institute was demolished in 2011 as a condition of sale to a private owner.  The University of Colorado used a portion of the proceeds from the $13.8 million sale for a building project on their Anschutz Medical Campus, and the remaining $10 million to fund an unrestricted endowment.

Additional Links:
Article on Demolition of Building

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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 jorrigocharlges@coloradopreservation.org.

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