Murdock Building Rehabilitation

Murdock Building rehabilitated exterior

History of the Building

The Murdock Building consists of three separate structures (Slater, Whitelaw and Schoggen buildings), located in historic downtown Eads, Colorado, founded in 1887 when the Missouri Pacific Railroad extended its line through Kiowa County to Pueblo.

Eads, circa 1930

Maine Street grew into the bustling gathering place for all who lived, farmed, ranched, worked on the railroad or passed through the area. Families would break from their extensive daily chores and conduct shopping trips to get groceries, dry goods, feed and other supplies in downtown Eads. The buildings at the corner of Thirteenth and Maine streets served as a commercial hub and backdrop for social life of Kiowa County and Eads, its county seat, for a century.

Murdock Building, east side of Eads Maine Street, 1920s
Murdock Building, east side of Eads Maine Street, present day

Together and separately, each of Murdock Building’s structures functioned for a variety of purposes throughout history. J. H. Slater constructed First National Bank on the corner in 1908. When the bank moved in 1918, the building became Strahan’s Café, Gambles variety store, a flower shop and the gas utility headquarters. In 1911, Walter Whitelaw built a dry goods and grocery store, which he operated with his partner Etta Obrien. A grocery store developed on the third lot by Whitelaw and Mittje Schoggen in the 1930s.

First National Bank, est. 1908
Murdock Building, circa 1915
Murdock Building, Schoggen, 1970s
Murdock Building, Schoggen, present day

For decades, the Whitelaw and Schoggen Blocks remained the home of Wissels Dry Goods and Grocery store, with the second floors utilized as offices, a rooming house and public meeting rooms. When Wissels closed in 1998, the building was purchased by Teresa Witte and David Murdock, who operated Teresa’s Flower Shop. The partners purchased the Slater Block in 1999 and the three buildings became known as the Murdock Building. As time passed, commercial activity and population in Eads declined, leaving the Murdock Building vacant and deteriorating.

Murdock Building, 2007

Future of the Building

A new opportunity arose when Kiowa County purchased the Murdock Building in 2007 with vision and plans to rehabilitate these structures for use as the visitor center for Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site (20 miles east of town), Center for Sand Creek Massacre Studies (learn more from Sand Creek Massacre Foundation) and National Park Service offices, along with Eads Senior Citizens Center. After more than 10 years of extensive restoration efforts, National Park Service moved into its space in April 2020, as work on the Senior Citizens Center concludes later in the year.

Murdock Building, future home of Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Research and Visitor Center, 2019

This unique partnership, creating gathering spaces for seniors and explorers at Sand Creek National Historic Site Research and Visitor Center, offers additional opportunity to revive a thriving center of small-town life in Eads and Kiowa County. Historic preservation on the 1300 block of Maine Street continues strengthening the community. Across the street from the Murdock Building is Crow Luther Event Center, including a rehabilitated historic theater district and the Nipps-Bransgrove building, just south of the Murdock Building, rehabilitated to house county offices.

Project Description

A labor-intensive process of more than a decade rehabilitated the historic structure, incorporating an energy-efficient design and creating a functional space with remaining historic fabric adding to the atmosphere. This work included; heaps of debris removed, asbestos abated, floor and roof structures replaced, foundations stabilized, brick repointed, windows repaired, storefronts replaced, public utilities, fire sprinklers and alarms established.

Murdock Building exterior rehabilitation
Murdock Building interior rehabilitation

Project Partners

This distinctive project came to fruition through partnerships established and nurtured during the years. Funding provided through grants from State Historical Fund, Department of Local Affairs, National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Kiowa County, in-kind from Colorado Preservation, Eads Chamber of Commerce, Kiowa County National Bank and Governor’s Energy Office.

(Page updated November 2020)

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Preservation for a Changing Colorado

The 2017 update, Preservation for a Changing Colorado, resulted from a partnership between Colorado Preservation and History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. Prepared by Clarion Associates, the new report and accompanying website document the economic benefits of rehabilitation projects, analyzes property values and neighborhood stability in local historic districts, and summarizes the increasing impact of heritage tourism, private preservation development and the success of Colorado’s Main Street program. In a key finding, researchers found that for every $1 million spent on historic preservation in Colorado leads to $1.03 million in additional spending, 14 new jobs, and $636,700 in increased household incomes across the state! The 2017 report also considers the important role preservation plays in helping Coloradans provide new spaces for creative communities and co-working, create and sustain meaningful places, respond to the state’s changing demographics, and address climate concerns. Click Here to see the full report, "Preservation for a Changing Colorado".