The Astor House Museum may not look exactly the same again, but most of the work to be done won’t even be seen.
However, the structure will be more sound, and the museum will provide an engaging history experience for all.
“That’s what …
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“That’s what we imagine for the next phase of the Astor House,” said Nathan Richie, Golden History Museums director. “We’re excited about this as we move forward.”
The Astor House, 822 12th St. in Golden, closed its doors on Sept. 8 to undergo a major rehabilitation and preservation project. At a members-only informational meeting, Richie estimated that the duration of the project could last until 2017, but is hoping to reopen before the summer season of that year.
Aside from the rehabilitation projects, the rennovated structure should better help tell the stories of boardinghouses and provide a learning atmosphere about their significance in history.
For example, the gift shop will become an orientation gallery, bedrooms will be maintained and new ones will be added, the kitchen will be transformed and the back yard will become an heirloom vegetable and teaching garden, Richie said.
In addition, staff will catalogue nearly every item from the museum, which is a three-story building, and anything that is not related to the Astor House will either be given to other historical organizations or put up for auction, Richie said.
“The building itself was built like a fort,” Richie said, but the project will “strengthen the bones of the building.”
Structural construction work includes inserting steel support beams and columns, adding concrete retaining walls and backyard work to avert water intrusion.
The Astor House “is good for the energy of Golden, and it’s good for museums across the country,” said Andi Pearson, who sits on the board for Golden History Museums.
Golden History Museums members Joyce Nelson and Jill Freimann like the idea of the “refocus plan,” they said.
“We’re a touchy-feely society,” Freimann said. “You can really experience the way it really was.”
Boardinghouses were the heart of a community, Nelson added. “Golden is maintaining its small-town integrity.”
And, they added, it’s good that others can come and learn from Golden’s history.
The cost of the project is nearly a half-million dollars, which is already 70 percent funded, Richie said.
History Colorado, through the State Historical Fund, awarded Golden History Museums a $200,000 grant in 2015. The grant was matched dollar-for-dollar by the City of Golden. In addition, fundraising efforts will continue, Richie said.
The Astor House will be celebrating its 150th year in 2017, Richie said. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is Colorado’s oldest stone hotel.
The Astor House “is important to Golden,” Richie said, “and boardinghouses are important to tell history.”
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