Leadville train depot set for conversion to event space

freight leadville2

The old railroad depot in Leadville at 910 Hemlock St. (Courtesy Elsa Tharp)

Chugging into Leadville is a new cabin complex and event center built from a turn-of-century train depot.

Golden architects Nan and Dave Anderson, along with their daughter Elsa Tharp, purchased Leadville’s freight depot on 2 acres for $300,000 last summer. Now the family is converting the 4,800-square-foot depot at 910 Hemlock St. into an event space called Freight.

They plan to build 15 cabins on the property for nightly or monthly rentals.

“In conjunction with being a historic depot, we are right downtown,” said Tharp, 31. “We are only two blocks off Main Street.

“You don’t go to Vail and experience culture from the 1800s,” she said. “We have that intact here still in Leadville. It hasn’t been fabricated. It’s just been preserved here.”

Tharp’s parents founded Anderson Hallas Architects in 1990 in Golden, and have completed renovations at the Colorado State Capitol House and projects at the Denver Civic Center, as well as museums, hotels and libraries around the state.

Elsa Tharp

Elsa Tharp

“They’ve been architects for over 30 years, and I have pretty much grown up looking at old buildings,” Tharp said.

Before the Andersons bought the property, it belonged to Smith Lumber Co. In the early 1900s, the company used the nearby railroad to transport lumber out of Leadville.

“We’re trying to turn a 135-year-old shed into a year-round event in a very rugged environment,” Tharp said. “When it was first bought, it was ready to fall over.”

The family installed steel supports, replaced walls and preserved the markings people over the years have etched into the building. The Andersons also are adding bathrooms, a catering kitchen and a utility room to help host weddings, conferences and parties.

“We’ve been going hard and steady since June,” Tharp said. “Our first event is Aug. 25, so it’s a very fast pace.”

By summer 2019, Tharp aims to have three cabins for rent.

“One of Lake County’s huge needs is affordable housing,” she said. “Especially if you want to live by yourself, it’s so hard to find housing at your salary.”

freight leadville2

The old railroad depot in Leadville at…

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