Friday, January 30, 2009

Teller Courthouse requires no time machine


Tiring of having to go all the way to Colorado Springs to register land, mining, and other official documents, and seeing their tax dollars travel down the hill, mine owners and others pushed hard for the creation of Teller County is the 1890s. Teller County was created out of western El Paso County and the Northeastern tip of Freemont on March 23, 1899.
The property where the Courthouse now rests, at 101-105 West Bennett Avenue, was at one time owned by the Stanely brothers who sold it to Stewart McDougall shortly after the fires of 1896 destroyed wood structures that once resided there, according to Brian Levine’s book “Cripple Creek: City of Influence.” Levine was Historic Preservation Director for Cripple Creek at the time of writing the 1994 book.
McDougall built a 100-foot wide, 2-story brick building that the Palace Hotel leased and after Teller County was established, county offices resided. In 1900, the county purchased the property and proceeded on plans to build a grand courthouse building.
Architect A.J. Smith of Colorado Springs designed the building and general contractor J.E. Devy was hired to build.
“After being finished in 1904 at a cost of $60,000, the Courthouse proudly displayed the following features: gilt chandeliers, oak paneling with mahogany trims, skylights, gold standing electric fixtures (the building originally required 400 electric lamps to light it), standpipes with hose nozzle attachments, public drinking fountains, two 75-horse power boilers for steam heat, a Skinner high-speed engine with 110-volt dynamo for electricity, hardwood floors, and marble counters,” wrote Levine.
The Teller County Courthouse has changed very little in the last century. Fortunately for us, we all have opportunity to step back in time to 100 years ago, with a quick visit to 101 Bennett Avenue — no-time machine equipment required.
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