About the Eslick Store & Office Restoration Project

The Eslick Store and Office is a small, single-story building constructed in 1933 as a mercantile and visitor check-in, the final component in the Smith-Eslick family’s Cottage Camp lodging business. The building is adjacent to the already restored Smith-Eslick Cottage Court, the first local lodging designed specifically for short-stay auto-tourists, and now operating as a unique museum.

Aerial view of the Eslick Store and Office in its original location in the 1950s.
Aerial view of the Eslick Store and Office in its original location in the 1950s.

The restoration project will repair the building’s exterior and rehabilitate the interior as the site’s welcome center, public restroom, and small income-generating gift shop, similar to its original use. Preserving the Eslick Store and Office is pivotal to the completion of the Cottage Camp historic site and community events site in Grand Lake, Colorado.

The south face of the Eslick Store and Officebuilding in 2020.
The South face of the Eslick Store and Office was once shiny glass inviting visitors from the main road. It is now boarded up and in dire need of repair.

The all-volunteer Grand Lake Area Historical Society (GLAHS) has as its mission to preserve, protect and promote the history of the area. This mission can only be accomplished with the sustained support of the community, especially vital as the town’s historic nature is routinely threatened by developers and others temporarily unfamiliar with our area. Grand Lake is noted both for its beautiful surrounding landscapes and its appealing rustic architecture and historic charm; both are economic drivers of the area’s tourist economy, and both are essential to the well-being of its citizens. The GLAHS has successfully operated its Victorian-era museum, the Kauffman House, since 1973, and it continues to share the early history of the area with locals and visitors. 

The renovated Cottage Court Museum
The renovated Cottage Court Museum

However, the GLAHS’s new museum, the Cottage Court, and its surrounding community events area, draw many who haven’t attended the Kauffman House. This happens, perhaps, because this second site tells about more recent history, offering facts about how we came to live in our fast-everything economy, and is located in the side of town that has never before had a place dedicated to the interpretation of area history.

Sketch map of current site of the Eslick Store and Office
Sketch map of the current Eslick Store and Office site. Click to view the full-sized map.

To date, the community of individual donors and local funders has provided more than three-fourths of the $679,000 already invested in the purchase of land, moving the Cottage Court to prevent its imminent demolition, restoration of the Cottage Court, and more. 

All this can and must now be activated by our volunteer tour guides who interpret the site, sharing extraordinary changes resulting from the advent of automobiles, and the early entrepreneurs and strong local citizens who formed our town and nation. Almost as often, our volunteers act as navigators to community services for visitors and citizens new to our town. Perhaps, therefore, the most important reason for the Eslick Store and Office restoration project is to provide a sheltered base for these essential volunteer tour guides. 

We have in-hand construction and engineering plans for the Eslick Store and Office restoration project, funded in part by the State Historical Fund. It will be a complicated but entirely worthwhile endeavor; placement of the building on its first-ever permanent foundation, restoration of the exterior, installation of utilities, and rehabilitation of the interior. We need your support to not only help fund this critical project but also to demonstrate the validity of the project to other funding prospects.