Central City PreservationCentral City's appearance today is very similar to how it looked over 100 years ago. After the fire of 1874, the business district was constructed to last. Only buildings of brick and stone would be built. No more wooden buildings would be constructed downtown with their ever-present potential for destruction by fire. Central City's historic appearance is protected by city ordinance.
[Three panels on this marker describe the history of Central City, Colorado]
[Panel 1]Heritage TourismCentral City is a hidden gem set high in the mountains above the thriving front range hustle and bustle. A trip to Central City guarantees each visitor with a step back in time to a day when miners walked the streets and gold veins ran through the hillsides. Through diligent historic preservation efforts, today, Central City, is very much as it was 100 years ago.
On Eureka Street, from the Court House to Main Street, only one building that existed in 1874 is not there today. That was the white wood Presbyterian Church which stood between the Teller House and the Opera House. Even Henry Teller's Law Office, built about 1860, still survives.
On Lawrence Street, from Main Street east to Raynolds' Court, most of the existing buildings were erected in the 1870s.
On Main Street, only the buildings on the south side of the Gold Coin were built after 1900. The Roworth Block even survived the fire of 1874 and dates to the 1860s.
As money becomes available from the proceeds of limited gambling for historic preservation activities, more of Central City's rich 19th century architecture and heritage will be preserved for the enjoyment and enrichment of future generations.
[Panel 2]Central City HistoryIn 1859, John Gregory discovered "The Gregory Lode" in a gulch just east of present-day Central City. Within two weeks, the gold rush was on and within two months the population grew to 10,000 people seeking their fortunes. William Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News, and some companions pitched their tents on open ground squarely in the center of the mining district. Thus, Central City was born and was soon the leading mining center in Colorado. It came to be known as "the richest square mile on earth."
Not everyone in Colorado struck it rich, but those who settled in Central City were never hard up for wild times. In 1861 alone Central City recorded 217 fist fights, 97 revolver fights, 11 Bowie knife fights and one dog fight. Amazingly, no one was killed.
Even the 1871 Republican Convention in Central City turned rowdy when the second floor of Washington Hall collapsed and deposited 200 (uninjured) men into the recorder's office on the first floor.
In 1872, the Teller House Hotel was built and was said to be the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River. In 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant came to see his good friend Henry Teller (who became the first senator from Colorado) and his new hotel. To impress the President, the gold mine owners decided to lay 26 ingots of solid silver to make a path to the entrance of the Teller House so President Grant wouldn't have to dirty his boots when he stepped from the carriage. Legend has it that Grant became angry when he saw the silver bars and walked up the boardwalk instead. At that time Congress was debating whether gold or silver should back the dollar, and no way would he show favoritism, he said.
In 1874, most of the buildings in Central City were destroyed by fire. The town was rebuilt. This time of brick and stone; most of these buildings are still standing today.
The grand opening of the Central City Opera House in 1878 started a tradition of community theater from opera to vaudeville. Buffalo Bill performed there as well as P.T. Barnum's circus performers. Over the years there have been many famous people have paid a visit to Central City. Many movies have been filmed here, including "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox", portions of the TV mini-series Centennial and Dream West and several Perry Mason episodes.
Marie Curie used pitchblende, mined in an area south of the Glory Hole Mine near Central City, for her radium studies in Paris. Public health practitioner Florence Sabin lived in the mining camp and was among the first female doctors in the west. The first Stetson hat was manufactured here by John B. Stetson. Douglas Shoes, still known for there outstanding wear and durability, were first manufactured here as well.
On Eureka Street, from the Court House to Main Street, only one building that existed in 1874 is not there today. That was the white wood Presbyterian Church which stood between the Teller House and the Opera House. Even Henry Teller's Law Office, built about 1860, still survives. The Teller House and the Masonic Building stopped the fire of 1874 from continuing up Eureka Street.
On Lawrence Street, from Main Street east to Raynold's Court, most of the existing buildings were erected in the 1870s.
On Main Street, only the buildings on the south of the Gold Coin were built after 1900. The Roworth Block even survived the fire of 1874 and dates to the 1860s.As money becomes available for historic preservation activities, from the proceeds of limited gambling, more of Central City's rich 19th century architecture and heritage will be preserved for the enjoyment and enrichment of future generations