Historic Structures

Mt. Evans Crest House, Idaho Springs Colorado

Date added: January 24, 2010 Categories: Colorado Hotel

The Mt. Evans Crest House represents the highest business structure in the United States, Located at the summit of Mt. Evans, at 14,260 feet, this structure is one of the oldest architectural features at such an altitude. The Mt. Evans Crest House not only represents very unusual architecture, but it also is at the top of the highest paved automobile road in America. The Mt. Evans Crest House, until it burned in 1979, was a significant architectural design in a very unusual location.

The Mt, Evans Crest House, located at an altitude of 14,260 feet above sea level on the summit of Mt. Evans, Colorado, was built in 1939-1941, just prior to World War II, by Justus "Gus" Roehllng. The structure was designed by Denver architect Edwin A. Francis who created a building that incorporated the rugged, above-timberline environment with a tourist attraction where some 100,000 visitors a year could overlook the plains of Colorado to the east and the Continental Divide to the west.

The Crest House cost some $50,000 to build and was constructed by Thayer Tutt of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, J. Quigg Newton, later Mayor of Denver, and W.S. Gamsey III, were investors. The purpose of the building was to take advantage of the auto road to the summit, as a concession, and to serve the numerous visitors who found their way up the mountain.

The Crest House was operated by the Broadmoor Hotel Company until 1956 when it was sold to Helen Wilson Stewart, operator of the Pike's Peak Summit House. At that time, the Stewart Corporation, which is a family business, operated the Crest House as a place to buy souvenirs, as a coffee shop where the famous Pike's Peak donuts were also made, and as an emergency center. Oxygen was available, as was first aid for hikers and climbers. Often the Crest House was the center of operations for search and rescue forces seeking a lost hiker.

The Crest House was under the managetaent of William Stewart Carle and his son William, Junior. The Carle's continued to manage the property after it reverted to the U.S. Forest Service in 1969, as part of the original lease/permit agreement. Since Mt. Evans is owned by the Forest Service, the Crest House was built as a leased inholding.

On September 1, 1979, a propane gas leak caused a fire that gutted the Crest House. The Idaho Springs Volunteer Fire Department made it to the scene in 28 minutes, but there was nothing left of the Crest House than the concrete walls. The heat from the fire melted the glass windows, warped the steel beams and, of course, the wooden interior was a total loss.

The only remains after the fire were the four poured concrete walls and several interior concrete walls. The intense heat cracked some of the facade stones and separated them from the concrete walls. The property has been abandoned since 1979.