Chris Wilbur, of Wilbur Engineering in Durango, is in the process of restoring the old building that sits at the end of Mesa Street, near Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters.
My wife and I purchased the property on which this old building sits in 2001 from the heirs of Lynn Crawford, Wilbur said. We cleaned up the site, lifted the building and replaced the deteriorated floor joists, then reinforced the structure, and recently moved it onto a concrete foundation. The move was skillfully done by Stan of 4 Corners Crane Service of Mancos. Last year, we obtained permits to remove two old car bodies from the river and replace them with large rocks.
Our goal is to restore and preserve the building within the next several years. We have not determined its future use. It is zoned commercial, but we might use it as a small residence.
According to Fern Ellis Come Back to My Valley, this building was the original office of the Mancos Times. It stood where the current Times office is now. at 121 Grand Ave. It was built in the 1890s. The first issue of the Times was April 17, 1893, but I cannot verify that the paper was published from this building. There is a photo of the inside of the building of Ferns book. Based on the ages of the people in the photo, it must have been taken just before the new concrete building was built in 1911.
The building survived at least two fires on that block, including the January 1898 and June 1902 fires. It is somewhat unique in Mancos as a 19th century wood frame structure that survived in a commercial district prior to development of a central piped water system with fire hydrants.
The Sanborn insurance map of 1910 clearly shows the building, with its porch roof at 121 Grand Ave. The Sanborn map of 1919 shows our building at the rear of the lot with an address of 121 1/2 Grand Ave.
According to Fern Ellis, our building was moved to its current property on Mesa St. in the late 1930s.
The late Herman Wagner told me that he remembered the building was once Windy Williams saw sharpening shop and also was a second-hand store. A few items with Williams name were found in the building after we bought it.
The most recent occupant (late 1970s) was the residence of the late Lewis Menefee, descendent of the Mancos pioneer family.
After we bought this building, several Mancos residents told us it was the old post office. The late Kenny Bauer, great grandson of George Bauer, told me that the building was moved into town from a railroad siding east of town on the Menefee property. Ellis book says the post office was once at the Menefees prior to 1895. The dates support the possibility that our building was the post office, since the RGS arrived in 1891 and the Times started in 1893. The architecture is also consistent with RGS buildings of that time. If this is true, our little red building has been at three properties, and has been moved four times (twice only about 20 feet), including the 2011 move.
Any feedback is welcome.