(Lynn Shine was a member of the Durango City Council and serves as liasion to the Historic Preservation Board)
One of the most notable and attractive of the historic homes in Durango is now known as the Gable House, and is located at 805 Fifth Avenue. Delving into history is always fun--especially when it enables us to know the people and "places" of Durango's past. Exploring the history and architecture of this home was particularly interesting.
The Gable House is a three-story Queen Anne Victorian brick building with a wooden wrap-around porch of ornate banisters and relief work. The house also features two balconies on the second floor. Four gables join the steep main roof along with an imposing turret on the third floor. The gable ends are fish-scaled shingles with ornate fascia.
The Gable House was built in 1892 by James and Eliza Schutt. Mr. Schutt owned a flour mill and mercantile store in Durango, and was also active in buying and selling real estate in Durango and Cortez. Possibly due to the Silver Crash of 1893 and his real estate dealings, Mr. Schutt, in a subsequent year, placed ownership of the house in Eliza's name only. This may have occured because early Colorado laws would not allow a home belonging to a woman to be taken from her. Eliza Schutt owned the home until 1898, when it was sold to J.L. Rachofsky.
The new owner, Rachofsky, operated a mercantile shop called The Famous. He apparently did quite well with his shop, selling such goods as shoes, material, flour and other items commonly needed in Durango. In 1913, however, The Famous caught fire, and the house was sold to its most illustrious owner, Dr. B.J. Ochsner.
Dr. Ochsner was renowned as one of the best medical men in the Four Corners, and also held international acclaim as a photographer and pistol shot. After moving to Durango from Telluride, Dr. Ochsner practiced at Mercy Hospital. Because of some dissatisfaction there, he purchased the large home and converted it to a private hospital, and from 1913 through 1937, it was known as Ochsner Hospital.
In 1937, the house was sold to Drs. Leo Lloyd and Christopher Martin, who contined its use as a hospital. In 1942, they sold the home to the County and it became the County's first public hospital. In 1962, the County sold the home to JAME Corporation and in 1966 it was sold to one of the stockholders, Marvin Dale.
In 1970, Dale sold the home to its owners, Jeffrey and Heather Bryson. Heather now operates it as the Gable House Bed and Breakfast. Indeed, the Gable House has flourished under the care and ownership of Ms. Bryson. She has paid careful attention to the home's architectural features and historic importance. As a result of her hard work and attention, the home was featured in Victorian Homes Sourcebook, May 1995. Additionally, the home is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
If you would like more information about the Gable House please click here.