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Hood Mortuary fetes 110 years

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald Visitors take a tour of Hood Mortuary, which hosted an ice cream social and open house Saturday afternoon to celebrate its 110th anniversary.

By Robert Galin
Herald Staff Writer

Hood Mortuary on Saturday celebrated 110 years of service to La Plata County with an ice cream social, live music and tours of the historic Amy Mansion.

Hood owner Ryan Phelps said he wanted to open the mansion to the public because during the 100th anniversary, the mortuary was not open to the public. In fact, Phelps was one of the several tour guides Saturday dressed in Victorian clothing.

For the first group he led through the mansion, built in 1888, he pointed out many of the nuances of both historical interest and human interest.

“There are no hidden passages” in the home, he said, anticipating questions from the group of visitors. He did say, however, that there seemed to be a lot of space between the backs of cabinets and the real wall, so it is possible.

Phelps said he bought Hood in 2005 but has worked there for 17 years, starting at age 18. Now, Phelps lives in the mansion with his wife and children.

When Hood Mortuary first opened in 1902, it was on East Ninth Street next to what now is The Red Snapper. It moved to the Amy Mansion on East Third Avenue in 1932.

When Ernest Amy came to Durango to manage the San Juan & New York Smelter, he purchased the property at Third Avenue and 13th Street. He built the mansion in the “shingle style” of the East Coast for his wife, Isabelle, who was from New York.

The smelters transformed the gold and silver ore from the nearby mines in the San Juans. Historian Duane Smith said in “Smoke and Noise” on the Animas Museum website that Durango became a regional smelting center.

The house, completed for about $50,000 in 1888 (about $1.2 million in 2012 dollars), originally had 17 working fireplaces. Most have been closed off, and Phelps said only one or two are usable, though even the fireplace in the third floor living space no longer is used for wood fires.

Saturday’s events included free ice cream and music presented by the local group Sugar Creek. The group of four musicians played bluegrass-tinged American folk, alternative country and pop music.

rgalin@durangoherald.com

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