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Durango’s historic Gable House marks 130 years with ice cream social

New owners commemorate iconic bed-and-breakfast while former tenants reflect on memories
Neighbors of the Gable House, some dressed in Victorian attire, gather to enjoy ice cream in the front yard of the 130-year-old house. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald)

About 30 people reconnected or met for the first time Sunday to share stories and ice cream on the front lawn of the historic Gable House in Durango.

The former hospital turned bed-and-breakfast turned 130 this year.

Many attendees, some dressed in traditional Victorian attire, had previously lived in the Gable House before it became a bed-and-breakfast in 1991.

The Gable House, located at 805 East Fifth Ave., was built in 1892 by James and Eliza Schutt, who owned multiple businesses in Durango and Cortez nearing the turn of the 19th century. Since then, the building has been used multiple times as a mercantile shop and was even La Plata County’s first public hospital.

More recently, the house was owned by Heather Bryson, who bought the house in 1970 while she was attending Fort Lewis College. Bryson was integral in making the historic Victorian-style bed-and-breakfast into what it is today.

“The fact that she has been such a presence in Durango and has played such a role in the history of Durango is incredible,” Bryson said. “We have been able to maintain the history of it, and it wasn’t cut up into 16 apartments like places in Denver.”

In May, the house was sold to Charlie Goodman who vowed to maintain what Bryson had built. Goodman and his partner, Tracie Trotter, thought the ice cream social would be a proper way to celebrate the house’s birthday because it was Victorian tradition.

At the event, there was a booth set up so attendees could donate to the La Plata County Historical Society.

“An ice cream social would be typical of the period,” Goodman said. “And so we thought, what can we do? And we thought this is a great way to do it.”

Rubie Trotter serves an ice cream cone Sunday during a celebration to mark 130 years of the Gable House. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald)

During her time at FLC, Bryson rented out rooms of the Gable House to other students. Many of those who lived in the Gable House attended Sunday’s event. One in particular was Lesley Gannon Meiering.

She reminisced about how all of the tenants shared one bathroom. She recalled hectic mornings before heading to work, in which many argued about who had dibs on the curling iron. She also loved her room, which was a maternity ward when the house was a hospital.

“It is totally Durango,” she said. “... A friend of mine, his mother was born in this house, and so many people that I know were born here or came here to see the doctor.”

Bryson said celebrating the event brought back memories of raising her family and living with the tenants. She rented out the 10 rooms to students for 17 years.

For Goodman and Trotter, owning the historic house has allowed them to embrace the Durango community in ways they never thought. Goodman said his favorite part of the home has been the diversity of people he’s been able to meet.

“You would assume it’s a very narrow demographic, and it is for the most part, but we get a lot of younger people who come to stay with their families, and then we get a much older demographic like myself,” he said.

Friends, families and former tenants meet Sunday on the Gable House front lawn to celebrate the 130-year-old historic house. (Tyler Brown/Durango Herald)

Trotter has enjoyed sharing the history of the house with visitors and the community. As a former nurse, she was amazed at how many people came by to tell her they had been born in the Gable House.

“We had one lady sign our guest book and she said, ‘I took my first breath here,’” Trotter said.

Bryson commended Trotter for working with local businesses for the celebration and in her stewardship of the Gable House. Trotter teamed up with Cream Bean Berry to provide ice cream for the social.

“She’s got a lot of energy and a lot of ideas,” Bryson said. “And she has great taste, and she came with a lot of beautiful peace.”

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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