Researching the Past

During the winter of 2004-2005, graduate students from the University of Colorado at Denver's College of Architecture and Planning assisted the park with important research. They studied buildings in the park to see if they qualify for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of properties deemed worthy of preservation. To qualify for the National Register of Historic Places, a building must represent an important aspect of American history.

The researchers learned the National Register criteria and process, then went into the field to study the buildings themselves. They documented the buildings by drawing site maps, recording UTMs, assessing historic integrity, and taking 35mm and digital photographs. They also researched in land records, archives, and newspapers to learn about past occupants. After completing their research, they presented their findings to park staff, who forwarded their recommendations to the Colorado's Historic Preservation Office for approval.

This project presented its own challenges, since most of the buildings were vernacular residences or garages constructed by private individuals about 50 years ago. The information in the archives about the properties was scarce. The students had to learn to "read" a building, to reveal its changes over time such as additions, new porches, or new windows. Working closely with their advisors, including their professors and park staff, the researchers recommended half of the 40 structures eligible for listing on the National Register.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


(970) 586-1206
Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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