Visiting our history
Walking through the door of the Gillaspie House, a visitor is greeted by a blast from the past. A woman sits knitting in a rocking chair, surrounded by the vestiges of another time. She looks right at home.
Nederland Area Historical Society volunteer Betty Porter greeted guests who hiked up the Bridge Street hill to the tiny house where a slice of Nederland’s history has been preserved. The Gillaspie House Museum opened on Sunday and will be open on Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer.
Porter introduced visitors to the unique world of turn-of-the-century Nederland, with the domestic artifacts of everyday life. For example a foot-operated dentist drill, a collection of bone saws, a metal tub used for once a week baths, the first electric refrigerator, an Edison phonograph and the essential and insisted upon washing machine. Porter said visitors couldn’t believe that people could live in such a small space, but the Gillaspie family not only lived but thrived in the small house on the hill.
In 1879, Carbon Gillaspie was born, the son of a miner, one of 24 settlers who founded the General Mining District and the town of Jamestown. After graduating from the University of Colorado Medical School in 1905, Carbon opened a general practice in Nederland and married Grace Fairchild in 1906. He built the house for his bride after paying $65 for the lot. The house was built as an L shape with the kitchen in the rear, a typical period mining cabin.
Dr. Gillaspie served as at the mayor of Nederland and the proprietor of the Tungsten Drugstore in 1908. A year later the family moved to Boulder but continued to use the Nederland cabin for summer holidays, and the doctor continued to make mountain calls.
In 1909, Gillaspie became the Chief of Staff of Boulder Community Hospital until he died in 1933. Boulder City offices and schools closed early to mourn the beloved doctor. His funeral was one of the largest in Boulder’s history.
In 1975, John and Caroline Gillaspie donated the family cabin and its furnishings to the Town of Nederland and the NAHS was formed to preserve and manage the house as a museum. The Gillaspie House is one of the few buildings built before World War I in the county that hasn’t been destroyed, removed or renovated.
Manikins in period costumes stand in the rooms as if they have been there for the past century, waiting for people to visit them. The Gillaspie Museum is a historical treat which has been under visited in the past and which will become more visible as docents at the Nederland Mining Museum will be directing visitors to the house as part of their history adventure.