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Ouray Historical Markers

      The Historic Marker Project was conceived by the Ouray Chamber Resort Association and its Board of Directors. The Ouray County Historical Society and the City of Ouray soon gave their enthusiastic support to the idea. Thus, the project was launched. Members from each supporting organization and several interested persons from the community formed a committee to oversee the project. Seventy five percent of the funds raised came in the form of a grant from the Colorado Historical Society/State Historical Fund. The City of Ouray's Beautification Committee, the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, Roger & Angie Henn (residents of Ouray), and various individuals as well as businesses on Main Street contributed money to meet the 25 percent matching funds obligation required by the State Historical Fund. Steven Baker, President of Centuries Research in Montrose, CO, provided much in kind support. He is the archaeologist who investigated the Vanoli Block which is block eight of this historic endeavor.

     Markers, all eight of them, were placed on Main Street in the city's principal business district between 2003 and 2006 for the pleasure and enrichment of visitors and residents alike. The author has written this material primarily as an accompaniment to the eight historic markers. It is hoped that these markers, stories, and photographs will pique peoples interest in and enjoyment of history, especially that of the City of Ouray.

Title AnnCover edited.jpg

Recreating Ouray's Principal Business District
Illustrations, Stories, and Historical Photography

Ann C. Hoffman
The Committee

Walt Rule
Karen Rasmussen
Dee Williams
Steve Turk
Robert Stoufer
Judy Robbins
Bob McCulloch
Wensy Bazin

Copyright pending

Illustrations and Main Street Markers:
Interpretive Graphics, Salt Lake City, Utah 84121

Cover Painting: Wright Opera Houe by Ann Detmer

Cover and Book Design: Pat Wilson

Production by Country Graphics, Ridgway, Colorado


It would not have been possible to produce this historic work and various stories without the cooperation from the following:

Dr. Doris Gregory
Ouray County Historical Society
Colorado Historical Society/State Historical Fund
Denver Public Library, Western History Department
Centuries Research, Inc., Steven Baker
Roger and Angie Henn
Authors of books and manuscripts, and newspaper articles listed in the bibliography
Ouray Chamber Resort Association
City of Ouray
Ouray Beautification Committee
Citizens State Bank
Duckett's Market
Lesnefsky Real Estate
Interpretive Graphics Signs & Systems, Salt Lake City, Utah
Many other Ouray residents and business people, too numerous to name within the scope of this work.

I am also indebted to the "committee"; Wendy Bazin, Bob McCulloch, Karen Rasmussen, Judy Robbins, Robert Stoufer, Steve Turk, Dee Williams, and especially Walt Rule.  I thank Walt Rule and David Jones for final readings of the manuscript, studying the marker designs, and for suggestions.

Employees at the Ouray County Historical Society's Museum, Virginia Harrington and Maria Jones, and museum volunteers Sue Babcock, Doris Gregory, Don Paulson, and Walt Rule who devoted time and energy in assisting me to locate and duplicate some historic photographs that enhance enjoyment of this book. I am grateful for their assistance.


The Main Street Historic Marker Project book, Ouray's Historic Main Street: Early Visions, Wild Times can be purchased for $15.99 at the Ouray County Museum, 650 Sixth Street in Ouray or it can be mail ordered from the Ouray County Historical Society by going to the Book Order Form

             About the Book

Nineteenth century explorers, adventurers, fortune seekers, and in some instances their families were responsible for the settlement of Ouray, known in 1875 as the little mining camp called Uncompahgre. A remarkable nucleus of visionary men came to the new settlement. Some were highly educated. Others were gifted in a variety of ways. Together they transformed the mining camp into an incorporated and patented small mountain city by 1876. They renamed the city, Ouray, after the prominent Ute Indian leader who visited the city frequently.

This book presents the eight blocks historical tour through part of Ouray's business district.   It begins with visual images and stories of block 18, one of the earliest locations for business in the town. Block 18 (the Jeffers Block), on the east side of Third Street (now called Main Street) between Sixth and Seventh Avenues can best be enjoyed from the opposite side of the street. Let's start this book tour at the marker site on the west side of the street, in the middle of the block, near the Citizens State Bank. That marker illustrates how block 18 looked between 1886 and 1908. Block 18 had its share of gifted businessmen. You'll enjoy reading about them.

As you move from chapter to chapter in the text, you will journey southward on the west side of Main Street looking east at block 19 (the Beaumont Block). Next you will see block 20 (the Elks Club Block), before crossing the street and turning north along the east side of Main Street. Traveling north you will be looking across the street to the west and can enjoy the progression of time on blocks 12 (the Wright Block), 11 (the Townsend Block), 10 (the Citizens State Bank Block), and 9 (The Story Block).

At the close of your walking tour, you will be standing on the sidewalk in the middle of block 16 looking to the west at block 8 (the Vanoli Block). Historically, block 8 was one which "respectable" people did not visit, at least not when they could be seen! This block was an important part of Ouray's "red light" district, a district that made a good deal of revenue for the city. Today, the block looks very different than it did at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1972 and 1981, major excavations took place here from Main Street to the alley. All buildings on this block were torn down except for the livery stable and the corner buggy shed also known as the Hearse Building.

The committee members, recognized on the title page of this book, and the author all anticipate additional historic works of a similar nature will be created, by public demand, to tell the rest of the story through visual markers, story telling, and photography. There is much more to tell about this gem of a city. We trust that you will support future research and development through purchases of these books. Please feel free to send comments to the author:

Ann C. Hoffman
5468 Gulfstar Ct., Windsor, CO 80528-9377


Ann Hoffman, a registered nurse, educator, and museum curator grew up in a history‑loving family. Her father was a graduate of the University of Colorado, at Boulder, and a history major. Ann's family lived at Ignacio, in the Centennial State, during her formative years. Her father, an avid outdoorsman, introduced his family to the historical and physical attributes of the Western Slope of Colorado, from Durango to Grand Junction. Ann particularly loved the Ouray area. At retirement, Ann and her husband Neil settled into their mountain home near Ouray, learning all they could about the local history and surrounding mountainous terrain.

Several years later, friend "Pat" Donovan, then President of the Ouray County Historical Society, asked Ann to direct the society and museum. She agreed to do so, remaining in that capacity for nearly seven years. During that time she learned much more about the history of Ouray, especially from historian, Doris Gregory, and archivist, Marietta Malzer, who were then serving the historical society on a volunteer basis. It was during Ann's tenure at the museum that she became interested in writing this booklet. She hopes you will have fun reading it.


This project was paid for in part by a State Historical Fund grant from the Colorado Historical Society. The contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Colorado Historical Society.

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