Downtown building undergoing makeover

-A A +A

Owner seeks new purpose for long-vacant former home of Evergreen Crafters on Main Street

By Vicky Gits, For the Courier

The old Evergreen Crafters building, which has been under attack from raccoons and the elements for years, is being partly torn down to create a small gift shop.

Demolition of the 116-year-old cottage on the corner of Douglas Park Road and Main Street began the week of Feb. 8

Owned by the Ross-Lewis Trust, the one-story cottage has been vacant since 2008. As of Friday, Feb. 19, about one-third of the building was rubble.

Evergreen Crafters occupied the space for many years, until hungry raccoons drove it to a larger space across the street in 2008. For a few years in the early 1960s, part of the building was The Hut, a classic hamburger and hot dog stand, said John Ellis, with Evergreen National Bank.

Jeff Bradley, a family member who manages the property for the trust, said he wants to restore the building to how it looked in the 1930s, when it was a rustic tea room.

Bradley is not sure exactly what that would look like, but he is researching the period and coming up with ideas.

“It would not be modern or junky, but it would feel like grandma’s tea room,” Bradley said. It will have a small, landscaped area.

Despite the “tea-room feel,” he does not envision an establishment selling food or beverages. He described something more like an old-fashioned souvenir and gift shop operated by a person from the downtown business community. He was not ready to name the person, since no formal agreement has been reached. 

He said the building would retain the same zero setback in front but would be about two-thirds smaller than the current structure.

Despite its age, the building is not listed as a landmark by the Jefferson County Historical Commission.

According to the Jeffco Building Safety Division, the demolition process was supposed to be limited to tearing down two walls. After most of the roof came off, questions arose.

An inspection ensued, and the county issued a stop-work order Feb. 12, said Ed Peck, manager of operations and building safety. “The demolition permit did not include taking off the roof,” Peck said.

“It’s typical of a lot of remodels. You go in and find things are a lot worse,” Peck said.

Peck said Bradley will have to file paperwork revising the permit to include a new roof before work can continue.

The building permit shows Bradley Engineering and Construction Co. as the contractor on the project, and the address as 28115 Highway 74.

The 3,000-square-foot structure was built in 1900 and added onto in 1910, according to the county assessor’s records.

Originally a tea room, the space became a gift shop called Evergreen Crafters in 1948, under the ownership of a woman who sold it to Ross and Nancy Grimes in 1954, said Susan Fariss, owner of Evergreen Crafters.

Fariss started working for Ross Grimes at Evergreen Crafters in 1980 and was employed there continuously until 2003, when she bought the business.

Fariss always loved the cute, old building with its log walls and lodgy look, and was reluctant to leave it. But it turned out to be infested by raccoons, which were living under the floor.

The creatures lived quietly out of sight for a few years, until one day they appeared in the shelves. They were eating through the floorboards.

“One day we came in, and it smelled so bad. We found out one had died in the storeroom,” Fariss said.

Eventually the raccoons discovered the gourmet food. “Then there was no holding them back,” Fariss said.

A contractor told her that she and her staff needed to find a new home. She made it through Christmas, then, with the help of customers, moved to the new location.

Fariss has mixed feeling about the demolition.

“It’s sad to see it come down, but it’s nice to see something being done. It’s had its time,” she said.