MuseumBuena Vista Heritage Museum
About the museum
The Old Chaffee County Courthouse, completed in 1882, now houses the Buena Vista Heritage Museum.
Granite, Colorado, was the original site of the first courthouse when Chaffee County was split from Lake County in 1879.
Buena Vistans voted to make their town the county seat, but Granite refused to give up the records. So a group of men lead by Ernest Wilbur "borrowed" a locomotive and flat car and went up to Granite late on the night of November 12, 1880. The men built a siding to the Granite Courthouse and kicked in the door.
Sheriff John Mear and his wife investigated the noise and were forced at gunpoint to watch the removal of all the county records by the Buena Vista men. Furniture was unbolted from the floor, including the railing. Even the heat stove, with embers remaining in it from the day's use, was loaded onto the flatcar.
There was no courthouse in Buena Vista at the time, so the records were stored in several business safes and in a stable until the new courthouse and jail complex were built.
The cornerstone was laid on June 8, 1882 with full Masonic honors by Mayor Judson E. Cole. Governor Pitkin and Denver Mayor Morris attended the ceremony.
The Chaffee County Courthouse was used as a courthouse from 1882 to 1932. From 1936 through 1972 it was used as a school. In 1974, encouraged by tremendous public support, the School District sold the building to the Town of Buena Vista for $1.00. The building became the home of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum, the Chaffee County Council of the Arts gallery (now Arkansas Valley Art Center) and the Buena Vista Model Railroad Society display. In 2003, the Buena Vista population voted to sell the Courthouse to Buena Vista Heritage, also for $1.00. The Arkansas Valley Arts Center moved into the new Colorado Mountain College campus in the fall of 2005. The old county jail located to the rear of the courthouse is now used as the Buena Vista school administration building.
Plan your visit
- Avery Parsons Elementary School, 516, East Main Street, Buena Vista, Chaffee County, Colorado, 81211, USA
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