Alice Historical Society revives memory with museum

Once more, the small community of Alice has a beating heart, 32 years after St. Mary’s Glacier Ski Resort was shut down along with it all of the shops, thanks to Jaquie Zegan.

Alice Historical Society

President of the Alice Historical Society Jacquie Zegan, left, and her boyfriend Brian Bannen relax in front of the Alice school house on April 15. Zegan, along with other locals turned the one-room school house into a museum. The building fell into disrepair when students stopped attending school in Alice in 1940. Photo by Lauren Cordova • scordo22@msudenver.edu

Children first walked through the doors of Alice Schoolhouse in 1896 when residents of the small mining community were looking to make their living situation feel permanent. Later on, they would add a market and a fine eatery up the hill.

In 1906, when the population grew, they built a larger schoolhouse just across the street and the old school house became a rustic cabin which still exists today. Alice thrived for nearly a half-century until mining all but shut down in the area.

The Clear Creek County School District would eventually send the remaining children of the area to a bigger school elsewhere.

“The bus comes halfway up Fall River Road, there’s a paper box down there and most people drive their kids to school,” Zegan says.

As of April 10, 1940, when the census last visited Alice School House, there were no children to be reported.

The building sat vacant, being used here and there, until the 1980s when local women decided to create the first Alice Historical Society. They improved the building by adding a bathroom and a kitchen.

Although the school house is in tip-top shape, it spent much of the 1990s boarded up and out of service. When the ski lodge was closed with no reopen date in sight, people started to leave town.

Zegan moved to the Alice neighborhood in 1998 and it took her a decade of driving past the school house everyday on her commute to Denver to finally give in and look into putting the Alice Historical Society back together.

“It was closed up and dark. Nobody ever took care of it. So then after living here for about ten years, I said, ‘I’m going to do something.’ So I got some ladies together and we started rooting together in the basement. We were pulling stuff out. We had masks on. It was a disaster,” Zegan said.

With help from her neighbors, a tech savvy Girl Scout and other historical societies in the area, Zegan was able to restore the schoolhouse to its former glory. It’s now a community center and museum of Alice’s past.

Inside the museum, located in the basement of the school house are artifacts of Alice’s past. Visitors can see a large variety of items that include photos of former Alice residents, curriculum books and items found buried in the area, like a woman’s shoe.

Author: Carolyn Jarvis

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