Pine Hall is the only historic false-front wood building remaining in Granite, a small town along the Arkansas River about halfway between Buena Vista and Leadville. Built in 1896 as a community center, the building later housed a variety of commercial operations before being converted for residential use. In 2016 Pine Hall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Granite’s Community Center
Located at an elevation of about 9,000 feet in northern Chaffee County, Granite was settled after the discovery of gold along nearby Cache Creek in 1859. Like most nineteenth-century mining towns, it experienced a series of booms and busts. Its most prosperous period came in the late 1870s and 1880s, when it lay along the main routes to Leadville and Aspen. By 1885 the town had a post office, railroad depot, smelter, hotel, and several stores serving a population that supposedly reached 600. The town declined after a railroad was completed to Aspen in 1887, decreasing Granite’s importance as a transfer point, and a fire in 1893 reduced it even further.
In 1896 new mining activity in the area revived Granite’s fortunes, sparking an increase in population and construction. That year, carpenter J. B. Outcalt sold a lot on the town’s main street to Elizabeth Pine, who lived with her husband, August, in a frame house just north of the property. August was from France and Elizabeth was from a French Canadian family in Ontario, and since 1873 they had lived in Granite, where August had some success as a miner. The Pines used their new property to build a gift for the town: a wood-frame community center measuring about thirty by twenty feet. It had a front-gabled roof and a false front facing east on what was once the main road to Leadville but is now County Road 397, across the Arkansas River from today’s US 24. The building was divided into one large front room and two smaller back rooms. It hosted all kinds of local events, including christenings, marriages, funerals, political meetings, and religious services.
Pine Hall served as a community center for only a few years before Granite Union Church was completed in 1901 and took over that role. After Elizabeth died in 1903 and August moved to Leadville with their two surviving children, the building changed hands and functions several times. It may have operated as a saloon for a while and as a candy store and ice cream parlor. Meanwhile, Granite declined after an English mining syndicate stopped working in the area. Pine Hall survived major fires in 1897 and 1939, leaving it as the only historic false-front building in town.
By 1930 Pine Hall was serving as a residence occupied by miner James Moore and his wife, Lavina. The Moores lived there until the 1950s, when they moved to the Front Range. In the 1960s, James Moore sold Pine Hall to James and Georgia Louisa Rowe, who also acquired the Commercial Hotel just north of Pine Hall.
At some point during these years, the building’s interior was remodeled to facilitate residential use, with horizontal board walls (now covered with drywall) separating the space into a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Outside, the original wood-shingle roof was replaced with a metal roof and a small wood stoop and larger wood deck were added to the front and rear of the building, respectively. The building retains its original windows and wood siding.
In 1992 the Rowes sold Pine Hall to Michael Ediger of Lawrence, Kansas. Ediger’s father worked in Chaffee County in the 1940s and 1950s, and during Ediger’s childhood the family often vacationed nearby at Love Ranch. Ediger bought Pine Hall so that his father and family could continue to enjoy vacations in the area.