Located at 518 Main Street in Frisco, the Staley-Rouse House was built in 1908–9 for William and Alvarena Staley. The house is unique in Colorado for having a first floor made of vertical logs and a second floor of horizontal logs, which gives it a distinctive and easily recognizable look. In 2017 a local developer bought the house, which will be relocated on its current lot and placed under a permanent historic preservation covenant to make way for a new hotel.
Staley Family Residence
Frisco first took shape as a mining town during the silver rush of the late 1870s. After the Denver & Rio Grande and Denver, South Park & Pacific Railroads arrived in 1882, the town developed as an important transportation hub connecting the Front Range to more remote mining communities. Like most of Colorado’s silver-mining settlements, Frisco’s fortunes declined after the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893, but it revived by 1904, when the King Solomon Mining Syndicate started a tunnel project to reach gold buried deep in Ten Mile Canyon.
William and Alvarena Staley moved to Frisco from New Mexico in 1893 and stayed throughout the town’s slow period before the revival of mining in the early 1900s. William worked as a teamster hauling freight and operating a horse-drawn sleigh in the winter. From 1899 to 1904 he served as a town trustee, and he started to do some mining in the early 1900s. Within a few years, his growing family—he and Alvarena had four children by 1906—and the town’s renewed prosperity prompted him to build a new log house on Main Street. Unfortunately, William died in a wagon accident on October 16, 1908, while the house was still being built. Alvarena saw construction of the house through to completion and moved there with her children in January 1909.
The Staley family’s house was a one-and-a-half-story log building on the south side of Main Street. It had exterior walls made of vertical logs on the first story and horizontal logs on the second story. In addition, the house featured keyed half-notching of the joints of the horizontal logs on the second floor, suggesting possible Scandinavian influences in its design and construction. Both the juxtaposition of vertical and horizontal logs and the use of keyed half-notching were rare in Colorado. Inside, the T-shaped house had a linear plan, with a living room in the front of the first floor and a kitchen in the back. Bedrooms occupied the upper floor.
In June 1909, Alvarena married local teamster David Rouse, and the family lived in the log house on Main Street through the next decade. During those years, Frisco began to decline as mining profits waned. The Denver & Rio Grande ended service to the town in 1912, and the town’s Board of Trustees stopped holding meetings in the middle of the decade. In 1916 Alvarena Staley Rouse joined with other local women to reinstate local government; they got the town to hold an election and ended up being chosen as trustees.
Mining activity largely dried up around Frisco after World War I, and in the 1920s Alvarena moved to Arizona. In 1933 she quit-claimed the house to James Giberson for $15. Giberson was a Summit County native who worked in road construction. He and his wife lived with his parents, and it is unknown whether he ever lived full time in the house. In 1939 he sold it to Halbert and Rose Stocking for $500. The Stockings also never lived full time in the house—which had no electricity or running water at the time—but they used it for summer weekend stays.
In 1972 the Stockings sold the Staley-Rouse House to Denver attorney Larry E. Wright. At the time, Frisco’s economy was being revived by the rise of skiing and other outdoor recreation activities in Summit County, while the construction of Interstate 70 was allowing easier access from the Front Range. Wright and his wife, Janet, modernized the house by adding electricity and plumbing, and in the 1980s they hired French-Canadian stonemason Gaston Marquis Champagne to add a cobblestone fireplace, chimney, and front porch. The Staley-Rouse House served as the Wrights’ summer home until 1991.
Preservation and Relocation
After changing hands several times in the 1990s, the Staley-Rouse House was bought in 1998 by the Town of Frisco, which leased the building to private businesses and organizations. The house is one of the best-preserved historic structures in Frisco still standing in its original location, and it was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 2007.
In the mid-2010s, the town started exploring the possibility of selling the Staley-Rouse House, which occupied a prime lot on Main Street in downtown Frisco. After an outcry from locals in late 2016 over whether the house would be moved to make way for a hotel, the town agreed to sell the property to developer Kelly Foote in early 2017. Under the terms of the deal, the house will remain on its current lot but will be moved closer to the street to make way for a hotel and restaurant complex. At the same time, the house will be placed under a historic preservation covenant to ensure that it cannot be demolished or significantly altered in the future.