Montrose, CO — City Councilors voted unanimously Tuesday to place the historic Denver and Rio Grande Depot on the city’s register of historic places.
Construction on the train depot, located at 21 North Rio Grande Avenue in the city’s railroad district, began in 1911 and was completed in 1912, replacing the first depot, which was much smaller.
City Planner William Reis told councilors the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad first reached Montrose in 1882, and by 1885 it was described as the "most important station west of Gunnison City.”
The building is significant for its association with the history of transportation in Montrose, having been erected as the community’s second railroad depot, according to Reis.
Reis said the city owns the building and is, therefore, the applicant for the designation. On June 22, 2021, the City of Montrose Historic Preservation Commission considered an application for historic property designation of the Denver and Rio Grande Depot according to Section 4-15 of the Montrose Municipal Code.
The commission voted unanimously to recommend the structure for approval as a historic property.
Reis told councilors the depot's architecture is representative of the Mission Revival style, popular for railroad stations in the southwest, as reflected in the tile roof, overhanging eaves, shaped parapets, and arched porches.
The depot transported both passengers and freight, serving San Juan mountain communities to the south on the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. Lines running east to Gunnison and Crested Butte were eventually added.
"As the first building many of Montrose's early visitors would have passed through upon arrival to Montrose, we feel that the Denver and Rio Grande Depot is a worthy addition to our local historical register," Reis said. "I hope that this designation will inspire visitors and locals alike to visit the Montrose County Historical Museum in order to learn about this important piece of Montrose History, and to learn of the cultural legacy of Montrose County."
The property is listed in the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties, the National Register of Historic Places, and has been designated as a Montrose County Historical Landmark. The depot has housed the Montrose County Historical Museum since the 1970s.
The depot is now the eighth historic structure added to the city’s registry since its inception in 2019.
City of Montrose Register of Historic Places:
• City Hall: 433 South First Street, added on September 17, 2019
• Potato Growers Association building: 39 West Main Street, added on October 1, 2019
• The Missouri Building: 347 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
• The Block Building: 345 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
• The former BPOE Lodge Building: 107 South Cascade Avenue, added on November 17, 2020
• Montrose Fire Department No. 1 Station: 24 South Uncompahgre Avenue, added on June 1, 2021
• Historic Montrose County Jail: 271 South First Street, added on July 6, 2021
• Denver and Rio Grande Depot: 21 North Rio Grande Avenue, added July 20, 2021