A Walk Down Memory Lane with Dirk DePagter
Forty years ago, America had just left Vietnam. Women’s lib and youth culture had become mainstream. Dads from the world of Father Knows Best were now sporting sideburns and mom was also wearing the pants in the family. At the start of that decade, Telluride was beginning to pulse thanks to a guy from Beverly Hills named Joe Zoline.
When Joe arrived on the scene, Telluride looked like a ghost town. Main Street was still boarded up and homes could be bought for a song – or back taxes. Instead of boatloads of tourists heading into town, lots of folks were leaving, muttering darkly about the close of the Idarado mines, their piggybank. Historic buildings such as the Sheridan Opera, now restored to its Victorian splendor, were camping grounds for derelicts, with broken glass and upturned mattresses everywhere. Still, the boards at the Opera House creaked under the weight of musicians performing there for the first time. The nascent Telluride Chamber Music Festival shared a stage with the likes of Gloria Swanson, in town in 1974 as a tributee of the first ever Telluride Film Festival. Hope for a brighter future was blowing in the wind when Dirk DePagter rolled into town.
For a walk down memory lane and a look at Telluride in the 1970s and before, click the “play” button and listen to the interview with Dirk.
Dirk, an entrepreneur and developer, arrived in Telluride in the wild and wooly 1970s (specifically 1975). A master carpenter/contractor back when, he was hired to do the remodel that transformed a shed owned by the Idarado Mining Company into the building that is now the Telluride Medical Center. What remains of his handiwork is the eastern part of the structure. Today, Dirk is part owner of Hotel Columbia, always one of the best locations in Telluride. The hotel is walking distance to the heart of town and now adjacent to the Gondola. According to Dirk, also a local historian, the site was originally where the Rio Grand Southern Railroad’s water tower was located.