The key ingredients for any successful building are point of view, poetry, theme, composition and lighting. This is doubly true in the case of historic properties that are worthy of conservation by their very nature. Everything about one such property, forever to be known as the Harold Ross house, is discreet—fitting in rather than standing out—in the spirit of old Aspen.
The seemingly irreconcilable objectives of preservation and living have been amply fulfilled in the responsibly restored 1890s miner’s cabin in Aspen’s West End, once home to the larger-than-life Harold W. Ross, who was born in Aspen in 1892. With no more than a 10th-grade education, Ross’ irrepressible spirit and bristling intellect led him to become the founding editor of the urbane and witty The New Yorker magazine and one of the original members of the Algonquin Round Table, a group that came to epitomize the pinnacle of New York sophistication.
The history of the Harold Ross house mirrors the history of Aspen. Once a modest homestead and miner’s cabin, it sits across the street from Jerome Wheeler’s considerably more elegant and flamboyant home. It witnessed Aspen’s silver boom, then bust—when silver prices crashed in 1893—and the ensuing quiet years. In the ’40s and ’50s, the single-chair Lift 1 opened for business; the first commercial flight took off at Sardy Field; and the Aspen Institute was founded. By the 1970s, Aspen was a popular getaway for celebrities, and Harold Ross’ house became a historic landmark.
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