White Horse Inn faces demolition this summer

By the end of this summer, there should be nothing but a gaping hole where the White Horse Inn stands on Yampa Avenue.

The building was condemned in October of 2000, and is scheduled for demolition this summer, according to City Building Inspector Dave Costa.

"Due to hardships and existing conditions, I've been flexible on my time frames," Costa said.

The building was condemned because it was structurally unsound.

"It was condemned because it's falling in on itself," Costa said. "It is unfit for human occupancy."

Demolishing the building takes extra time, money and consideration because of the asbestos found in the ceiling and other parts of the building.

Building owner Dick Butler has had an asbestos abatement report completed and had lined up people out of Denver to do the asbestos abatement, but they won't enter the building until it's safe. He has hired Studor Engineering out of Steamboat Springs to design an exterior substructure to stabilize the walls.

"That structure will allow us to safely enter to do the asbestos abatement," Costa said. "Once that's complete, they'll demolish the building."

Costa expects to see a design for the substructure within 30 days.

"It's a real tough process," he said.

The White Horse Inn has been a part of Craig for more than 100 years. It was built in the 1890s and has served as a livery, garage, mercantile, doctor's office and hotel.

The building was the White House Grocery and Market until it 1930 when it was closed because "too liberal of credit was given," according to documents at the Museum at Northwest Colorado.

It was opened as a bar and hotel in 1934 right after prohibition ended. In 1976, a fire destroyed the interior of the hotel.

At the time of its closure, it was a bar.

"It's not as bad on the inside as it looks from the outside," Craig Mayor Dave DeRose said.

The asbestos abatement is a slow process. Each item found to be containing asbestos has to be loaded by people in special suits. Items that are "nonfryable" that don't break up and release fibers into the air when they're crushed can be taken to the Moffat County Landfill. Anything else must be bagged, sealed into a vehicle and taken to a special hazardous materials dumpsite on the Front Range. Despite the lengthy process, Costa said he feels the ball is rolling and things will get done.

"You don't hire a structural engineer to do a design unless you plan to get something done," he said.

The Butlers will bear the entire cost of demolition and asbestos abatement.

According to Costa, the Butlers' plan to develop the site after the White Horse is demolished. Plans discussed include constructing an office building or putting in a restaurant with offices above it.

Butler could not be reached for comment.

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