White Horse becomes white elephant

Asbestos removal process proves costly for city, property owner

Christina M. Currie

The “nice guy” approach doesn’t seem to be working for the city in getting the old White Horse Inn demolished, but few options are left to either the city or the owners of the building.

It all comes down to money.

Portions of the structure contain asbestos and the building had to be made structurally safe before those portions could be removed.

During the time it took to make the building structurally sound, a portion of the roof caved in allowing asbestos into the air, so now the entire building has to be treated as hazardous waste, removed as such and hauled to a landfill that will accept it.

“That raised the price substantially,” city Building Inspector Dave Costa said.

It’s left to the building’s owner, Aleka Butler, to take the next step because Costa said he doesn’t have the funds to do it.

If the city condemns the building and takes over the demolition of it, there is no way it could recover the demolition costs in a land sale, Costa said.

“The city would have to handle the asbestos abatement and the funds just aren’t available,” he said.

Several years ago the city condemned the old Cosgriff Hotel, which also contained asbestos, and paid about $115,000 for its demolition. It still has not sold the property to recover those costs.

“I don’t want to spend city dollars to that amount,” Costa said. “I keep hoping (the Butlers) will take care of it.”

Butler said she’s hasn’t decided what to do with the building.

“I may remodel it or I may tear it down,” she said. “The economy in Craig isn’t the best now. It is a very expensive project.

“Because it does have significance as to it’s historical value, I have questions in my mind whether it should get torn down or be remodeled.”

That means the public should be resigned to seeing the structural supports stretching onto the sidewalk on Yampa Avenue for awhile longer.

“Craig is an old city with old buildings and all of them have asbestos and all of them have bricks falling down,” Butler said. “I’m at a loss on what to do with it.”

An asbestos abatement report was completed and a crew from Denver was hired to do the abatement, but they wouldn’t enter the building until it was safe. Studor Engineering out of Steamboat Springs was hired to design an exterior substructure to stabilize the walls.

“That structure (allowed) us to safely enter to do the asbestos abatement,” Costa said.

Asbestos abatement is a slow process. Each item has to be loaded by people in special suits. All parts must be bagged and sealed into a vehicle.

The building was supposed to be demolished during the summer of 2002. It was condemned in October of 2000, but Costa said he would be flexible in his time frames because of the difficulties and costs associated with the demolition.

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 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, which was on the second floor of the building.

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

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at

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