The Washington School House Hotel, located on upper Park Avenue in the heart of Old Town, received well-earned accolades this month from Park City's Historic Preservation Board. The landmark was honored for a recent renovation that took great pains to adhere to the city's stringent preservation standards.
The owner of the property, Park City Enterprises, LLC, is to be commended for its commitment to maintaining an irreplaceable part of Old Town's historic character. The Washington School House, one of the city's original public school buildings, survived the fire of 1898 that leveled most of the business district, and it has weathered countless economic swings and political shakeups.
The fact that a 123-year-old building has found a vital place in the city's bustling economy -- as a charming boutique hotel -- is also a testament to the city's steadfast support for historic preservation. And we hope that as the city's leaders look to the future, they will continue to make preservation a priority.
The coming year is bound to present many of the same economic challenges that property owners and city agencies have faced since the recession began in 2008. Unfortunately, some will argue that practicality trumps preservation, especially when budgets are tight. But over time, we would argue, Park City's authentic mining heritage is a priceless amenity, one that becomes even more valuable as fragile historic landmarks around the country fall by the wayside.
The Washington School House Hotel is one of a handful of vibrant historic landmarks in Park City. Last year the Preservation Board bestowed a similar honor on the High West Distillery on lower Park Avenue near the Town Lift. In each case, owners, planners and construction crews labored to remain faithful to the original architecture and spirit of these venerable landmarks and we are all richer because of their efforts.
As Park City strives to maintain its place among the world's top destination resorts by offering the latest tourism amenities, we hope that citizens will continue to urge their elected officials to preserve the historic district.