This weekend, the Park City Historical Society will offer residents and visitors a peek inside several historic buildings. Saturday's tour will highlight nine buildings perched on the hillsides above Main Street, where participants will be treated to a bird's-eye view of Main Street and a glimpse of Park City's colorful past.
The annual tour serves a variety of purposes. It is a fundraiser for the recently renovated museum on Main Street, a chance for nosey neighbors to peek inside each others' homes and an opportunity for like-minded renovation buffs to pick up some design and construction tips.
But most of all, it is a way to honor the caretakers of one of Park City's most irreplaceable assets its turn-of-the-century Western mining-town heritage.
First-time visitors to Park City's Historic District never fail to fall under its charming spell. That includes those from resort town competitors like Vail whose communities came as afterthoughts to their ski areas. Vail's delegation that toured Park City this spring were quick to point out how lucky marketers were to have such an attractive magnet.
But, as anyone who has restored a historic structure will attest, preservation is not a matter of luck. It requires deep commitment and hard work.
If Old Town property owners based their decisions solely on economics and time, it would always make more sense to bring in a wrecking ball and build from scratch. If not for those who saw the bigger picture and were willing to spend a little more and take a little more time, Park City would look like every other ski town in the country.
Call them the pioneers of preservation. When sleepy Park City went from ghost town to ski town in the 1950s and '60s and then in the 1980s and '90s, when growth and development threatened to extinguish the city's few remaining miners shacks, elegant old saloons and theaters, a handful of people spoke up. Thanks to their leadership the city adopted stringent ordinances to protect its historic vestiges. Now they are a point a pride for all citizens and a valuable marketing tool in a competitive tourism industry.
This Saturday, June 14, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., take an hour or so to take advantage of this unique opportunity to wallow in local history and to thank those who have helped to preserve it. Admission to the tour is $20 and comes with a delightful bonus a family membership to the Park City Museum.