I,ve walked past it a thousand times, but had not been inside until interviewing its occupant, architect George Greenbank.
joins me at the weathered drafting table in the front room, my eyes embark on a rollercoaster amid my surroundings.Every inch of wall space is covered with photos, architectural drawings and newspaper clippings.Tall, lean and smiling, with white hair and a robust beard, I ascertain George
,s Telluride roots run deep.A resident of Telluride since 1971, George
,s love affair with the San Juan Mountains began much earlier.His
grandmother graduated from Telluride High School
, as did a few of his
dad even ran around these hills during his
younger years. ,My dad lived in Ophir.He
was the cook at The Alta, a mining camp south of Mountain Village,, says George
The Hotel TellurideBlack Bear Trading CompanyTravelin TotsGeorge
grew up in Rangely, Colorado, where his
parents owned and operated a restaurant/grocery store.They later moved to Delta, where he
brother attended school.His
first visit to Telluride was in 1959, but that wasn,t the first time he
felt drawn to this alpine paradise.George
,s great grandfather, Charlie Longwill, was a Telluride pioneer, arriving in 1886.
...After completing architecture school at the University of Colorado, George settled in Telluride before there was a public ski resort.Since that time, he,s lead a colorful existence and been a vital member of the community.His many contributions include being a driving force in establishing the town,s Historic Architectural Review Committee, being a longstanding member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a Town Council member, and a co-founder of a wilderness preservation group called San Miguel Citizen,s Alliance, an influence behind what became the Western Colorado Congress.
,s run for county commissioner and mayor.While many factors have molded George
,s life here, he
attributes two driving forces in particular; the numerous residences he
,s occupied and breakfast, yes breakfast.,Single guys in the 70s ate breakfast together, every morning,, says George. ,We,d drink coffee for hours, often til noon and then have lunch.,The breakfast joint was the Flour Garden, at the end of town in the Goog Gargoyle Building.It was a particularly memorable locale because, peeking through the glass window next door, was where George
first laid eyes on his future wife, Jeanne Buck.
In 1973, George
bought and moved into 122 South Aspen Street, where his architectural office is housed today. ,I went into Belmont Liquors, which Scott Brown and Davie Greever had reopened, and Scott sent me to Charlie Bell who was selling the house for $21,000,, says George. ,I had $1,500 to my name, so I wasn,t sure what I was going to do, but I told him I,d buy it.,
...Prior to opening his architecture practice, George worked as a carpenter and mason for long-timers like Larry Holmgren and Milt Moore.
Each wooly character on the construction crew had their own cabin, but George
, who got John Wagner,s house, admits that without glass in the windows, his occupancy there was short-lived.
Back in town, George
moved in with a group of strict vegetarians. ,I lost a lot of weight living with those folks and was super healthy; it didn,t last long., Fortunately, another breakfast hot spot opened in the space where Sofio,s stands today.
In 1979, George
moved back into good old 122 and finally had a decent roof over his
also got his
architecture license, opened an office in the old schoolhouse and was neck-deep in his
courting quest for Jeanne.Great times followed as Jeanne eventually moved into 122, deciding finally that George
was a reasonable choice. ,And I,m a good cook,, he
says. ,I think Jeanne keeps me around because of that., The pair operated a natural fruit/vegetable and bedding plant cooperative called Greenbuck Gardens and soon thereafter, their daughter Eleanor Ottilie Greenbank arrived.While George
stayed busy designing houses, Jeanne, a green-thumbed horticulturalist by profession, did everything from manage the Telluride Lodge to keep Steve Catsman,s books, to rip it up on the slopes.
It took George
a good 15 years to catch up with his
wife on skis, which regrettably was around the same time she
femur on Coonskin.By the mid-80s, George
, having grown wiser in the investment world, bought property on Telluride,s east end and built his
family a house.
With over 100 projects in town, many right on main street (the First National Building, Senate Building, Lorenz Building,where the Excelsior Café resides, and Cadeaux,s building), George
,s legacy to Telluride is forever embodied in the buildings he
so beautifully designed.He
,s contributed much time and effort toward maintaining the intregity and charismatic vibes of this western town.