It was the shared dream of Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin. They wanted to rehabilitate a historic cattle ranch into a residential library dedicated to the American West. This is how the Rocky Mountain Land Library began.
Lee and Martin met while working at Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store. Together they went on a trip to Gladstone’s, a residential library in Flintshire, North Wales. The idea of a residential library was completely new to them. They were inspired by living among books, but there was more to it than that. It was not just the books, but that the library was a jumping off point for the rest of Wales.
Upon returning to America, they knew they wanted to do something similar. Lee commented, “The combination of the books, the place, the landscape got us thinking about, wow, wouldn’t this be wonderful in Colorado?” After some searching, in 2013 the City of Aurora leased them the Buffalo Peaks Ranch for a term of 95 years. The ranch is some 10 miles outside of Fairplay Colorado, and during its peak, it operated as a cattle ranch.
Today, the land has 6 buildings which have been out of use for several decades. There are 2 barns, a bunkhouse, a maintenance garage, Cook’s house, and the main house. Lee and Martin hope to renovate all of these buildings to make room for workshops, residencies, retreats, and of course to store the library. On the setting Lee remarked, “The stories of people and the land couldn’t be told in a better place than this high mountain ranch, threaded by trout streams and elk trails, with traces of native tribes and early settlers still visible on the land.”
Lee and Martin have a collection of some 35,000 books ready for the library. However, they need renovations to happen before they can begin moving books from storage into The Rocky Mountain Land Library. Their first focus is Cook’s House. Thanks to the help of volunteers, the roof and siding of this building have been replaced, but there is much more to do. That is why Lee and Martin have opened up a Kickstarter to raise funds to finish renovations of this building. At the moment of writing this, the Kickstarter has raised $64,868 of a goal $125,000. The Kickstarter will end on April 7th.
The Cook’s house, once complete, will have two bedrooms, a kitchen, classroom space, and a portion of the library. While some visitors to the ranch have taken to camping out in the fields, the bedrooms are for those who prefer other options. When the ranch is finished, Cook’s house will continue to be a center of activity.
To raise awareness of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, Lee and Martin set up a pop-up exhibit in 2016. The event was held in an old Puritan Pie Factory. Visitors were able to peruse a collection of carefully selected books that went with the setting.
Will you visit the Rocky Mountain Land Library?
YouTube Channel: Wintonmedia
Featured image via Kickstarter
h/t The Denver Post