The Wheeler–Stallard House is located on West Bleeker Street in Aspen, Colorado, United States. It is an 1880s brick structure built in the Queen Anne architectural style, and renovated twice in the 20th century. In 1975 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by Jerome B. Wheeler, an early investor in Aspen's silver mines during its boomtown years. He and two wealthy tenants rarely spent much time in the house before the Colorado Silver Boom ended in 1893. After a decade of vacancy, it became the home of the Stallard family for much of the early 20th century, the "quiet years" when Aspen's economy was depressed and its remaining residents struggled to make a living.
Buildings and grounds
The house and its lot take up most of the north side of the block of West Bleeker between North Fifth, North Sixth and West Hallam streets in Aspen's residential West End. Main Street, part of State Highway 82, the only through road to and from the city, is a block to the south. One block further south the level terrain gives way to the slopes of Aspen Mountain There is a detached garage and parking lot in the rear. The building itself is a three-story structure of brick on a stone foundation laid in common bond with wooden trim. The cross-gabled roof has a shed-roofed dormer window on the south face; the west gable ends in a jerkin roof and the other three have projecting central sections. Three tall fluted brick chimneys rise from the sides. The first story of the south (front) elevation has a projecting flat-roofed bay window on the west; a pent-roofed balustraded porch begins on the east and wraps around that entire elevation.
The house's history has roughly four periods: its early years after Wheeler built it, during which it was never occupied by its residents for a long period and later fell vacant when the city's economy faltered; the Stallard family's occupancy and later ownership in the first half of the 20th century, Aspen's "quiet years"; Walter Paepcke's ownership in the years after World War II; and its present ownership by the historical society.
1889–92: Construction and Wheeler years
Jerome B. Wheeler, then the minority partner in the Macy's department store chain, first visited Aspen in 1883. The rapidly growing community had not existed a decade earlier, and had only incorporated as a city four years earlier. The silver miners who were its earliest settlers looked to someone like Wheeler as the kind of Eastern investor who could make it practical to extract the extensive silver deposits in the surrounding mountains—at the time, it was necessary to haul any significant amounts of ore over the Continental Divide at Independence Pass to Leadville, where the nearest smelter was, via mule train.
1893–1945: Stallards and quiet years
There is no record of anyone living in the house in the years immediately following the crash. This was the beginning of a half-century of Aspen's history referred to as "the quiet years", during which the collapse of the mining industry and ensuing economic contraction led to a steady population decline. At its nadir, in 1930, around 500 lived in a city which had once been home to over 10,000.
1945–69: Paepcke years
Like Jerome Wheeler, Paepcke was a wealthy and successful head of a major corporation (Container Corporation of America) who visited Aspen while vacationing elsewhere in Colorado. He and his wife Elizabeth, both avid supporters of the arts, had been looking for an American location for a classical music festival similar to the Salzburg Festival in Austria. Aspen's mountain setting was ideal, but the city's many derelict buildings were a problem. The couple was convinced that, if restored their Victorian charm would make Aspen a place visitors would want to return to.