Constructed in the year 1882, the Old Chaffee County Courthouse in Buena Vista, Colorado is now the home of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum. Among the numerous exhibits at the museum are several newer exhibits. These include a kayaking and rafting exhibit, a display of tokens and coins, a display of an antique pharmacy, and a mining exhibit among others.
The Fashion Room at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum features several different interesting items of clothing. Among the various clothing items are a number of wedding dresses, hats, petticoats, shoes, children’s clothing, and men’s clothing. Two quite rare examples of a petticoat represent the lost “netting” art. There is also a pair of boots from the 1920’s that Byrd Fuqua wore while roping a cougar.
The black wedding dress on display at the museum once belonged to a woman by the name of Colorado Condrell Hewitt Waible. According to her family, Colorado Deborah Condrell was born en route to America aboard the U.S.S. Colorado. Her mother unfortunately died not too long after giving birth, so the captain was the one to give her a name and chose to name the orphaned girl after the ship.
In the Industry and Commerce Room of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum the amazing collections of various rocks, semi-precious gemstones, and minerals of Stan Noga are on display. Samples, equipment, and ledger books from many mines in the local area represent the significance of the mining industry in Buena Vista. The industries of recreation and tourism are also shown through the museum’s animal mounts found throughout the exhibit room. Artifacts representing other industries of importance to life within the Upper Arkansas Valley are also displayed, including farming and ranching. The spittoons and oak cabinet were originally used in the actual courthouse.
The showcases at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum feature an array of miscellaneous objects, including items from a time capsule buried by the school children. The schoolroom is a favorite among visitors of all ages due to the many pictures of the town’s graduating classes. Examples of school newspapers, as well as old raised maps can also be seen. Visitors can sit down for a moment at one of the old wooden desks and flip through old scrapbooks and catalogs of the Montgomery Ward. A primitive examining table once used by a local doctor, as well as other various medical objects, are also displayed in the room.
The expansive room located upstairs in the Buena Vista Heritage Museum was once the old building’s heart, a courtroom that saw several exciting cases. One such case was that of Nicolo Ferminello, an Italian man accused of murdering a man by stabbing. He was sentenced to death for the crime. His death was the only “legal” hanging in Chaffee County. Ferminello was hung behind the county’s jail complex.
The room still has the original chair and bench of the judge. The historical, extensive model train display at the Buena Vista Heritage Museum is reflective of the one hundred and thirty miles of railroads of the Upper Arkansas River Valley is upstairs as well. The display illustrates the area when railroading and mining were popular industries in the region.
506 East Main Street, Buena Vista, Colorado, Phone: 719-395-8458
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