The Stone House Inn is a two-guestroom boutique inn located downtown in the historic, genuine, and unpretentious cow town of Crawford, CO (population 400). What is a "boutique inn"? We would describe it as a bed and breakfast -minus the breakfast - and with an emphasis on offering the sort of comfort, quality, amenities and unique lodging experience not available in a run-of-the-mill motel. As believers in the "local is better" philosophy, we feel we can offer a taste of this remarkable area that is simply not available to those choosing lodging that comes with a well-known franchise name attached to it.
Crawford is best known for its proximity to the wonders of the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the Crawford State Park reservoir, the wild lands of the West Elk wilderness... and also as the (adopted) hometown of late rock/blues legend, Joe Cocker, who in the late 1990's, opened the popular Mad Dog Ranch Fountain Café just a block north of the Inn. In days past, Joe could often anonymously be found enjoying a malt there. Crawford is located in west central Colorado, on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, and on the southern tip of the ranching and organic farming paradise known as the North Fork Valley.
Your innkeepers, Nathan and Lara, and daughter Jillian, call the Inn home and reside in the portion of the house not dedicated to our guest's comfort.
Nathan was raised in north central Ohio. After attending the College of Wooster to major in Philosophy, he chose to relocate to Crawford (on a whim) in the mid 1990's, has had a career in banking, small town newspaper publishing, and innkeeping. Lara was raised in western New York state and has lived all across America from Maine to California - choosing the paradise of the North Fork Valley to put down roots.
The Stone House Inn opened for business in November of 2000, following an ongoing multi-year home renovation. Some might say the project has bordered on being a personal crusade by the Inn's owner, to restore a long-neglected, but fine, home into an intriguing and comfortable lodging establishment, catering to the traveller with finer tastes, high expectations, and an appreciation for history.
While that is a thumbnail of recent history, how about digging deeper... The stone home that today houses the Stone House Inn was built in 1907 by Kenley and Sally Collins, using sandstone from the walls of the nearby Smith Fork Canyon, and was styled after the traditional broad-front stone houses familiar in their native Virginia. The Collins family homesteaded a ranch on Virginia Flats, an area about seven miles southeast of Crawford, but decided to build this house as a winter home, so that their children might attend school in the colder months. The Collins family, who also owned a blacksmith shop across the street (no longer standing), owned the home until the early 1940’s.
After another short-term owner, the home was sold to American Legion Post 190 in 1948. The Legion used the home for their functions over the next thirty years. Farm meetings, square dances, potluck dinners and many other community functions took place over this period, as the house was a gathering center for the area. (The downstairs front portion of the house was originally divided similarly to how it is now, although when the American Legion owned it, they removed the dividing wall, so that a large meeting room could be had. In renovating, we rebuilt the original dividing walls adding bathrooms where there was once a stairway). An elderly local lady recalled upon seeing the renovation, “We used to have the best square dances here. Two squares going in the main room and one out on the street. I met my husband at a square dance here.” A touching testimony to the personal historic value this home has for many local residents.
Between the late 1970’s and 1982, the home was used as Crawford’s first official Town Hall. A past Town Clerk related, “We used to store all the Town records and ordinances in a bedroom upstairs”. In 1982 the Town government moved to its present location at the old stone schoolhouse on the main street, and the home was once again in private hands. The house continued to fall into greater disrepair, as it was largely vacant between 1982 and 1996, when the current owner purchased the home. After over 20 years of improvements we like to think it is now in a condition that would be approved of by Sally and Kenley. Prior to the renovation, ceilings were falling in, plaster crumbling, the roof was leaking and coal soot covered the mint green painted walls - everything was painted mint green!
If you would like to read some fascinating history of Crawford Country, we strongly recommend that you seek out Mamie Ferrier and George Sibley's wonderful set of local history books titled Long Horns and Short Tails. These books and many others are available at the Historical Society museum in Hotchkiss or at the used book store in Hotchkiss. They make excellent reading while spending a relaxing afternoon on the porch swing.