The Stone House Inn is a boutique inn hosting two fine guest rooms, and is located downtown in the historic, genuine, and unpretentious cow town of Crawford, CO (population about 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.
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, the Needle Rock monolith, 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 sometimes be found enjoying a malt there. Fans often stop by the Crawford cemetery to pay their respects to Joe. If interested in locating Joe's grave, just ask and we will direct you. 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 Inn not dedicated to our guest's comfort.
Nathan was raised on a century family farm in north central Ohio. After graduating from the College of Wooster with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, he chose to relocate to Crawford (on a whim) in the mid 1990's. Nathan had a long career in community banking, but has also at various times been co-owner of a small town newspaper, a town trustee, a volunteer DJ with community radio, an officer of the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce for over 25 years - not to mention his 20+ years as an innkeeper.
Lara was raised in western New York state, also attended the College of Wooster (where she and Nathan were college sweethearts for a time), and then worked for many years in the National Park system. Lara has lived all across America from Maine to California (including stints at Shenandoah National Park, The National Mall, Herbert Hoover's Birthplace, and Joshua Tree National Park - all before finally joining Nathan and choosing the North Fork Valley to put down roots.
The Stone House Inn opened for business in November of 2000, following significant renovations. Some might say the project has bordered on being a personal crusade by the Inn's owners to restore a long-neglected but fine home into an intriguing and comfortable lodging establishment, catering to the traveler 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 & Sally Collins, using sandstone quarried 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 five children might attend the new town 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 utilized. 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 - with the caller and band on the porch. I met my husband at a 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 stored all the Town records and ordinances in an upstairs bedroom”. 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 a quarter century of improvements we like to think the house is now in a condition that Sally and Kenly would approve of. 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 a fascinating history of Crawford Country, we 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 Hotchkiss/Crawford Historical Society museum in Hotchkiss, at the used book store in Hotchkiss, and at the Secret Door Book Store a half a block up the hill. They make excellent reading while spending a relaxing afternoon on the porch swing.