Twin Lakes, CO – Historic
The Dexter House at the Interlaken Historic Resort is an old house, originally called Dexter Cabin, that James Dexter and his family lived in while operating the Interlaken Resort. The historic site is accessed primarily by the Interlaken Trail, a small section of the Colorado Trail.
More information about the Interlaken Historic Resort can be found at:
National Register of Historic Places – Interlaken Resort District
Wikipedia – Interlaken Resort District
Dexter was born “at sea” off the coast of New Orleans in 1836. As an entrepreneur of the late 19th century, Dexter founded several mining companies and banks in Colorado. He was known for his collection of gems, rare coins and Chinese porcelains. He took time to savor and enjoy life, as only the wealthy of the time could do.
Dexter built this summer home in 1895 for the exclusive use of his family. Its distinctive architecture mirrors a Captain’s House Dexter admired in New England. Dexter transported birdseye maple and other expensive woods from the East Coast for the interior paneling, fireplace and furniture.
The interior wall treatment is the same as Dexter’s “poker house” in Leadville. That structure is located on the grounds of the Healy House Museum and is open to the public.
Dexter had four children from his first marriage. Upon his death, his second wife and two twin daughters from his first marriage, Adda and Harriett, inherited the Twin Lakes property.
Eugene Bond, a law partner of one of Dexter’s descendants, purchased the property in the 1930’s. He maintained the summer home for his own use, but the rest of the structures fell into disuse.”
By the early 1970’s, with the construction of the Twin Lakes Storage Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation, the buildings were once again attracting attention. If the lakes were filled to capacity, the buildings would be flooded, and the famous old resort lost forever.
The resort was placed on the National Historic Register in 1974. Plans to transform the derelict resort into an interpretive site for National Forest visitors were developed cooperatively between the Bureau of Reclamation, the Lake County Civic Center Association, and the Colorado Historical Society.
The Hotel and the Dexter Cabin were moved roughly 150 feet to higher ground. The buildings were placed on firm foundations and stabilized. Windows and doors were sealed for protection from wildlife, vandals, and weather. All artifacts associated with the original hotel site are now underwater.
Please help protect this site and the story it tells in its weathered, gray wood. Listen and hear the laughter and music of this Victorian era resort.”
You are inside an architectural gem. James Dexter built this house for his family to live in while they operated the Interlaken Resort next door. All of its owners have respected its historic character, so now we can experience it as the Dexter family did over 125 years ago. There are eight different types of wood on the main floor giving it an eccentric, Victorian look. From the day it was built, the house was posh, with running water including a flush toilet.
In 1979 the house was purchased by the US Government through imminent domain, moved 40 feet up from the lake, and mothballed. The Dexter House, and the Interlaken Resort, remained empty and deteriorating until 2004 when an ambitious undertaking began to restore the house and all the buildings at the resort. Donations of labor, money, and materials have helped the San Isabel National Forest bring back this house and make progress on the other buildings.
Restoration work on this house is almost complete. As each building is restored they will be made available for anyone to use for events, such as weddings, and overnight accommodations. The site will remain inaccessible by car and any energy needs will be generated on site with sustainable technologies.
Please feel free to share your ideas and comments in the Guest Journal. Or you can contact the restoration project director as his office:
USDA Forest Service
740 Simms Street
Lakewood, CO 80401