Henry Rehder and his wife, Helen Rehder

Old Building, circa 1990s.

Rehder Building Today

Rehder Building History


  2014 marks the 109th anniversary of the First National Bank/Rehder Building it’s colorful history. Since it’s construction in 1905, it has housed the Ford Garage offices, an auto parts store, a dentist’s office, an insurance office, and uranium company office. Later, it was divided into various retail and commercial spaces from an ice cream shop to photography studio to home furnishings. The 1920 addition was the Ford Garage, a creamery and cheese factory, a farm implement repair shop and eventually three restaurants.


  The entire building is important is as a landmark because it symbolizes the progression of a frontier town in the early 1900’s to a thriving commercial community in the 21st century. The significance of this building is a result of its architectural style, materials, age, and degree of preservation. The original building was constructed during a unique period in Steamboat’s history, when the town was prosperous but still relatively isolated from the outside world. It is a local example of the Romanesque Revival style. Moreover, the building has proved its ability to adapt to changing community needs without sacrificing its historic and architectural integrity.


  After it’s founding in 1900, the city of Steamboat Springs developed as a local agricultural and mining center. The first business district grew up along Lincoln Avenue with the Rehder building being in the center of this area. Today it is an anchor not only for the downtown business district but also for the newly designated Downtown Historic District as well as Arts and Culture in Steamboat Springs and Northwestern Colorado.


  The 1905 building has a commanding front façade that is dominated by a central, Romanesque sandstone archway. There are large display windows with flat arches on either side that frame three recessed front doors. The walls of the first story are made of 12” x 20” blocks of native beige rock-faced sandstone set in regular courses. The second story is made of hand-pressed local red-clay brick. Cut sandstone window heads, corner quoins, belt course and parapet, plus two corbelled brick stringcourses create visual interest in the second story façade. The building has two styles represented; Richardsonian Romanesque and Renaissance Revival style. According to the Molly Brown House in Denver, these styles were especially popular with Western architects because it reflected the size and splendor of the western landscape.


  A handful of unique exterior details add to the visual impact of the building. “First Nat’l Bank” is carved into the main entryway sandstone arch, the word “Bank” is painted in gold letters on the transom window above the front door. The entry doors and upstairs windows are original. The ceiling of the entry way is covered with ornate pressed metal. The front windows are set in the original architrave wood trim on native sandstone sills. A handsome metal plaque denoting the building’s designation as historic draws attention from history and architecture buffs and general passersby alike. 


  The 1920 addition features arched windows and a 1/2 barrel roof and it's interior still has the original trusses and tin ceilings intact. Although the entire building has been divided into various commercial spaces over time, requiring a division of its electrical meters, inefficient heating and cooling, and covering up of original architectural features such as the trusses, some walls and ceilings, our goal is to expose the original architecture to reflect the building’s rich past.


  The Rehder Building and SAM are currently divided into 4 identifiable spaces: (1) The Main Galleries, (2) the Museum Store, and (3) the 2nd floor administration offices and artists' studio/workshop room, all in the original building built in 1905. The fourth space is the one-story 1920 addition added to the back of the building along 8th street to the alley.


  SAM has completed Phase I of rehabilitation to the main galleries, which included electrical, lighting and plumbing upgrades and interior rehabilitation. Phase II involved rehabilitation to the upstairs administration offices which included up to code electrical, heating, lighting and painting while maintaining the building's historic impression.


  Phase III will involve the fourth area - the 1920 addition. This area had been occupied by a variety of high end restaurants for the last 30+ years, therefore it has required Change of Use code compliance in order for it to be eventually usable as part of the museum and public building. We plan to secure funding to for the planning and construction documents necessary to begin rehabilitation to the 1920 addition. This phase will bring the addition up to code for ADA accessibility, HVAC, plumbing and electrical requirements as well as require removal of non-original wall treatments, ceilings and floors to reflect it’s historical past as well as provide open and versatile exhibit space. Phase III will move us closer to our goals of the creation of twice the exhibit space and developing an art research library, a workshop space and art storage and receiving area.


  The Rehder Building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1994 and is included in a new designation of the Downtown Historic District by the State of Colorado. SAM is fortunate to occupy one of the largest buildings open to the public within this designation. This opens us up to the unique opportunity to seize upon educational opportunities to the public not only about the art in our exhibits, but also about the buildings’ and community’s history. As art reflects a snapshot of a place or era in history, the Rehder building reflects the evolution of our town from its frontier roots to a thriving municipality. We are included in a historic landmark walking tour hosted by the Tread of the Pioneers museum, and plan to offer tours about our building by our docents trained in its history. 

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© Steamboat Art Museum,

807 Lincoln Ave.,

P.O. Box 883434, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488

970-870-1755 ::: 

www.steamboatartmuseum.org ::: sam@steamboatartmuseum.org