A Look Inside the Paris Mill

Jessica Reske

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a historic gold mill high in the Rocky Mountains looks like?  I’ve been working on the Paris Mill for the last four years and the building never ceases to amaze me!  Keep reading for a glimpse inside this unique structure!

Paris Mill South Elevation

Constructed in multiple phases, the earliest section of the Paris Mill was built in 1895 to process gold being mined high on Mount Bross in Buckskin Gulch.  The Mill operated for over 40 years, shutting down operations in 1937.  From 1937 until 1977 the building sat vacant.  In 1977, the Mill was briefly re-opened to work a drilling operation in Buckskin Gulch.  The Mill closed permanently shortly thereafter.

In 2004 the Mill structure was listed on Colorado Preservation Inc.’s list of Most Endangered Places.  In 2013, I became involved in the project when Park County received a grant to begin rehabilitation of the building.  Since then, I have been part of the rehabilitation of two sections of the building, and completed a Master Plan for the site.  Currently Form+Works Design Group is working on a construction documents package for the next three phases of rehabilitation for the building.

As part of the current scope of work, the building was LiDAR scanned which resulted in a digital 3D model of the building.  Visual Globe completed this endeavor, and from their model, the design team has been able to produce accurate floor plans, elevations, and sections of this complex building.

In mid-April, Form+Works Design Group and JVA, Inc. completed a site visit to document the current conditions of the building and identify a schematic design level scope of work.  Our site visit included a top to bottom look of the inside of the Mill.

Throughout the Mill much of the original equipment remains in place.  One of the goals of the project is to allow visitors interior access throughout the building.  This will provide greater understanding of how the milling process works as well as insight into the lives of the miners who worked at mills such as the Paris.  The following photos were taken inside the Paris Mill earlier this Spring and provide just a glimpse of the amazing Mill structure and the equipment remaining inside.  Stay tuned for updates as we continue to work on this unique project!





Ten in Ten: Happy Preservation Month

May is Historic Preservation Month and to help raise awareness for the National Trust’s This Place Matters campaign we wanted to share our May adventures to date! With the thaw of winter, the bustle of site visits and kick-off meetings is upon us! Form+Works has spent the last 10 days visiting 10 great people and places around the state which help tell the story of our rich heritage.

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On May 1 we completed a window assessment for the gorgeous masonry buildings along Platte Street between 15th and 16th Streets in Denver.

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On May 2 we had the opportunity to travel to Crested Butte for the kick-off meeting for our project at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum.

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On May 3 we attended the construction meeting at Ponderosa Lodge on the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center in the Black Forest.  This phase of the project is nearly complete!

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May 4 we headed to Pueblo for field documentation work at the Hose Co. No. 3 building, the current home of the Pueblo Fire Museum.


On Cinco de Mayo we toured the Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine in Creede, Colorado with our friends at Wattle and Daub Contractors to evaluate current conditions and determine emergency repairs required. The mine operated between 1911 and 1950 and the fluorite was sent to Pueblo to be used as a flux at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.


We met with the Colorado Springs Historic Preservation Board on May 8 to discuss the Colorado Springs Depot Masonry Rehabilitation project.  Construction Documents to be completed soon with construction anticipated later this year!

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On May 9, we met with the City of Loveland and the Pulliam Community Foundation to discuss the upcoming rehabilitation of the Pulliam Community Building.

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While we were up in northern Colorado, we also dropped off the permit drawings for the Bessie Smith House.  Soon the house will be set on its new foundation!

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We also found time to head to Briggsdale with Colorado Preservation Inc. to check out the Land Utilization Headquarters buildings.  We’re looking forward to working together on a Historic Structure Assessment for the buildings.


Finally, on May 10 we checked out the City of Aurora’s WWI Memorial, located on the UCD Anschutz Campus.  The Memorial will be the subject of an assessment and documentation effort in preparation for cleaning and restoration.

We’ve already had a busy Historic Preservation Month – we are looking forward to continuing to work with great clients and their beautiful historic buildings and structures!

World’s Wonder View Tower

Jessica Reske

The World’s Wonder View Tower, also known as the Genoa Tower Museum, was constructed in 1926.  The tower occupies a site on Genoa Hill in Lincoln County, Colorado at an elevation of 5,600 feet above sea level.  With the top of the tower at an elevation of 5,751 feet above sea level, at the time of construction, the upper deck of the tower reached the highest elevation point between New York and Denver as confirmed by the US Geological Survey.  From this vantage point, on a clear day one could view six states: Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  The extent of this vista was noted in Ripley’s Believe It or Not column in 1933.

The original 1926 construction included the tower with a single-story room to either side.  Additional structures were gradually added to the site and ultimately connected in 1968 to form one building.  These structures included a gas station, trading post, café, and a small lodging facility.  This complex provided a resting point for travelers along Highway 24.  During World War II, the facility was open 24 hours a day, providing a rest stop for soldiers being bussed cross-country.  Following construction of Interstate 70 and the end of rail passenger traffic past the site in the 1970s, visitation to the tower declined.  The tower was closed to the public in 2013.  In 2017, the tower was added to Colorado Preservation Inc.’s list of Most Endangered Places.   

I recently had the opportunity to tour the facility with Colorado Preservation, Inc. and the new owners of the building.  The building is quite unique in form, having been constructed in multiple phases with sections of wood framing, concrete, and masonry.  The masonry walls feature large rocks and petrified wood set in mortar.  The owners of the building shared that the concrete roof reinforcement is accomplished with bed springs, lawn mower parts, and other miscellaneous metals.  Inside the café, the rock walls feature paintings by Princess Ravenwing, a Sioux Tribe artist.  A theatre area of the building includes a stage as well as an audience area with additional paintings.  A wide variety of detritus remains in the building from its era as a museum, including a large collection of glass bottles, books, and rocks. 

Form+Works Design Group is looking forward to working with Colorado Preservation, Inc. and the new owners of the building to update an Historic Structure Assessment previously completed in 2000 and to develop a rehabilitation plan for the building to ensure its preservation for future generations.