photos and story by Mike Rosso
A prominent Pueblo-based architect with multiple buildings listed on the National Historic Register is responsible for the “Art Deco” style typified in the original Chaffee County Courthouse in Salida.
Walter DeMordaunt, who practiced architecture in Pueblo, Colorado from 1920 to 1962, was hired to design the courthouse in 1929 after a controversial 1928 election was held that moved the county seat from Buena Vista to Salida. But the controversy did not end there. Disputes over the use of contractors and local labor overshadowed the construction. Over DeMordaunt’s objections, county officials decided to brick over the stained glass windows he designed for the records vaults citing security issues, according to the book, Trails of the Columbine. “Private citizens” supposedly took matters into their own hands and removed the offending brickwork but it was later reinstalled where it remains to this day. The courthouse officially opened in its new Salida home in January of 1932.