By Connie Rapalski
The Saguache County Museum began as an idea that grew into a huge community project. At the time, all Colorado communities were asked to join in the 1976 Centennial celebration of the Rush to the Rockies, which brought miners and other pioneers to Colorado. Several clubs including the Saguache Women’s Club along with the Community Council started a movement to Save Our Jail. A museum was chosen because the jail and the old Jailer’s Home were scheduled to be torn down. The museum was originally to be located there for only a year, but now, 59 years later it remains in the same location.
The old jail was built in 1908, and the 1870s residence was built by Otto Mears. Neither building was in good shape. It took a lot of volunteers and donations to turn the house and yard into something suitable to hold a collection.
Unsolicited, people from Villa Grove, Center, Crestone, Hooper and Saguache began donating items. The museum started with a Nutmeg Grinder and two broken show cases.
In 1972, the Memorial Room was added, thanks to donations. In 2004, the museum secured $170,000 in grants and used it to add on the Virginia Sutherland Room. Originally, Sutherland headed up the museum committee for her club. She served as Chairman of the Museum for 56 years, and today continues on the Board of Directors as Chairman Emeritus.