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This is a contributing entry for The Frisco Historic Park & Museum and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.

The Frisco Schoolhouse was built in 1899 by Oliver Swanson as a saloon. The Summit County school district purchased the newly constructed building and reopened it as a school in 1901. The Frisco Schoolhouse remained in operation until 1963 when it was turned into administration and storage space. By 1980, the Schoolhouse was in danger of being demolished. The citizens rallied and restored the Schoolhouse as part of the creation of the Frisco Historic Park & Museum. The Schoolhouse is now listed on the National Register for Historic Places and serves as the primary exhibit space for the Frisco Historic Park & Museum, serving more than 35,000 guests a year.

  • The Frisco Schoolhouse in 1910 with Miss Lynch, teacher, and a group of 15 children. Note the telephone poles and the Victorian era cupola.
  • The Frisco Schoolhouse circa 1956. Note the flag pole and the balcony above the front doors.
  • Teacher Alfred Boyd and his mother at the rear of the schoolhouse in 1956. Boyd lived in the second floor of the Schoolhouse.
  • This undated photo shows the extension on the rear of the school and the second entrance on the side installed in the late 1950s. The small balcony on the front of the building was intended as a fire escape from the second floor attic.
  • The restoration of the Schoolhouse in 1983. Note the empty cupola.
  • The Frisco Schoolhouse on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue. The schoolhouse is the center piece of the Frisco Historic Park & Museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Spaces.
  • This concept drawing dates to the mid-1980s as the park was just beginning to develop. One of the biggest differences is the grass covered, open area surrounding the gazebo. Today the Historic Park hosts ten historic cabins and buildings along with an outhouse, a spring house, and the open-air gazebo.

Until 1963, school children in Frisco went to the old Schoolhouse on Main Street. Today, the Schoolhouse is the primary exhibit space for the Frisco Historic Park & Museum. It hosts a variety of exhibits on the history of Frisco and the surrounding area as well as a model train diorama and a nature diorama. The museum was operated by the former Frisco Historical Society until 2006 when Town of Frisco assumed operations.

The late 1890s and early 1900s saw a second revival in the Summit County mining industry after the removal of the Silver Purchase Act in 1893 and the subsequent silver crash. Investors on the East Coast poured money into the local mines with hopes that one of them would turn a profit. Some mines did, drawing more people to the area. Frisco was situated as a way-stop with two railway lines running through the town into the Tenmile Canyon- one line even ran down the alley just a block off of Main Street! With several hotels and multiple saloons, Frisco seemed set for success. There was even enough children to call for a new, larger school building.

Oliver Swanson had begun mining in the Tenmile Canyon much earlier. He never struck it rich, leading him to sell his mines and build a saloon at the edge of town close to the mouth of the Tenmile Canyon. He sold the building in October 1901 to Simon Schloss of Lake City, Colorado. That same month, Frisco citizens approved a bond to build a new schoolhouse. By November, the school district had purchased the building from Schloss for $1500. During the renovations in 1901-1902 some parts of the saloon were kept intact like the cellar initially constructed to hold alcohol and a small water well. These pieces still exist today hidden underneath the joists and floor boards. The beautiful white cupola on the top of the Schoolhouse was designed by Victorian architect Elias Nashold in 1882. The cupola and the bell were moved from an old Breckenridge school to Frisco.

The decline of the Frisco mining industry in the late 1910s also meant a slow decline in population. Frisco's electricity and phone service was turned off and the railroads pulled up their tracks. By 1930, the town population dropped to 18 people. This would not be the first time the Frisco Schoolhouse was temporarily closed. A shortage of teachers, too few students, illness and outbreaks, and lack of money often closed small town schools. Frisco children would be sent to the Dillon school or even Breckenridge and return to school in Frisco once circumstances allowed.

People began to return to Frisco over the next few decades as large-scale construction projects began at Loveland Pass, the Dillon Reservoir, and the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels. The emergence of local ski resorts also began to pull people back into the area. As with most one-room schoolhouses in small towns, the teacher would live with a local family or even above the schoolhouse in the attic. A recent visit by a former Frisco student prompted memories of only the most well-behaved children being asked to ring the bell, get water from the well, or fetch the teacher something from the attic.

The Schoolhouse bell was once the center of much controversy. The schoolhouse was undergoing some renovations in the summer of 1975 with scaffolding going up the building. On August 11, 1975, Superintendent James Beck was sitting across the street eating breakfast when he noticed the empty bell tower. A full investigation was done but the 350lb bell was no where to be found. Twelve years later, new Breckenridge homeowners Jeff and Gail Stephens found a large bell half-buried in their yard. They moved it inside and even briefly used it as a wood bin. A friend mentioned the stolen Frisco bell to the couple who contacted the Frisco Police Department. Luckily, just prior to the bell disappearing Reverend Fiester had documented the engravings on the bell. Using his notes, Feister was able to match the engravings and verify the bell was indeed the Frisco bell. The bell was restored to the bell tower and it rang out on Christmas Eve, 1988.

Doggett, Suzanne, Holly Wilson, "Rural School Buildings in Colorado," National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, March 1999.

Gilliland, Mary Ellen. Summit: A Gold Rush history of Summit County, Colorado. Edition Fifth. Silverthorne, Colorado. Alpenrose Press, 2006.

La Barr, Mr. C. M. Interview with Caitlin Lewis. Frisco Historic Park & Museum. April, 2, 2011.

Mather, Sandra F. Images of America Frisco and the Ten Mile Canyon. Charleston, South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2011.

Mather, Sandra F. Images of America Summit County. Charleston, South Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2008.

Queen, Jack . "At 117 years old, Frisco's schoolhouse bell has been through a lot, including a kidnapping." Summit Daily (Frisco) June 24th 2017. Online ed, Online sec.

The Story of Frisco, Colorado. Nixon, Tim . Performed by Dr. Sandra F. Mather, Ph.D.. United States. Baughan Productions, 2017.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Department, X-8560

Frisco Historic Park & Museum Collection

Frisco Historic Park & Museum Collection

Frisco Historic Park & Museum

Frisco Historic Park & Museum

Photo courtesy of Todd Powell

Frisco Historic Park & Museum