Yesterday and Today, Al Birch House, “Jacob’s Ladder” – Estes Park Trail-Gazette


Inspired by the museum’s historic July walk to the Birch Ruins, the Estes Park Museum and Friends of the Museum dedicate today’s column to the Al Birch House, located in the Centennial Open Space in Knoll -Willows accessible either from the parking lot in front of the Stanley hotel. on Wonderview Avenue or from the Town Hall parking lot.

The book “Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park: Then and Now” helps to understand the rich and complex history of our region through photographs. First published in 2006, the revised edition contains over 500 photographs of 142 historic sites, including 44 sites new to this edition. The Estes Park Museum Friends & Foundation, Inc., Press published the revised edition in 2019, with text written by award-winning Estes Park historian James H. Pickering and photographs by Mic Clinger and Derek Fortini.

Today’s excerpt is from the book’s second portfolio: The Village Site 42: Al Birch House, “Jacob’s Ladder”.

“It was once the home of Denver Post writer Albert G. ‘Al’ Birch. Birch arrived at Estes Park in 1902 at the age of 19 and, along with two other young men, traced a trail to Bear Lake and spent the summer there. Falling in love with the region, he decides to make it his summer residence. Two years later, Birch engaged with master stonemason Carl Piltz to build a one-story house with a semicircular porch at the edge of the mound, accessible by stone steps built into the hillside.

The house was apparently completed in the spring or summer of 1905, as the Fort Collins Weekly Courier tells us that Birch had spent the previous winter living at the nearby “English Ranch” of the Earl of Dunraven, no doubt for that. he can keep an eye on the construction. . Birch named his retreat “Jacob’s Ladder,” because the colors refracted through the leaded glass front door reminded him of Joseph’s many-colored biblical mantle.

But Al Birch soon grew tired of the place – perhaps because of the difficulty of access that made it unique – and in the spring of 1907 he sold it to a certain JR Young. One night of December 21, 1907, the flames of the fireplace somehow ignited the wood of the floors and beams, leaving “Jacob’s Ladder” a blackened ruin. Birch, however, quickly regained ownership. As the Longmont Ledger explained on July 3, 1908, “Mr. Birch, whose house was burnt down last winter after selling it, has a judgment against the buyer and has reclaimed his place and $ 7,000… ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ has never been rebuilt. “I couldn’t live enough there to justify the expense,” Birch said later.

If you would like to read more about Al Birch House, or other Friends Press books, go online at to see the full collection. You can also stop by the Estes Park Museum and its gift shop, Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also check the museum’s website ( for the next Birch Ruins Historical Walk in August.

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