SAGUACHE — Andy Hackbarth has led the life of a modern-day troubadour for the better part of the past decade. Growing up in Carbondale, Hackbarth attended the Aspen Music School before graduating from CU Boulder with a degree in classical guitar performance. Adulthood found him writing music and performing, splitting his time between Denver and Nashville. Soon after, he began to spend winters aboard cruise ships as a musician- sailing on dozens of vessels, visiting 50 countries and seeing some of the most tropical locations the world has to offer. The troubadour embraced the pirate’s life, eventually spending 9 months of the year performing at sea.
Late summer of 2019 found Hackbarth back home in the Centennial State, road tripping with a friend from South Africa. On a whim the pair made a detour to Saguache to look at rustic cabin in town that was for sale. Andy recalls the trip, “As many visitors to Saguache are, I was instantly drawn to the Saguache Hotel at the end of the downtown business district, across the street from the county courthouse. It has a commanding presence and is oozing with character, straight out of the turn of the 20th century. I instantly fell in love with it and I could hear the wheels in my head start to turn. It had never even crossed my mind to purchase (much less run) a business in a 100 plus year-old building, but I just felt an instant connection with the property.
I was only able to do one walk through before I had to leave to get back on a cruise ship for the winter.”
Halfway around the world at sea, thoughts of the Saguache Hotel stuck with Hackbarth. Researching the property online in his down time brought the history of the two-story guest house into focus. Opening in 1910, the inn held close stories frozen in time. Some told clearly, many others disconnected by decades, some those involved would prefer forgotten. The hotel was many things to many people in the area, both residents of Saguache and those passing thru. Beds and hot meals were provided, The Cattlemen’s Association called regular meetings, the onsite barber and dentist attended to the needs of those who came down from the mountains. Ladies of the night, card sharks and bartenders attended to other needs in the saloon on the ground floor. For those who heeded Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go West” the Saguache Hotel was a way station along the journey. Life decisions were made, fortunes were sought.
November of 2019 saw Hackbarth taking a leap of faith of his own, purchasing the Saguache Hotel while at sea. The transaction was navigated from a cruise ship in the Caribbean, with spotty phone service only being available for a couple of hours a day. With the help of a grant from History Colorado and the State Historical Fund a chance encounter with an abandoned hotel led to a new chapter of Hackbarth’s life, one where music and business intersect. After lying dormant for almost three decades the hotel once again emboldened the entrepreneurial spirit that first breathed life into it 110 years ago.
Over the next two years Andy intends to completely rehab the property- reimagining indoor and outdoor spaces for music performances which include a coffee shop and a cocktail lounge. A number of guest rooms will occupy the 2nd floor, with great care being taken to preserve the 1920’s feel of the property. Sustainable building practices and green initiatives will be a major focus of the renovation. Plans include installation of active and passive solar elements and masonry heaters- which will be fueled by locally sourced wood rendered from forest fires and pest damage. Non-toxic hempcrete insulation will be used throughout the property, as will re-purposed materials harvested during the demolition phase. Farm to table practices will also be incorporated into the operation as food and beverage service comes online.
“For the first 12-18 months I will be wearing most of the hats – general contractor, marketing, fundraising, day-to-day accounting, maintenance, etc.,” says Hackbarth. “Green building initiatives and renovation will be the focus in the short term. After that I’ll focus on music and arts programming, bringing in conferences and retreats, working with the other businesses in town to promote events on a larger scale. I’d like to be as eclectic as possible – bands on the weekends, piano bar sets, singer-songwriters, country, Americana, jazz, etc. I’d like to put on at least one outdoor music festival a year and I’ll also be working in conjunction with the Ute Theater on some other programming.”
A grand opening for the historic Saguache Hotel is slated for June of 2022. Follow progress on Instagram and Facebook and at http://www.saguachehotel.com. Andy will be documenting the construction process and hosting acoustic music sessions from various locations inside the building as the transformation takes place.
View a guided video tour of the hotel and make donations at:
To share stories about the Saguache Hotel, or to volunteer time/supplies email Andy at: [email protected]