Putting Down Roots: Couple purchases unincorporated town of Hillside
He lived in scattered places across the United States, but spent his summers near a rural unincorporated town in Fremont County.
So when Chris Seegers learned the entire community was for sale, he knew he needed to save it.
He didn't want Hillside to become another Colorado ghost town.
"I was an insurance broker, and I insured a lot of agriculture facilities ... and you'd see all of these rural communities that kind of dry up because maybe they close a co-op or they close the post office," Seegers said.
Seegers, 29, and his wife, Tara, 28, purchased Hillside in January.
This isn't the first time the town has been sold. Hillside, located 15 miles north of Westcliffe, was bought in 1999, according to documents obtained from the Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center.
Seegers said he and his wife's lodging experience and business education will help them restore the town.
Seegers and his wife both have masters degrees in business and own Lamp Post Lodge in Westcliffe. He is employed at an energy company in Midland, Texas, and his wife is a financial analyst.
The former mining community has a post office/general store, cottages and a few other buildings.
"This year, we are renovating three cottages. Next year, we'll probably renovate at least one more," he said. "I just don't like to see beautiful buildings fall apart. There's just a lot of handmade architecture built into these buildings, and we are trying to renovate them into beautiful modern cottages but keep all those (older) accents."
He said the post office, built in 1904, is in good condition.
"We're hoping we can keep that open because it's an area that local farmers and ranchers meet to drink coffee," Seegers said. "We're hoping to keep it open, but USPS has been shutting down a lot of the rural post offices (lately)."
He said at this time, he doesn't know if new buildings will be built in the community.
"Once we get everything kind of working, we're planning on drafting up a master plan for the entire property," Seegers said. "And at that point in time, once we get feedback and spend more time out there, we'll decide what needs to be built. We don't want to bite off too much at the very beginning."
He said he and his wife hope more outdoor enthusiasts will visit in the near future.
"Hillside is right at the base of the San Isabel National Forest, the bike trails are right there, there's all kinds of water and areas to mountain bike," Seegers said. "We're 10 or so miles from the Arkansas River. Texas Creek is right there, so you can fly fish in that area, as well."
The unincorporated town has a population of 91 people, according to bestplaces.net.
"We've had a great response from the residents," Seegers said of the sale. "The people there are excellent people."
Fremont County Commissioner Debbie Bell said she wasn't aware of the changes happening to Hillside.
"At this point, I think all I can say is I'm intrigued," she stated by email. "I would be eager to find out what they're planning to do."
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