Our History

Excerpt from The Story of Snowmass, by Paul Andersen

The Little Red School House:

A RURAL COMMUNITY LANDMARK

When the Brush Creek Valley was still a rural backwater, when ranching was the economic base and homesteaders from the late 19th century were feeding the silver miners of Aspen from their fields, herds, and flocks, rural schools were the focal point of community and education. The Little Red Schoolhouse of Snowmass Village is a reminder of those times.

Built in 1894, the one-room school welcomed children from the Brush Creek community who took lessons from the resident school marm, who was often in charge of children ranging from early grade school up to the 9th grade. The Schoolhouse also served as a community center, a meeting place, and a venue for local dances when ranchers would come from around the Roaring Fork Valley to meet, greet and court.

During those early years, the Schoolhouse was heated by a coal- or wood-burning stove that was started first thing in the morning on cold winter days when temperatures often dropped below zero. There was no running water, so an outhouse served as the privy for students and teacher alike. Children either walked to school, often a long trudge through the snow, or were delivered on horseback, in wagons, or on sleighs – all drawn by teams of horses. They each carried their lunch pails as food was not served at the school.

The history of the Schoolhouse is most noted for one of the most beloved daughters of Brush Creek: Hildur Hoaglund Anderson. Hildur, born in Aspen in 1907, attended school at the Schoolhouse after he parents moved to Brush Creek in the early 1900s. Hildur’s sister Rose became a teacher there. Hildur, who earned her teaching certificate at what is today Western State College in Gunnison, later taught at the school and was a favored teacher among the many classes and ages she taught.

The Schoolhouse was later abandoned by the school district as children from Brush Creek, and later from Snowmass Village, were bussed to Aspen to attend the more modern schools there. The Schoolhouse fell into disrepair, and it was only through a combined community effort in 1979 that a fund-raiser was held to replace the roof, repair the siding, and install new insulation. Hildur Anderson, then 70 years old, performed on her accordion, her personal hallmark, during the benefit.

In those days the Schoolhouse was being used for pre-school, as a meeting place for the Aspen-Snowmass Lions Club and various other civic organizations, and as a classroom for Colorado Mountain College.

Today, the Little Red Schoolhouse is a day care center utilizing an expansion of the original schoolhouse. For those who know the local history, however, it will always be Hildur Anderson’s Little Red Schoolhouse, a reminder of the age of ranching and a long gone vestige of the Brush Creek Valley.