Originally Published August 2, 2010
The Underhill museum is unique in that was only ever the residence of the Underhill family before it became a museum. Built in 1911, in the yards of the former livery stable for the hotel next door, right in the middle of Miner street, Mr.James F. Underhill used the front part of the house for his offices, and the back part was a home for him and his wife. The Underhills never had any children, so in 1964, Mrs. Underhill willed the property to the Idaho Springs library,to be their upon her death, with the codicil it never be turned into a bar.
In 1999 and 2000, the building was renovated thanks to a grant from the Colorado Historic Fund, and opened as a museum, commemorating the life and work of the Underhills. Just this spring, the back garden was transforned into a patio with a fountain by the Idaho Springs garden club. The patio is available to rent for special events and weddings.
James Underhill first came to Idaho Springs in 1896, opening an engineering firm. In 1897, he was comissioned by the state as the U.S. Deputy Mineral Surveyor. He met and married Lucy Stoller in San Fransisco, California abd the couple returned to Idaho Springs.
Lucy purchased the livery yard of the Rose Hotel next door, and they built their home. Thanks to having been a livery yard, Lucy’s gardens were quite splendid, growing delphiniums taller than her.
James went on to get his PhD in geology from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1906, and was a professor at the School of Mines, wrote several books, and served as both Alderman of Idaho Springs, and the Clear Creek County U.S. Food Administrator during World War II.
Lucy was an avid gardener, worked in her husband’s business on Thursdays and Fridays, and was also active in the community. James died in 1954, and Lucy died in 1969.
The Underhill museum is located at 1416 Miner Street, and is open June through September, 9 am to 4pm, free to the public.