Silverton National Historic Landmark
The town of Silverton is a National Historic Landmark, one of only 3,000 in the nation. It is considered one of the most intact historic sites in America. Its main street, Greene Street, was the “merchant” street, the “respectable” street. The stately gold-domed San Juan County Courthouse and lovely rose-colored stone Town Hall anchor the north end of the street as it passes through blocks of brick and stone buildings bedecked with bright colors and gingerbread. There was an invisible line going down the middle of the street—on one side were the churches and the fine hotels, and on the other Blair Street, with its bordellos and saloons. A street over, on the “respectable” side of town, was the Congregational Church, with the Catholic Church on the other end of the block. The Episcopal Church reigned over both from the top of the hill. Back on Greene Street, the ornate Grand Hotel, with its rosewood back bar and silver-dusted mirror, hosted the likes of Lillian Gish and Bat Masterson. Opposite the “Grand” was the no-nonsense Benson Block and adjacent Exchange Livery, which sheltered buggies and wagons downstairs and horses upstairs. By the turn of the century, stores of every description lined the street, and one could buy anything from a fine-feathered lady’s hat to a wooden box of dynamite to use up at the mine. Nowadays, in those same storefronts, novelty shops and restaurants serve the many thousands of tourists who visit every summer, many of whom arrive on The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Time Period Represented