After two back-to-back fires did their best to destroy Cripple Creek in 1896, the gold camp city began a building frenzy that can still be seen today in the brick buildings that line the Creek's Bennett Avenue.
One of the largest of these brick buildings is the Cripple Creek Mining Exchange building. Between 1896 and 1909, nearly every stock traded in the mining district was exchanged in this imposing building.
The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks #316 met in the city's Masonic Temple in 1895 when it was chartered but after the fires members met in the building that is now the Colorado Grande Casino. When the opportunity came to buy the exchange building the Elks jumped at it. In April 1910, the Elks paid $12,500 to Larry Maroney, the building's first and only other owner. A program of expansion and remodeling began with the aim of moving into the building in December 1910, a date that was postponed by a smallpox epidemic.
The Elks have taken good care of the building for the past 103 years, allowing Missy Trenary and Cookie Ringo to get it on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Just before Trenary and Ringo unveiled the commemorative plaque on Feb. 9 at the building's front door, current Exalted Ruler Bill Stankiewicz said the building wasn't restored, it was preserved.
“I'm thankful that the 114 Exalted Rulers before me had the foresight to buy and preserve this wonderful old building,” he said.
Getting a spot on the National Registry means there will be more state and federal grant money available to continue preservation efforts, Stankoewicz said. The unveiling was followed by a buffet and Champagne. Many of the attendees were dressed in Victorian style and most took part in several tours of the building led by Trenary.