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Colorado History

Alice G. Milne House, 102 North Harris Street, Breckenridge
A Summit Historical Society Site
by Susan Donaldson

John and Maggie McNamara built the first two rooms of this house - the back parlor and the kitchen - in 1880. They added the larger front parlor and front bedroom in 1885/86 and moved the outhouse from in front to its present location behind the house. The bedroom off the kitchen and the clapboard on three exterior walls were added around the turn of the century.

The house’s thick log walls are covered with layers of newspaper, canvas, crating material, school papers and flattened cans to ward off the winter cold. This early “wallpaper” is a favorite of visitors, especially the 1880 newspapers from Denver, Leadville and Georgetown that predate Breckenridge’s first newspaper, The Breckenridge Daily Journal, which debuted in August 1880. Underneath the layers of newspapers, mattress ticking and old patterns the walls are chinked with mud, horse hair and sawdust. Now as then boardwalks extend from the doors to the streets. The wood cookstove in the kitchen is original to the home. Ordered through the Montgomery Ward catalog, it was transported to Breckenridge via the narrow-gauge railroad over Boreas Pass. Among the home’s other furnishings are a Murphy bed and old sewing machines.

Alice Milne lived in this house longer than anyone. A religious person with a conservative, no-frills lifestyle, she worked as Breckenridge town clerk for years. Married to a railroad man, she was widowed at an early age. She raised her daughter, Eleanor, in this house. The upright piano in the front parlor, made in 1896, is not original to the home, but one like it might have occupied the same corner and might have been tickled by young Eleanor’s fingers as she diligently practiced her scales. Maybe Eleanor even took piano lessons from her next-door neighbor, Katie Briggle.

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