Colorado History

Heritage Square Is Gone for Good, But You Can Grab a Piece of the Past

Even as Colorado boomed in 2015, gaining jobs and developments and over 100,000 new residents, there were losses. Big losses. History became an endangered species this year, as institutions ranging from restaurants like Le Central and Andre’s Confiserie Suisse to stores like the original Wizard’s Chest closed their doors. And in Golden, Heritage Square is about to be wiped off the map.

Originally known as Magic Mountain, the park was conceived by a team of locals who brought in C.V. Wood, a key figure in the creation of Disneyland, and more than a dozen ex-Disney employees, according to the Golden Landmarks Association. Together they built a village in the visual style of the Colorado gold rush a century earlier, drawing from the state’s architectural traditions to design buildings that ranged from a music hall/saloon to a chapel. They also borrowed Disney’s practice of “storybook” architecture, a Hollywood trick that makes structures look larger by skewing their lines.

But their ambitions were apparently too large for their budget. The park closed in 1960, after just three years of on-and-off operation, and was revived eleven years later by a real-estate company that turned it into an entertainment complex. As Heritage Square, it ran under an assortment of owners for decades — but now the current owner, Martin Marietta, has a new use in mind for the area, one that’s not remotely entertaining. "The Amusement Park will be open next spring," pronounces the Heritage Square website, "but the Heritage Square is NOW permanently closed."

The music hall closed years ago, and most of the other attractions, including the chapel, shuttered this fall; a few — MIner's Maze and Spider Mansion — will reopen in a new location next spring. Want to own a piece of the past? According to the City of Golden, the management is allowing interested parties to remove the not-quite-historic storefronts — at an estimated cost of $50,000 per building; the buyer will also have to pay for permitting and cover other costs — as well as find a place for the building, of course. Interested parties should e-mail [email protected] — and quickly, because the deals need to be in place by the end of January.                                                      
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun