LOUISVILLE -- The Hecla Mine Casino may have found a new home.

The Boulder County Housing Authority wants to move the 100-year-old Louisville building and use it as a community center in a planned Lafayette housing development targeted at low-income residents and seniors.

"We're thrilled," said Heather Lewis, a Louisville Historic Preservation Commission member. "We think that it's actually going to happen. It's a perfect use for the building. It will keep it in the community's mind. It won't get stuck on the back of somebody's property."

The Louisville Historic Preservation Commission launched an effort to find someone willing to move and preserve the building last year.

While the company mine houses are scattered around the region, Lewis said, few larger mine buildings have been preserved. The Hecla Mine Casino is considered one of the last surviving major buildings from the northern Colorado mining region.

The new location, a 14-acre plot owned by the Boulder County Housing Authority in the northeast corner of Lafayette, was once the site of the Excelsior coal mine.

"It's a great opportunity," said Scott Simkus, housing developer for the county's department of Housing and Human Services. "We have a lot of optimism that this will happen."

Pending permit approvals by the city, the county hopes to break ground late next year on the 153-unit development, called the Josephine Commons.


Simkus said a timeline for moving the old casino depends on how soon the current owner moves forward with his own development. The casino building now sits on a Louisville property at 1800 Plaza Drive owned by Michael Schonbrun, founder and CEO of Balfour Senior Living.

Schonbrun bought the property with plans to expand his senior living facility. Deciding it wasn't possible to incorporate the old casino, he's been working with the historical commission to find someone willing to move the building instead.

He has agreed to donate the building and also offered to help with moving costs. The moving costs, including pouring a new foundation and dealing with utility lines that would be in the building's path, have been estimated at $250,000 to $300,000.

Louisville's preservation committee members want to see the building receive landmark status at its new location. State historic preservation grants also likely would be available to help with restoration costs.

The two-story gambling hall was built in 1910 and entertained strike-breakers during the labor conflicts that stretched to 1914. The casino was used as a shelter during a shootout between striking miners and mine guards in 1914.

The Hecla Mine was closed in 1920, and the building became a farmhouse. The 3,400-square-foot building has served as a residence ever since.

The building also was moved once before, in 1991, to make way for the King Soopers shopping center at Colo. 42 and South Boulder Road built on the former mine compound site.