Vandals covered a historic stone hut near the Mount Sanitas Trail in graffiti just months after the city invested $8,000 into restoring the century-old structure, Boulder officials said.
Julie Johnson, cultural resources programs coordinator for Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, said a ranger stopped by the hut during a patrol Tuesday and found it "plastered" in graffiti.
The hut, likely a former outbuilding connected to the historic Boulder Sanitarium, lies less than half a mile west of the Boulder Community Hospital campus and has stood in some form since before 1900, Johnson said.
It's not clear when the vandalism occurred or how many people were involved. Boulder park rangers had not been performing regular patrols of the area lately because they were busy helping monitor land surrounding last week's Flagstaff Fire.
"The guys have been pretty busy, and things are just getting back to normal now," Johnson said.
In March, the city hired an engineer and a mason to perform maintenance on the hut after officials noticed some pieces becoming loose and falling out of the stone-and-mortar walls. Johnson said the project cost about $8,000 and required the mason and his team to carry up wheelbarrows of material to the remote building location. Stones covered with lichen were specially selected to blend with the hut's aged walls.
"Vandals have painted the roof before. That's not a big problem because we paint over it," Johnson said. "Whoever did this also put a lot (of graffiti) in the interior of the hut and the outside, which breaks my heart ... ."
She said the extensive graffiti is sure to affect the lichen on the stone walls and may change the historic character of the building. She was not sure what it will cost to have the graffiti removed.
Johnson said the ranger who discovered the graffiti reported it to Boulder police, though she isn't holding out much hope that the perpetrator or perpetrators will be caught.
The maximum penalty for a graffiti charge in Boulder Municipal Court is a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, according to Boulder police Sgt. Jim MacPherson.