Preserving the Past, Forging The Future

On a Firm Foundation


Robin Theobald is a fifth-generation Breckenridge resident, who proudly reports that his young grandchildren are representing the seventh generation. He’s restored 16 historic buildings and helped guide the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance. He’s contributed to a business incubator plan to support entrepreneurs. And with Patty, his wife of 37 years, he founded an annual award to honor outstanding contribution to the historic preservation of the town.

His story begins in his childhood home, in what is now one of nine Breckenridge Heritage Alliance museums. “This home was built by Barney Ford, a prominent escaped slave,” he said. In the 1880s, Ford raised his family in this home, ran a restaurant and some mines. He was also a vital voice in state civil rights negotiations.

“My parents bought this back in the ‘40s, and I lived here when I was a little boy,” Robin said. Consider that in 1951, when he was born, Breckenridge wasn’t yet a ski town. “I learned to ski over at Cooper Hill at Leadville.”

These fascinating facts and stories of the past are what Robin seeks to immortalize, along with the visual interest of the Victorian-era structures that date back to gold mining days. “I have always believed in historic preservation,” he said. “There’s something in just furthering things. I see it as a continuum.”

That continuum includes his son Rob, a civil engineer, who also contributes to the family business. “We’re really fortunate,” Robin said. “He does a lot of soils tests and retaining wall design, foundation design and things like that.”

I have always believed in historic preservation, there’s something in just furthering things. I see it as a continuum.

- Robin Theobald, fifth generation Breckenridge resident

Of his restoration work, he has a couple favorites. One is the Breckenridge Sawmill Museum, completely reconstructed with all the original equipment and open year-round. “You can’t have a community without a sawmill,” he said. “You couldn’t have a saloon or a gambling house or a hotel. There were a lot of sawmills around here because it took a lot of lumber.”

“One of our tenants is YoYo Loco,” he said. “He has a great shop. The kids love it and drag their parents in. He can be successful with a small amount of square footage.”

With the change from mining town to ski town, Robin is also observing Breckenridge grow from a seasonal to a year-round destination.

“Breckenridge is just the place I want to be,” he said. “It gets better all the time.”