Cabins in Aspen, Free for the Taking (Almost)

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It's one thing when the city of Detroit gives away homes for just $1,000 down, but chic Aspen?

Aspen is apparently struggling to get rid of three historic cabins. The catch: The owner must move them.

Estimates are that it will cost about $10,000 to $20,000 to relocate each of the historic cabins that the city of Aspen, Colo., and surrounding Pitkin County are trying to unload. The 1950s city-owned cabin is currently stashed in a city park; it was sold once in auction, but the buyer reneged on taking it when moving it across state lines made the deal more complicated. Sales price: $661.

The city came to own the 600-square-foot cabin (pictured) as part of a redevelopment project. The city thought it might have historic value and hung onto it; it's now on PublicSurplus.com, an eBay-like website for excessive government property.

The ad asks interested buyers what they think it might be worth and the highest bidder gets the cabin. The auction is scheduled to end Wednesday, but so far, no bids have been received, Aspen historic preservation planner Sara Adams told AOL Real Estate.

The other two cabins that the county is trying to unload are on a parcel now owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Aspen paper reports that one of them -- the Sunnegga cabin -- was built by well-known dogsledder Stuart Mace. He and his Toklat huskies were featured in the TV series "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon."

Early on, Mace ran a gift shop and sold his Native American wares and handmade dinosaur bone jewelry from the cabin. He eventually abandoned it, and the cabin was moved to its current site in 1977. The Forest Service considered using the cabin as a warming hut for a cross-country ski trail that runs near the property but abandoned that idea.

The second cabin was built in the late 1940s and, according to historians, was built and used by Henry Fitzpatrick, an eccentric prospector, as a refuge from his wife in Aspen.

How much does it cost to move a cabin? That depends on where it is being moved to.

It's definitely cheaper to just demolish it, said Dale Will, director of Pitkin County's open space department, who put the price tag at $20,000 to move a cabin and just $2,000 to tear down. Enough to make a preservationist weep.

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