About OldEstes







About OldEstes

I grew up in Estes Park in the 50’s and 60’s, and attended school there from Kindergarten through High School.  And although I left for 30+ years to seek my fortune in the corporate world, I never forgot Estes Park.  Retired now, I split my time between Estes Park and Southern California.  I love Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park and its history, and have spent the last several years acquiring items that reflect that heritage.

My family has been in The Park since the very early days.  Grandfather Francis Atwell Somerville first came to The Park between 1905 and 1910 where he built a small summer home.  Later Grandmother Alpharetta Lemmon Somervilla bought a parcel of land on the Big Thompson River near town from F.O. Stanley himself where she and “Frank” built their second summer home in 1917.  After her husband died in 1925, she converted “Somervilla” to an early version of a bed and breakfast which she ran for many years.  After her death, the property passed to my Mother Elaine Somerville Tanton who through hard work and sacrifice managed to keep and preserve the property even through hard times.

My pursuit of Estes Park history started when looking out over the valley, I wondered what it looked like before Joel Estes arrived.  I was happy to find that the artists and photographers who were drawn to the area by its beauty, left an excellent record of the pristine beauty of those early days.

I grew up in a time when many of the folks mentioned in these pages were still around.  I knew Lyman Byxbe, Dave Stirling and Alfred Wands, and spent time in their studios enjoying their art.  I watched as Buell Porter added one after another of his special Christmas scenes to the Town’s collection, and talked to him many times.  I heard the near-perfect spiel of Phil Martin as he excited another wide-eyed group of children ready to ride off into his imaginary world on the Silver Streak.  I met Jack Moomaw and heard his wonderful stories first hand.  And I developed a deep lifelong interest in the Park and all that happened there.

 —Dave Tanton (OldEstes)

Some history in photos:


Before Much Else

Somervilla was built in white box in 1917

Enos Mills—The Range from Somervilla

Many of the early photographers found this spot a special one.

FP Clatworthy—The Range from Somervilla

Another view from before the family home was built in 1917.

Clatworthy Photo—Winter in Estes

From his studio...Somervilla in center. A 4 x 6' enlargement of this hung in Alpha Somerville's home for years.

Somervilla—Late Teens


Great car!

Frank Atwell Somerville, and Daughter Elaine—1920

Clatworthy Post Card With Somervilla in Center


Elaine Somerville 1921

Alpha Lemmon Somerville and Daughter Elaine c1932


Note the Rooms & Cottages sign at left

Somervilla—December 1954

A very white Christmas that year.


"Wintervilla" Childhood Home of OldEstes


You can just see Alpha Somerville at the door....

OldEstes Today

From Somervilla deck....