In the 1940’s, the Lee Jones family built the log home that now houses the Woody Creek Community Center; next door to it they owned the old Woody Creek Store, post office, and gas station. The store sold groceries and hardware, supplies, chicken feed and bailing wire, soda and beer, ice cream, cigarettes, and other necessities one would need in a remote, ranching area.
Most importantly the store provided the critical link between the neighbors: the gathering place where one could find out if there was a storm coming, a break in the ditch, a lost steer, a baby born, or a friend in need.
When the Jones family closed the store and moved away, Woody Creek locals, George and Patti Stranahan, bought the old store and founded the now-famous Woody Creek Tavern. Their hope was to create a welcoming place where neighbors could continue to connect with each other, share good, homemade food and great spirits. Over time, the Tavern’s popularity made it a must-visit destination for anyone coming to the Aspen area.
After years of operating the Tavern, the Stranahans sold it to new operators, and opened the Jones house as the new ‘Woody Creek Store,’ offering groceries, gifts, books, and supplies, and establishing again a place where locals could find each other and stay connected to their unique community.
Lifetime philanthropists, and founders of several of the valley’s important institutions (among them the Aspen Community School and the Aspen Physics Institute), the Stranahans came to believe that the Woody Creek Store should move beyond being a store, and expand its potential as a center for the development of a stronger, valley-wide community.
To that end, George and Patti invited the community to match their donations of the building with the extensive funds necessary to restore it structurally. The “Founders,” a group of six Woody Creek families, first stepped up to the challenge with the significant funds needed to begin the process. The Community Office of Resource Efficiency (CORE) followed with an $80,000 grant for a Green Upgrade, including all new windows and doors, radiant floor heat, insulation and efficient boiler, plus the required engineering.
Fundraising events and membership drives followed, and numerous other donations were made to the construction effort. These included in-kind donations to the project, volunteers who sanded and painted and swept, and who made the dream of a community center a reality.