For years, people looking for things to do in Estes Park could always go to the Church Shops located on West Elkhorn. The shops started out as the Community Church in 1900, but they were converted into a collection of shops, eateries, and galleries in 1982. Since then, they’ve been a popular destination for Estes Park residents and visitors alike. And now, they have a new owner in The Stanley Hotel who plans to renovate the historic landmark over the next few years.
The Church Shops have always been popular, but the historic building where they are found has clearly seen better days. Currently, it requires a new steel structure to be put in place as well as a new roof, new windows, a fire suppression system, and elevators to get up to code and be ADA compliant.
However, this does not mean that the Church Shops will be completely overhauled. They are still an important historic landmark, and the Stanley Hotel is aiming to preserve and restore it to its former glory. Their mission is to preserve the history and heritage of Estes Park, much like what was done last year when the Carriage House was restored at The Stanley.
This is far from the first restoration project that has been undertaken by The Stanley Hotel owner John Cullen. The hotel itself has been under constant renovations since 1995, the year Cullen acquired the property. He has spent nearly $70 million in renovations and restorations during his 27 years as owner. The aforementioned restoration of the Carriage House last year cost $10 million alone, and the cost of getting the Church Shops up to code will likely be just as high.
Although the Church Shops do require a lot of work to get up to code, it has remained open. Browsing the shops, visiting the galleries, and eating at the restaurants at this historic location continues to be one of the most popular things to do in Estes Park. The restoration will likely only serve to make it even more popular with tourists and locals, although it will likely be a few years before the project is complete.
In any case, it’s great to know that the Church Shops aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, even though they’re now under new ownership. It is clear that John Cullen has a great love for Estes Park’s history and heritage, and he will continue to do what he can to restore landmarks such as the Church Shops.
While there will obviously be some changes coming to the Church Shops and the surrounding area, you can still check out this beautiful location in downtown Estes Park on Elkhorn Avenue. It’s still home to some unique shops and restaurants, and it will continue to be as the space is restored.