Morgue and Carpenter Shop

The morgue, carpenter shop and coffin maker building was built in the 1880’s for the same purpose. Its original site was on the corner of 5th Street behind the old location of the Bank of Fairplay. It was relocated to South Park City in the 1950’s. This building represents an original undertaking establishment of the Gold Rush Days. The carpenter’s shop was essential to the undertaking business, as most coffins were made of wood. Often the caskets were custom-made to fit the deceased. Mr. Humphery, a Buena Vista mortician, donated old cooling boards and an exquisite tin-bottomed casket that is lined with silk. The casket holds a container for ice, used to help preserve the body.

In a room to the right of the entrance are two cooling tables, also with ice containers. The body of the deceased was placed on the table above the ice to help delay decomposition while the undertaker prepared the body for viewing or burial. Holes drilled in the ice container drained the melted ice away. A wooden “shoe box” coffin, lid and body basket are displayed on stands. A collection of the hardware used on caskets along with adornments and mourning stationery can be seen. A unique salesman’s kit for selling tombstones rests on a table.

In the front room are the woodworking tools of the pioneer carpenter. nat the town of Gaio. Some of the tools were brought across the plains from Saint Louis, Missouri by Olney B. Borden in 1865. He took up a homestead eleven miles southeast of Jefferson, Colorado in Bordenville. Mr. Borden passed away in 1900. Many of the tools are very rare and a collection such as this would be difficult to find elsewhere. All sizes of wood planes, saws, cramps and other woodworking items can be seen. Here is a rare foot driven jigsaw. An old woodworking lathe made of wood waits for one’s inspection. Many of these tools were used by Harvey Wright in 1874 to construct the Court House and the Sheldon Jackson Memorial Chapel in Fairplay.