by Cathy Mahrholz:
Sign wars continue to invade Cripple Creek with the latest controversy dealing with a mystery that has angered long-time lodging owners and local residents.
It involves several reported theft and vandalism incidents at The Cherub House Bed & Breakfast located at 415 Main Street and established in 1995. A local award has been set up, in an effort to help solve this unusual case and catch the thieves.
Business owners John and Eyvonne Harding have refurbished a house built in 1892 and it is resplendent with opulent Victorian décor and period furniture. Over the last two decades, out-of-town guests have struggled to find The Cherub House because with an address on Main Street, people search in vain along Bennett Avenue for their overnight accommodations. In most small historic towns, Main Street is the primary road through town. But that isn’t the case in Cripple Creek.
“People get confused,” admitted business owner Eyvonne Harding, who often plays Pearl de Vere at the Homestead Parlour House and at other venues. “I have had so many people wonder where we are located. They get quite upset at night.”
After a lengthy process, the Hardings finally obtained permission from the city of Cripple Creek to install visible off-premise, directional signs that would guide visitors to The Cherub House Bed & Breakfast from Bennett Avenue and Hwy. 67. “It took me 18 years to get this sign,” said Harding, who cited extensive struggles with a previous historic preservation and development director. “I had to go through every hoop you could think of.”
The business owners finally got a variance for their off-premise, directional sign, which allowed them to direct customers to their property from both directions of Hwy. 67/Bennett Avenue.
In August of 2013, cement footings were poured, sturdy metal posts installed and a brand new expensive modern aluminum sign was installed on city property at the corner of Bennett Avenue and Carr Street near the train depot. The sign can best be described as a blue sign; the kind that one sees along major thoroughfares all over the United States.
The 48 inch long sign merely stated “Cherub House Bed & Breakfast” with an arrow indicating the direction to drive to get to the Harding’s establishment.
The sign stood on the corner throughout the remaining months of 2013 until the spring of 2014. A few days before Easter, a person or persons unknown, removed the sign and stole it. Tools, and perhaps a ladder were used to accomplish the removal of this fairly large sign. Police, city officials and others were contacted. It remains a mystery as to who stole the sign or what became of it.
A replacement sign was manufactured and was installed on Friday, June 20. It was mounted in the same location, using the metal posts already in place.
In the late afternoon of Monday, June 23, the sign was still in place. But on Tuesday, June 24, the Hardings discovered that the sign had been stolen again. This time a grinder had been used to cut through the metal posts. Again the sign has disappeared, and with it most of the metal posts. To replace it again will require digging up the cement footings and installing new posts.
“Everyone is asking me ‘if I have any enemies.’ But I honestly don’t have any. It just doesn’t make any sense. Who would do this?” said Eyvonne Harding.
What really irks Harding is that the couple followed all proper procedures to get permission to install an off-premise sign they deem to be crucial to the continued success of The Cherub House Bed & Breakfast.
They have also spent more than $1,000 for both signs and the installation associated with the work. And two local business people, who have manufactured the signs for the bed and breakfast owners, have also incurred expenses for materials and the time and effort involved in the making of the signs. “They have really helped us out when they could be doing other jobs,” said Harding, in describing the work of the owners of Built, LLC.
“We are all struggling this summer,” related Harding.
After the first theft, suspicions arose that it was an “opportunistic case of vandalism.” With the second theft, questions have been raised regarding the motivation.
A reward is now being offered for either the return of the signs or for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the thief or thieves. Someone may have seen something and perhaps not even realized at the time that a crime was occurring. If you have any information, please contact the Cripple Creek Police Department at 719-689-2655.