A butterfly flapped its wings in Aspen and then...
AVH has a rich and colorful history that fuels its future. The hospital was born during the booming days of silver mining amongst an overwhelming number of dangerous occupations and little medical help. Aspen desperately needed a fully-supported county hospital to serve residents in a livelihood that was the heart and soul of the economy — mining.
So in fall of 1889, the “Citizens’ Hospital Committee of Pitkin County” was formed, forging the way towards a better and more stable life for the people of Aspen. There was enormous and inspiring support for the building of the hospital. When the fundraising team was just-this-close to meeting their goal, residents stepped forward with support and made it all possible.
By fall of 1891, it was finished. Aspen’s first hospital stood strongly and powerfully in the valley against the mountains. This hospital served proudly for 2 years, then disaster hit. Careful planning and thrifty management could not prepare the Citizen’s Hospital for the nearly crippling blow that was the repeal of the Sherman Act, demonetizing silver on November 4, 1893. By the end of that year, eighty percent of Aspen’s enterprises went bankrupt, and thousands were left destitute. The hospital struggled to remain open.
By 1921 the hospital was completely upside-down in it finances, but due to the hard work and resolve to save the hospital for the people who needed it, strength was found. In the late 1930s, a shift happened when a few hearty mountaineers discovered a new wondrous potential for the mountains...skiing. Then industrialist, Walter Paepcke, made his first visit and fell in love. Enchanted with Aspen, he immediately bought property and set about creating a cultural enclave in this beautiful city. The population increased, and more people meant more patients for the hospital.
In 1957 it became clear that the Hospital needed to be revitalized to meet the rising demand. With a new life, came a new name – Aspen Valley Hospital. In 1973, the ever-increasing population and need for exceptional medical care brought about a decision to move the hospital to a new site. Land was acquired and the hospital district was formed. In 1977, the current Aspen Valley Hospital was built. Today the hospital is still growing, as it ever has, with new master construction plans to continue to bring the best of health care to Aspen. Today AVH is considered one of the best and most sophisticated small hospitals in the country.