The Mountain Chalet in 1954
Ralph Melville, the founder, builder and operator of the Mountain Chalet, first came to Aspen in 1951. He found the town overbuilt from the 1950 FIS races. He returned in 1953 and broke his ankle skiing. He considers this his lucky break because he found himself stuck here with nothing to do but wander around and look at real estate. With real estate agent Jim Moore, Ralph looked at the lot where the St. Regis now sits. It was seven lots and was initially offered at $4000, which was too much. They came back asking $4500 and Ralph felt that was really overpriced. As an alternative, Mrs. Salisbury owned two lots (1200 square feet) on the corner of Mill and Durant. Ralph bought this property for $2000 in February 1953.
He began building in August 1954 and was ready to open at Christmas time with three usable rooms: 2 bunk rooms (each with 4 beds) and one room with two twin beds. Over the winter he finished six more rooms. By 1957 he was ready to expand, so he bought Billy Zaugg’s two lots from Mrs. Towne, and bought Mrs. Swearringen’s lot after she died in 1963 or 1964. » read more