After growing up in Carbondale, singer-songwriter Andy Hackbarth spent time writing and performing between Nashville and Denver. For the past six years, he’s been gigging on cruise ships, which took him to fifty countries.
While he probably won’t be playing at sea in the near future, he’ll have more time to focus on his new project, the Saguache Hotel, a 110-year-old building which he recently bought and will be renovating over the next two years.
Last summer, Hackbarth had visited Saguache, a San Luis Valley town with a population of 450 people about three hours south of Denver. He had planned to look at a rustic cabin that was for sale, thinking it would be a nice long-term rental investment. But as he wandered the town’s Main Street, he saw that the hotel, which had been vacant for three decades, was for sale.
“I just knew I was getting it,” Hackbarth says. “I loved it. It was just such a cool building, and it had such presence and character. It was just like this ghost sitting there, just waiting for somebody. I definitely hadn’t even ever thought about anything like this. And when I first saw the building, I didn’t think there was any way that I could make it happen.”
Instead of getting the cabin, Hackbarth bought the hotel last November, funding the project with his life savings, loans, and grants from History Colorado and the State Historical Fund. He’s also started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for renovation costs. Over the next two years, Hackbarth will completely overhaul the building. With his father Charlie Hackbarth, he will pretty much do everything himself besides electrical, heating and plumbing.
There will be live music, a coffee shop and a cocktail lounge on the hotel’s main floor. Hackbarth also plans to host concerts on the nearby outdoor lot.
“My primary focus and part of why I see so much potential in this building is because it’s just absolutely set up for live music,” Hackbarth says. “I’m doing a lobby coffee shop here, and I’d love to have just a little corner stage there to have some singer-songwriters or classical guitarists.”
Hackbarth, who attended the Aspen Music School before graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in classical guitar performance, says the bar will also have a stage for indoor concerts and piano-bar music — the kind he played on cruise ships.
For the outdoor concerts, Hackbarth says he’ll turn the adjacent lot into a beer-garden-style venue with a big stage, some gas fireplaces and little shelters people can sit under. He’d like to eventually hold an annual festival highlighting regional acts.
“There’s so much great music in the state and in the surrounding area,” Hackbarth says. “We’ll start with that and just try to be consistent, try to have music going often enough that people get used to looking to the hotel as their source in the Valley for live music. And then anybody who wants to