The Barney Ford House Museum honors the runaway slave who moved to Breckenridge to run a restaurant and a boarding house after his business success in Denver earned him the nickname “Black Baron of Colorado.”
Ford, who was born in Virginia in 1822, escaped from slavery and made his way to Chicago on the Underground Railroad. He learned the barber’s trade in Chicago, launched a successful business career in Nicaragua and then decided to head to the West in 1860.
His first visit to Breckenridge in 1862 ended when he lost his mining claim in French Gulch because of a crooked lawyer. But he built successful barbershop, hotel and restaurant businesses in Denver and then returned to Breckenridge in 1879 and opened Ford’s Restaurant and Chop House, a boarding house and a barbershop.
The museum is in the home where Ford lived with his wife, Julia, and their three children. He eventually left Breckenridge for Denver and went on to become the first black to be nominated for the Colorado Legislature and a noted civil rights leader. Today, his stained glass portrait looks down on the House chambers in the State Capitol.
The museum has been restored in the Victorian style with period furnishings, with each room telling part of Ford’s life story, though with very few Ford artifacts.
Barney Ford House Museum
111 E. Washington Ave.
Breckenridge, CO 80424