Rising Star Realtors Honors Park City’s Mining Past

The Spiro Tunnel Mining Complex was built between 1916 and the 1920s during Park City’s mining heyday. An excellent example of engineering and construction technologies of its time, it still operates today as a source of Park City’s culinary water.

It also represents the fortunes of competing mining claims, a heartbreaking rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Solon Spiro and his struggles against the Silver King Coalition Mines Company. Spiro, a German immigrant, saved his meager wages from working in his uncle’s general store to buy mine shares. He eventually bought claims bordering the large Silver King Mine and began mining for himself. Spiro tunneled five miles into the mountain, but his workings produced little ore and his funds dried up. After sacrificing his claim to the behemoth Silver King Coalition at a bargain price, Silver King tunneled just 40 feet more and struck a giant body of ore that Spiro had predicted all along.

The original Ivers Tunnel connected to the Spiro Tunnel and led to a machine shop. It was used to park carts, shuttle carts or engines needing repair. The mine closed in 1953, but was resurrected in the mid 1960s as the world’s first and only underground ski lift to transport skiers to the top of Park City Mountain.

Rory Murphy and Paladin Development initially turned the derelict buildings, tunnel portals and enormous pile of rock into an award-winning renovation—the old machine shop is now the home of the Sundance Institute. Another building is a Sundance ticket office in the winter and home to an Artist-in-Residence program in summer.

The Ivers Tunnel parcel, named after local miner Jim Ivers, was later sold to Alan Long of Rising Star Realtors. Alan worked with Fink Architecture, Russel & Co Builders and designer Jacalyn Roundy to integrate the tunnel, in all its dirt and glory, into the design of his office space.

Working closely with the Historical Society, the project took two years from concept to finish. “We wanted to honor the past while acknowledging the future,” says Roundy. To do that, they spent hours in the mine tunnel and studied other mine structures for inspiration. Artifacts, machinery bits and reclaimed wood were collected, restored and incorporated into the headers, front façade and ceiling. An old gas pipe was fashioned into a chandelier, and original nails from railroad ties transformed into drawer pulls. “Our biggest challenge,” says Roundy, “were window placements. We had to consider the vertical posts and siding, and we finally adopted a carefully thought out asymmetry, to coincide with the original structure.”

Custom furniture pieces created by Parker Cook Designs come apart and stack flat, adding to the flexibility of this multi-functional space. A viewing window into the lit Ivers Tunnel o ers visitors a glimpse into the past, a testament to Alan Long’s desire to honor Park City’s mining history.