Housed in the fine log structure which was once a Fairplay pioneer home is the Sumner Collection. The exhibit consists of early Indian artifacts, mining, trapping, and Victorian curiosities of the early west. It is a fantastic display with each article named and described. One can spend hours in this one building and ponder over the mementos of the early explorers, miners and pioneers of our country.
The collection was donated and made possible by the efforts of Myrtle and Lawson D. Sumner and Carl Gilley of Lake George, Colorado in 1976. How these hundreds of articles were collected is a fascinating story. An article in the Park County Republican and Fairplay Flume of September 10, 1976 tells the story.
Lawson Sumner’s grandparents came to Colorado in 1871 to homestead a ranch east of Colorado Springs. Lawson grew up in a house next door and spent hours playing in his grandparent’s home. When his grandparents died in the early 1900’s, and their estate was settled, so little was offered for their household items that Lawson decided to buy the familiar old things himself. From this purchase grew a lifelong interest in antiques. One by one, items were added to the collection. His brother-in-law, Carl Gilley, donated many of the objects to his collection.
When Myrtle and Lawson opened a store in Lake George, the things they had on display were not only interesting to their customers, but also good for business. A few years after World War II they set up the collection in what had been an old dance hall. The exhibit was open to the public during the Sumner’s many years in business. When they retired the entire collection was donated to the South Park Historical Foundation Inc. Myrtle and Lawson set up the collection in South Park City in much the same way as it was in its original location at Lake George.