The Spider House

History of the Spider House

Spider House

Spider House

 

The tall pines moan their mournful song as they sway to and fro in the winter wind. This was a landscape cold and desolate, lonely and forbidding especially to a young mother far away from the warmth and comfort of family and friends, grieving the passing of her second child…

Nestled on a quiet lane in Old Grand City sits the intricately crafted home of Warren C. and Mary O’Brien Gregg, known today as the Spider House – a testament to the remarkable woodcraftsman and his tortured and tormented wife.

 

Warren was a dreamer and sometime in the 1870’s he left his first wife and young son in Wisconsin and headed for the Colorado Territory seeking his fortune in the mines of Gilpin County. He was here to cast his vote for Colorado Statehood in 1876 and the plan was to return to Wisconsin for his young family and bring them back to Colorado. But his first wife succumbed to fever and Warren was left a widower with a small son to rise. He left the boy, Raymond, with other family members and continued his wandering eventually ending up in his native Indiana where he met 20 year old Mary O’Brien. With Warren holding tight to his never ending dreams of the west they married in 1884.

In 1888 Warren packed his new family into a prairie schooner and headed west. Like so many other pioneer women before her, Mary bore a child along the trail, a second son whose short life would send Mary down a dark and tortured path. The family arrived in Middle Park late in the summer of 1888, built a small homestead on the eastern slope of the Stillwater drainage and the newborn died shortly thereafter. Mary was engulfed in grief and though the years would bring the Gregg’s other children, they too dying, Mary would never quite recover from the loss of her second son. The Gregg’s continued to scratch out a living in this harsh and isolated land, life was difficult and lonely for this sad woman, winters were long and hard and supplies were meager. More children arrived in the family and Warren spent much of his time searching for game and exploring this new country with an eye of the dreamer that he was.

The Gregg’s moved numerous times finally purchasing a plot of land from Old Judge Wescott on the west side of the lake. Warren set about to build his wife an admirable house. Its intricate detail and spider like webs of wooden elements are to this day a testament to Warren Gregg’s woodworking prowess. Despite the warmth and comfort of this new home, the proximity of neighbors, Mary’s despair and depression deepened. She took solace in her friendship with Mary Richards but even this could not ease her pain.

Despair finally got the best of her and on a sunny Sunday in 1904 while oldest son Lloyd was at Judge Wescott’s for dinner and Warren was in his woodshop Mary took a gun to her four remaining children and then turned the weapon on herself. The children died instantly while Mary lingered on for four days. The five victims of this tragedy, 1 girl, 3 boys and Mary herself are buried together in one grave in the Grand Lake Cemetery.

Warren lived on in the Spider House for another 29 years. With the help of his son Lloyd he continued building homes and stone fireplaces in the area for years to come finally succumbing to heart failure in 1933…

Old Grand City has moved to the present site of Grand Lake, Lloyd Gregg moved on to Craig, Colorado, and Mary O’Brien Gregg finally found peace in the quiet grace of the little town cemetery. Almost a century later, as the tall pines still moan their mournful winter song the Spider House sits nestled on that quiet little lane.

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