The Barney Ford House Museum


The Barney Ford House Museum in Breckenridge, Colorado, has a unique history and tells a true rags to riches story. Self-motivation and business savvy helped Barney Ford transform his life from a runaway slave to one of the wealthiest men in Colorado. The Barney Ford House Museum was his home at one point and still stands as a testament to his inspiring story.

Early Life of Barney Ford

The Barney Ford House Museum honors Barney Launcelot Ford, who was an escaped slave from Virginia who became a prominent businessman and black civil rights leader in Colorado. Ford was born into slavery in 1822, and his mother inspired him to read and pursue education as a lifelong endeavor. Ford was hired out to work on a Mississippi riverboat, which he escaped from in 1848 by walking off at the dock in Illinois. He was assisted by members of the Underground Railroad en route to Chicago, where he became a barber and met his wife, Julia Lyoni.

Middle Life of Barney Ford

After creating a settled life in Chicago, Ford traveled to California in 1851 to prospect for gold. The journey took him and his wife from New York City around Cape Horn, since it was dangerous for a runaway slave to travel on land. During this expedition, they stopped in Nicaragua, and Ford opened the United State Hotel and Restaurant. The business was successful but was destroyed during civil war in Nicaragua. At this point, Ford returned to Chicago and ran a livery stable that doubled as an Underground Railroad station.

Late Life of Barney Ford

Ford ended up on another gold rush run, this time headed to Colorado, but he was not allowed to stake a claim as an African American. So, instead, he opened a barbershop, restaurant, and many hotels in Denver. In the 1870s, Ford was one of the wealthiest men in Colorado. After founding a school for African Americans, he moved to Breckenridge with his wife and built the home that is now the Barney Ford House Museum. Ford died in 1902 in Denver, leaving a powerful legacy.

Hours & Price

December 19, 2016 – April 23, 2017: Tuesday through Sunday; 11am – 3pm

April 24 – June 9, 2017:  Friday through Sunday; 11am – 3pm

The summer schedule has not yet been finalized, but will be posted on the Barney Ford House Museum website. There is no cost to get in the Barney Ford House Museum, though a $5 donation is suggested.

Barney Ford House Museum Decor & Wedding Space

The Barney Ford House Museum has been restored to its original Victorian styling, and each room in the home represents a different part of Ford’s life. There are evergreens and cottonwoods on the lawn, providing shade along with magnificent mountain views. Both house and lawn wedding venue rentals are available, with space for 25 seated inside or 150 seated outside. With spectacular views of the Colorado Rockies and a serene landscaped setting, the Barney Ford House Museum is ideal for an outdoor Colorado wedding.

Book Breck in Breckenridge

There is some rich history in Breckenridge, Colorado, making it a great place to visit and explore. From mining history to mountain lore to inspiring stories of residents such as Barney Ford, Breckenridge is an ideal destination. Rent your Book Breck vacation home today and become a part of the area’s history!

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