Background on Dr. James Underhill
Dr. James Underhill came to Idaho Springs in 1897 and was a prominent Colorado surveyor and mining engineer. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in mining engineering, he moved to Idaho Springs where he surveyed many of the city plots and mines in and around the area. He wrote a number of books on surveying and made that a key part of his legacy. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, becoming the first to earn his doctorate in geology in the state of Colorado. He later became a professor at the Colorado School of Mines.
He and his wife, Lucy, constructed 1416 Miner Street as a combination home and office with two front entrances, one for business calls and the other for social visits. Dr. Underhill lived in this building until his death in 1954 at the age of 83. Lucy remained until 1963, when she deeded the building to the Idaho Springs Public Library for use as a museum. It was Lucy’s desire that it never become a tavern. In 1964, it became the property of the Historical Society of Idaho Springs, who are now responsible for managing and preserving its history. Since then, it has been the Underhill Museum, where the history of the town and the family is preserved.