Sangree M. Froelicher Hut History - Introduction
The Sangree M. Froelicher hut was built in 1998 and originally called the Belvedere Hut, as a memorial to the 975 men killed in action and 3891 wounded in the Apennine Mountains of Northern Italy in the spring of 1945, during WWII. The Belvedere Hut was privately owned, rented to the public, and booked by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association (10th Mountain Division Huts.)
During the summer of 2002, 10th Mountain Division Huts found it had a real problem on its hands. It's eastern most contract hut, Belvedere, was privately owned and the two Leadville owners had received an unsolicited offer to purchase the hut, think chalet. Unfortunately the would-be buyer was a large commercial snowmobile tour operator located just east of Leadville on Colorado 91. It was his plan to turn the hut and the 40 acres of fee land on which it stands, into his mountain operations center. Cross country skiing, snow shoeing and hiking through quiet forest and alpine meadows would be "out" while hundreds of snowmobiles would be "in".
Fortunately for 10th Mountain Division Huts, the Belvedere owners, who were most supportive of and friendly to 10th Mountain Division Huts, had previously provided a right-of-first-refusal to 10th Mountain Division Huts.
Aware that Denver's F. Charles Froelicher's brother, Staff Sergeant Sangree Mitchell Froelicher, 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 86th Mountain Infantry, had been killed in action in Sassomalare, Italy, on March 4, 1945, 10th Mountain Division Huts invited him - Chuck - to lead an effort to raise the considerable funds necessary to purchase and endow the hut. Chuck graciously accepted the invitation, provided an alternative way to honor and recognize the name Belvedere would be found.
The project had several components, each of which was important to our state and nation:
- The preservation and protection of 15 square miles of prime open space in the Pike/San Isabel National Forest (please see Map of Area).
- The addition, rather than the loss, of one of 13 huts in the astonishingly successful 10th Mountain Division Hut System.
- The honoring of yet another 10th Mountain "Trooper" who was killed in action in Italy in the spring of 1945, this time Sangree M. Froelicher.
On September 12, 2002, Chuck formed a committee to provide support and help. It included members of his family and old friends from Denver, Baltimore, Aspen and Vail. This committee made astonishing progress. Starting with a major grant from Denver's Gates Family Foundation, and donations from other family foundations, veterans, Sangree's family and admirers of the 10th Mountain Division. The necessary funds were raised, and the hut was purchased by 10th Mountain Division Huts in 2003.
All participants and donors to date have wanted to know Sangree "Mitch" Froelicher better. For this reason Chuck Froelicher wrote Profile of a Trooper, which is linked in the menu above. It is a remarkable story about a 21-year old young man from Baltimore who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his "courageous and aggressive leadership" on the day he died.