We had the honor of attending the most recent CLG (Certified Local Government) Open House that was hosted by the City of Pueblo. We kicked off the day at the recently renovated Memorial Hall (http://pueblomemorialhall.com/), and it looked fantastic! There are many wonderful architectural details of Memorial Hall, but our favorite was the proscenium, with its beautifully detailed plaster ornament. Here we learned about the history of Pueblo from the City’s Planner, Wade Broadhead, and about some of the preservation efforts that are being made citywide.
Next, we headed to lunch at Angelo’s down at the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk (http://puebloriverwalk.org/#puebloriverwalk). In the 1920s there was a massive flood that diverted the Arkansas River and destroyed much of Pueblo. The Riverwalk returned the river to its historic location in the heart of downtown Pueblo. Here we had a bit of time to explore the Riverwalk and see what Pueblo has done to activate the area that was once seen as unusable and unsightly. Now there are several attractions, restaurants and shops adding not only to the experience of the community members, but to the local economy!
After lunch we made our way to the Eastside Neighborhood (http://coloradopreservation.org/programs/endangered-places/the-historic-eastside-neighborhood/), which the historic core was listed as one of our Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2012. The historic Eastside features a wide range of architectural styles, including a highly unusual proliferation of Princess Ann style cottages with canted entrances, but the one commonality is that many of the historic homes are in poor condition. There are however, efforts being made! We visited the Hudson Veteran Housing, a successful restoration of three houses along East 4th and North Hudson Streets, the Little Red House & Community Garden and the St. Leander Church. The neighborhood is physically separated from the rest of Pueblo by Fountain Creek and has historically been home to a mix of classes and ethnicities. In financial decline since the 1980s, the Eastside neighborhood is now 80% Hispanic and suffers from a lack of public amenities found in wealthier Pueblo neighborhoods.
After seeing the efforts taking place in the Eastside Neighborhood and learning a bit more about the historic in the area, we headed over to the Bessemer Historical Society, or the Steelworks Museum (http://www.steelworks.us/). The Bessemer Historical Society’s focus is on all things Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) related. They have corporate records, films, photographs, artifacts, maps, and drawings just to name a few of the treasures you can find here. CF&I was the first integrated steel mill west of the Mississippi River, beginning production in 1872. At one time CF&I was the largest private landowner and the largest employer in Colorado. CF&I mines and mining towns operated throughout the West, and the firm owned subsidiary companies ranging from the states of Massachusetts to California. CF&I played a pivotal role in the great coal strike of 1913-1914, particularly remembered for the infamous Ludlow Massacre of 1914. The conflict resulted in multiple casualties and deeply divided the nation. It is one of the most notorious incidents in American labor history. The Bessemer Historical Society has a ton of information on their website (http://www.steelworks.us/).
It was a full day, and we ended the tours at the Eiler Heights Neighborhood (http://www.historicpueblo.org/pages/eilers.htm) in the Eiler’s Place bar. The Eiler Heights Neighborhood was originally comprised of Slovenian immigrant families with nine of the original owners still in residence today. Eiler Heights, is located east of I-25 and north of Northern Avenue and was originally called Bojon Town. The name Bojon Town was given to the area primarily because the term, Bojon, was and still is used frequently to describe immigrants from Slovenia. This area is where the Slovenian immigrants settled in Pueblo in the mid 1900s.
Overall, the day was a huge success! We had a great time exploring Pueblo and learning about all of the different themes in its history. We encourage you to visit if you haven’t done so, enjoy the Riverwalk, and indulge in some delicious local cuisine!