El Corazon de Trinidad

Year Listed: 2000
County: Las Animas County
Construction Date: 1878
Threat When Listed: Various
Status: SAVED

The architecturally rich El Corazon de Trinidad Distinctive Commercial District, made up of much of the central and southern downtown area of Trinidad, Colorado, has experienced a remarkable level of revitalization and renewed vitality over the past 5-7 years and is now considered a save for CPI’s Endangered Places list. The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and its initial period of development and prosperity from 1880-1920 left the city with a legacy of intact historic buildings, within their historic context, unparalleled in Colorado. The district reflects the extraordinary body of work created by legendary architects like Frank Edbrooke and Isaac Hamilton Rapp, as well as the efforts of ethnically diverse, pioneering retail entrepreneurs and merchants, including the community’s small but influential Jewish community.

The decision to list the El Corazon de Trinidad Distinctive Commercial District on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places list in 2000 reflected the declining fortunes of many of the state’s downtowns at the time, including Downtown Greeley, which was also listed that same year and declared a save in 2012. Since that time, the City of Trinidad, the Trinidad-Las Animas Economic Development Council, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Creative Industries and other groups have worked very hard to revitalize the district and make it the lively and entertaining heart of the community it has become.

An early catalyst for revitalization occurred with the rehabilitation of the Toltec Hotel, listed individually on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 1998 and declared saved in 2006. Trinidad’s participation in the Colorado Main Street Program helped to organize efforts aimed at broader revitalization, while investors including Dana Crawford and Urban Neighborhoods and longtime local stalwart Jay Cimino and the Downtown Trinidad Development Group, took on key projects like the Fox Theater rehabilitation and the Trinidad Champions Building, among others. Cultural entities like the Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre, A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art, and the nearby History Colorado Bloom Mansion and Baca House complex have continued to anchor revitalization efforts. More recently, the Corazon de Trinidad Creative District, designated in 2017, has been a catalyst for building on the arts and creative industries and popular events like Artocade and the Trinidaddio Blues Fest to enliven the downtown area. Several long-term and newly opened restaurants now cater to residents and visitors alike, and the advent of retail marijuana has bolstered local tax revenues to help with infrastructure projects and other improvements. While much work remains to solidify the revitalization effort, it is clear that a new day has dawned in Trinidad and its showpiece El Corazon de Trinidad Distinctive Commercial District can now be considered saved.

Additional Links:
City of Trinidad