Bent County High School

Year Listed: 2004
County: Bent County
Construction Date: 1913
Threat When Listed: Demolition
Status: IN PROGRESS
 
 

One of the threats facing many historic schools is the tendency for communities to build new public school campuses far from the center of town, typically in outer-ring suburbs.  Older neighborhood schools are abandoned, often without a new use in sight.  The challenge facing many historic schools is finding a new compatible use.  This is the threat facing the historic Bent County High School.  Constructed in 1913, the school was attended by U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson (an expert on Soviet affairs who served under President John F. Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis); actor Ken Curtis (“Festus” of the long-running television series Gunsmoke); and author James Michener’s wife, Mari (Sabusawa) Michener. In addition to its association with significant persons, the school is known for its imposing, three-story, massive-columned architecture. The  school was designed by Swedish architect James Larson in the Neoclassical style with construction completed by Nels T. Nelson and was listed in the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 2010.

The school has been vacant since 2005, and this architecturally and historically significant building is deteriorating.  Interior chalkboards and doors have been scavenged, but the beautiful stamped tin ceiling remains as testament to time when schools were deemed worthy of thoughtful and beautiful architectural detail.  The structure itself is sound and it is easy to imagine the school being reborn as one of the finest structures in Las Animas.

In 2011, thank to funding from various sources, an adaptive resue study and a historic structure assessment were completed for the building.  Bent County assumed ownership of hte property in 2012 when it purchased the building from the Las Animas School District for $1.00.   In the same year, Brownsfield funding was used for cleanup, including asbestos abatement, removal of pigeons, and boarding up the windows.

CPI and Bent County continue to work to find a viable use for the building so it can once again serve the community.

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Featured Project

4 Bar 4 Ranch

Homesteaded in 1895 by Dick McQueary to provide a stop for the Georgetown Stage Line, the 320-acre 4 Bar 4 Ranch has strong ties to Grand County and Colorado's heritage. The Georgetown Stage Line traveled on the road through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch from Idaho Springs to Hot Sulphur Springs over Berthoud Pass. In 1895 a roadhouse and stage stop were constructed on the ranch. The hotel and barn were constructed using trees from the Ranch property, and the hotel remained open for travelers coming over Berthoud Pass by horseback and wagon until 1913. With the coming of the automobile, the roadway over Berthoud Pass and through the 4 Bar 4 Ranch was considered an integral part of the Trans-Continental “Midland Trail” highway. Following the closing of the stage line, the ranch continued to host travelers until 1912 or 1913 when it was purchased and converted into a Ford Motor Company . Ford vehicles were sold here until 1917, when Harry Larkin purchased the ranch site. Today emergency efforts are underway to ensure it survives through the winter. Donations are in need. To learn more, contact Jennifer Orrigo Charles at jorrigocharlges@coloradopreservation.org.

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