Columbian Elementary School

Year Listed: 2004
County: Las Animas County
Construction Date: 1916
Threat When Listed: Demolition
Status: LOST – 2006

The Columbian Elementary School was constructed in 1916 to replace the first Columbian School constructed in 1887.  The Columbian Elementary School was constructed with an inner grassy courtyard and colonnade of brick arches reminiscent of a time when forts were necessary to protect early pioneers and settlers.  The school is associated with significant individuals including U.S. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson and Ken Curtis, “Festus” of Gunsmoke, both of whom also attended Bent County High School. The school’s inner courtyard is reminiscent of a time when forts were necessary to protect early settlers, a reminder of the significant historic landmarks of the area, namely the Santa Fe Trail, Boggsville, and Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site.

The building was abandoned for the newly completed Las Animas Elementary School and bids began coming in for its demolition.  Supporters hoped to find a re-use for the building, but school officials favored demolition. Despite Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s efforts with the local school board, the Columbian School came down in February of 2006, despite a purchase offer from a Las Animas resident rejected by the school board. Superintendent Scott Cuckow when questioned about the offer stated the school board would “consider, but probably not accept the offer, I highly doubt that they are going to accept the proposal, Columbian is not for sale because we need that property for playground space and for a bus loop for the safety of our kids. We do not need a building that no longer serves its purpose and a building that will be too expensive to maintain.”

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