Project Update: Historic Bridges of Colorado

Review of Historic Bridges of Colorado Underway

Rabbit Valley, Mesa County, photo courtesy of Kevin Strong, CBS4

Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) statewide nomination of Historic Bridges of Colorado led to Colorado Preservation, Inc. successfully listing this group of bridges on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in early 2021.

WPA bridge sign close-up, photo courtesy of Kevin Strong, CBS4

The Endangered Places designation is the first step in the review process that will culminate in up to 20 high-priority historic bridges selected by CDOT for possible preservation. The 46 “on-system” (CDOT owned and located on State or Federal highway) bridges under review range in construction date from 1888 to 1973, and span the breadth of Colorado’s bridge development, evolving from early timber structures and steel bridges to the use of more standardized designs using pre-stressed concrete. During Phase I of the project, before Colorado’s Most Endangered Places listing, 132 National Register Listed and Eligible bridges were initially reviewed to set the stage for the current Phase II effort.

Steel truss looking up, photo courtesy of Kevin Strong, CBS4

More than 30 CDOT staff is carrying out the review, with Colorado Preservation, Inc. and State Historic Preservation Office assistance, and Mead & Hunt consultants facilitating. The effort involves substantial assessment by both CDOT historians and engineers to ensure that a representative geographical and stylistic subset of bridges for possible preservation is developed, and that CDOT can feasibly rehabilitate the bridges in question. The goal is to heighten awareness about the significance of these historic bridges and their contributions to our state’s heritage, along with developing partnerships with local communities and other organizations for funding and support for bridge preservation.

For information, contact Lisa Schoch at CDOT or Kim Grant at Colorado Preservation, Inc.

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Project Update: Como Depot

Progress Continues with Laying of Track at Como Depot

Laying track at Como Depot, photo courtesy of Como Depot and Roundhouse

The remarkable and steady progress in historic preservation in the tiny town of Como in Park County continues with the recent laying of additional railroad track at Como Depot. Colorado Preservation, Inc. listed the Depot on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2006 and it was dedicated and declared a “save” in 2015.

Colorado pioneer George Lechner acquired Stubbs Ranch, created in 1859 to serve the needs of nearby prospectors in the Tarryall and Hamilton gold camps. Dan McLaughlin later discovered coal near the entrance of Camp Como. These developments helped trigger Denver South Park & Pacific Railroad (DSP&P) arrival in 1879. The influx of Italian coal miners spurred naming the settlement “Como” after Lake Como in Italy. In time, Gilman Hotel was developed and attached to the depot, but the depot later moved a few yards to the south as a stand-alone structure. The town flourished for decades before the closing of rail service in 1937.

Since then, the community restored the remarkable Como Roundhouse, Depot, and Hotel, along with renovating many small houses in the area. Things picked up in August 2021 during railroad days when Denver South Park & Pacific Historical Society fired up Engine #4 and took visitors on a short round-trip run from the depot to the turntable. The new track is an extension of this excursion line. These efforts result from a partnership between David Tompkins (owner of the Depot and Hotel), Dr. Charles Brantigan (who bought the locomotive), Bill and Hazel Kazel, South Park Rail Society, and Denver South Park & Pacific Historical Society. Thanks to many volunteers throughout the summer and fall dedicating time to the restoration efforts at Como Roundhouse and Depot.

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Project Update: Temple Aaron

Turn up the Heat Boiler Campaign Mounted for Temple Aaron

While August 2020 may be historically hot here in Colorado, Temple Aaron – listed as one of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places by Colorado Preservation, Inc. in 2017 – is thinking even warmer thoughts by launching its Turn Up the Heat campaign to replace the ancient boiler that quit several years ago. Thanks to many generous donors, the Temple board of directors made major progress in raising the $60,000 estimated cost of boiler replacement in the unique, historically significant building that overlooks downtown Trinidad. The effort started with a challenge from Denver businessman and philanthropist Larry A. Mizel, who pledged to provide the final 20 percent of the goal needed if the Temple board could procure the other 80 percent. Major gifts from Evan Makovsky and friends who recently visited the Temple, and from Les Limon of Twin Enviro Services of Trinidad helped raise more than 50 percent of the goal needed.

Returning heat to the building is key to ensuring year-round services and programming continue fostering a future for Temple Aaron. An inaugural membership campaign is also underway, with several new members signing up at the Lifetime Membership level of $1,800. Temple Aaron welcomes gifts of any size to continue building strong community support for the future. As board member Sherry Glickman Knecht stressed, “Time is our newest challenge—to warm the heart, soul, and bones of our great Temple for this coming winter, we are seeking to raise the remaining $30,000 within the next 30 days! Let’s not let her get cold again … Let’s Turn Up The Heat!”

Temple Aaron will host an open house for interested members of the public, as part of the Trails to Trinidad event benefitting Fisher’s Peak State Park, and the 1908 Fox West Theatre, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 26. Admission is $10 at the door with bagels and lox, and conversation provided. For information about the Trails to Trinidad event, go to FoxWestTheatre.com. For information about the Temple boiler campaign, membership, or the open house, visit templeaaron.org or email info@templeaaron.org.

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Project Update: Saguache Hotel

Owner Putting Sweat Equity into Saguache Hotel

Saguache Hotel, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Preservation Services Director Jane Daniels visited Saguache Hotel in June 2021 to check in on the progress of the new private owner, Andy Hackbarth, as he works tirelessly with his father and other community members bringing this important downtown landmark back to life. Colorado Preservation, Inc. also partnered with Andy to obtain State Historical Fund grant funds in 2020 to rehabilitate the roof, along with helping guide the project in the process of historic preservation, including tax credits, low-interest loans, Secretary of Interior’s Standards, and other funding opportunities.

Onsite at Saguache Hotel, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Considering what the building looked like when Andy acquired it, the Hotel is in much better condition. He and his dad, Charlie, are putting some serious sweat equity into the building. They hopefully will see their efforts further rewarded as they realize their vision for the building as a music venue, a revived hotel, and an eating establishment that will enliven the social and cultural activity in downtown Saguache.

For more information on this Colorado Preservation, Inc. projects and others, contact Jane Daniels, director of preservation services, at jdaniels@coloradopreservation.org.

Read the March 2021 project update.

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Project Update: Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine and Mill

Impressive Stabilization Progress at 4UR Mill

Onsite at Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine and Mill, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine and Mill, known as the 4UR Mill, received State Historic Fund (SHF) grant funds in spring 2020 to stabilize the most critical and severely deteriorated features of the Mill. Work began on the site in spring 2021. Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Preservation Services Director Jane Daniels visited the Mill, located outside of Creede, Colorado, late June to check out the progress, which was quite impressive. Harrison Western, the general contractor, made significant advancement stabilizing the internal columns and preparing the Mill’s main high roof for enclosure. They will take a brief pause this summer not to disturb operations at the 4UR Resort, and will resume work in October. Thank you to Harrison Western, the 4UR Ranch, Form+Works Design, and the SHF for an outstanding job so far!

For more information on this Colorado Preservation, Inc. project and others, contact Jane Daniels, director of preservation services, at jdaniels@coloraodpreservation.org.

Onsite at Wagon Wheel Gap Fluorspar Mine and Mill, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.
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Project Update July 2021: Dearfield

Dearfield Hosts Legislative Capital Development Committee

On site in Dearfield, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Black American West Museum and Greeley-based Dearfield Committee hosted representatives of the State Legislative Capital Development Committee for a presentation and tour about the Dearfield Dream Project on Wednesday, July 21, at the Dearfield site. Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine helped organize the event, which featured presentations and a tour of Dearfield African American Farming Colony by long-time Dearfield advocates Dr. Bob Brunswig and Dr. George Junne of University of Northern Colorado (UNC). Both Daphne Rice-Allen and Denise Leadon spoke on behalf of Black American West Museum, owners of the Dearfield townsite. Participants enjoyed the event, including other Weld County commissioners, UNC President Andy Feinstein, and representatives of History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI). CBS4 was on hand providing coverage of the event, as can be viewed in its story The Fight to Save a Colorado Ghost Town: Dearfield is Steeped in Black History.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. listed Dearfield on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 1999 and has worked with the many partners since then on preservation of the site.

On site in Dearfield, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

The visit followed an earlier presentation by Bob Brunswig and George Junne to the Capital Development Committee at the Statehouse in late June. The purpose of that presentation and last week’s visit, which included members of the Legislative Black Caucus and featured Sen. James Coleman, was to explore the possibility of a legislative appropriation to support Dearfield preservation efforts. Private sector contributions greatly aided these efforts, including $15,000 from PDC Energy and $7,500 from Occidental Petroleum.

The Dearfield Dream Project is a multi-organizational research and historic sites preservation program. The work builds on earlier steps by Black American West Museum and scholars from the City of Greeley Museums, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, and grant-funded private historical resource consultants, including participation by History Colorado and CPI. The project seeks to preserve the Dearfield townsite as a vital Colorado and national historical resource, increasing recognition of Dearfield’s contribution to African American settlement and economic self-sufficiency, civil rights, and social justice efforts. Dearfield was an unincorporated town in Weld County, Colorado, from 1910 through the late 1930s, founded in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an African American businessman and entrepreneur who purchased and homesteaded land used for the establishment of the townsite.

July 28, 2021 update
Excellent news. National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program awarded University of Northern Colorado’s Dr. Brunswig and Dr. Junne a grant of nearly $500,000 for the next phase of preservation efforts for Dearfield buildings. Congratulations!

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Apple Trees for Golden History Museum

MORP Donates Heirloom Orchard Trees to Golden History Museum

Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project’s warehouse of trees ready for Golden History Museum and Park

Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP), which grew from the fruits of efforts to save the historic Gold Medal Orchard (listed on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2015 and declared a “Save” in 2021) recently donated apple trees that were historically grown in the Golden area to Golden History Museum and Park. The trees will plant in the fall, adding to and making up Golden Heritage Apple Orchard at Golden History Park. As noted by MORP co-director Addie Schuenemeyer, “We selected varieties that were historically grown in Golden. MORP is able to donate heritage apple trees to community spaces that can care for them thanks to support from the USDA, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado Garden Foundation and others.” The museum plans to add tree signage acknowledging the work of MORP to preserve Colorado’s fruit growing heritage. Former Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI) employee Cindy Nasky and her husband Mark helped Golden History Museum Director Nathan Richie and Board President Michael Wood make the connection to MORP and CPI and to spread the word about the project.

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Dearfield Conference

Save the Date! 7th Dearfield Conference Program on May 22

Since 2008, several partners – Dearfield Heritage Preservation Committee, Black American West Museum & Heritage Center, University of Northern Colorado (UNC), Colorado State University (CSU), Colorado Preservation, Inc., City of Greeley and Weld County Youth Conservation Corps – collaborated in a wide range of archaeological and historic research programs and historic building preservation efforts involving the early 20th century African-American farming colony of Dearfield, along with the two historic town-sites of Dearfield and Chapelton, in eastern Weld County, Colorado. Colorado Preservation, Inc. recognized Dearfield Colony on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 1999.

The seventh Dearfield Conference hosted by UNC takes place Saturday, May 22, 2021, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The conference features presentations and open discussion forums on recent Dearfield preservation and research programs, including archaeological fieldwork in June 2020, university and community engagement activities for students, professional scholarly research and collaboration, along with planning efforts related to the Dearfield Strategic Plan 2021.

Following Covid-19 precautions, this year’s conference will be a hybrid affair, with a small core participant group attending the physical meeting at UNC’s Michener Library, along with an online participant venue. A showing of filmmaker Charles Nuckholl’s Remnants of a Dream: Dearfield and the Story of its Founder O.T. Jackson will occur both before and after the conference via an online link. For more information about the conference, contact Dr. Bob Brunswig at robert.brunswig@unco.edu or Dr. George Junne at Ghjunne@aol.com.

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Project Update: Saguache Hotel

New Owner Brings New Life to the Historic Saguache Hotel

Colorado Preservation, Inc. recently received a State Historical Fund (SHF) grant to restore the roof, fascia and soffits of the historic Saguache Hotel in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. This is in partnership with the building’s new energetic owner, Andy Hackbarth, who has a grand vision for the property.

The project began in earnest in early September 2020. Scheuber + Darden Architects led the team along with Deep Roots Timberworks and local area roofer, Conklin Roofing/Millers Quality Coating. After planning and numerous reviews with SHF, the subcontractors worked diligently on the project mid-October through November. They completed the work in the nick of time before snow fell. With the Hotel’s roof project not yet entirely complete, they will install gutters and downspouts and paint in early spring 2021.

Built in 1910, Saguache Hotel was reported to be “one of the finest in the entire (San Luis) valley.” Constructed across from the Courthouse in downtown Saguache, the stately building anchors the southern edge of the 4th street commercial area and contributes to Saguache Downtown National Historic District. By the late 1990s, the Town and subsequently the Hotel experienced economic hardships due much in part to the realignment of U.S. Highway 285 which bypasses the downtown. Colorado Preservation, Inc., recognizing the 4th Street Commercial District on its Colorado’s Most Endangered Places, continues preservation planning with Saguache community members since that 2009 designation. Colorado Preservation, Inc. is optimistic that its work with Saguache Hotel will continue spurring revitalization and preservation efforts in the area.

Owner Andy Hackbarth can now proceed with sustainable rehabilitation plans, reimagining indoor and outdoor spaces, which include restoring the Hotel’s rooms and lobby with a larger vision to be an attractive music and entertainment venue for the area (Andy is an accomplished musician himself!). The commitment, hard work, and preservation-minded spirit of Andy is impressive. Take a look at and support his progress on Andy’s GoFundMe page – this project is sure to invoke a positive and lively atmosphere to Saguache during the coming years. Also, check out Saguache Hotel’s website and The Crestone Eagle’s recent article about the project.

For more information on this project and others that Colorado Preservation, Inc. is engaged in, contact Preservation Services Director Jane Daniels, at jdaniels@coloraodpreservation.org.

Read the Aug. 2021 project update.

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2021: Colorado’s Most Endangered Places

Colorado’s Most Endangered Places Announced today by Colorado Preservation, Inc.

            Denver (February 11, 2021)—Colorado’s Most Endangered Places List was announced today by CBS4 Meteorologist Dave Aguilera at Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Saving Places 2021 virtual Preservation in Action conference.  Three new sites were added to the list as noted below.

            Since 1998, Colorado Preservation, Inc. has been working with communities throughout the state to save threatened or endangered historic buildings, landscapes, and archaeological sites through its Endangered Places Program.  Three new diverse sites were added to the 2021 list today, while two previously listed sites were recognized as SAVED. 

            2021 marks the 24th anniversary of Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Most Endangered Places list.  The program provides advocacy, awareness, and technical assistance to significant historic sites throughout Colorado that are in danger of being lost.  Colorado Preservation, Inc. devotes staff time and resources to build partnerships, raise funds, and rally concerned citizens so that listed sites can be saved.  In 24 years, the Colorado’s Most Endangered Places program has highlighted 130 historic sites throughout the state; 52 sites have been SAVED and only seven have been lost, with 47 actively in progress and 24 still under alert status.  The program has a wide reach throughout rural and urban areas of the state and has helped local communities save a wide array of historic resources, from agricultural and archaeological resources to commercial districts, downtown properties, cultural landscapes, ditches, kilns, barns, flumes, mining structures, schools, churches, government buildings, and railroad resources. 

Three historic sites were selected for the 2021 list of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places:

  1. Historic Bridges of Colorado                                      (Statewide)

As a state with many distinguishing geophysical characteristics, including mountains and plains and rivers and streams, Colorado has by necessity many historic bridges that reflect its diverse regions and cultural heritage.  But until recently, there has never been a strong bridge preservation ethic in the state.  CPI, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), has embarked on a partnership to identify forty-six (46) on-system bridges representing different types, eras, and locations, for preservation in place of at least 20 priority structures.  The bridges under consideration range in age from 1888 to 1973 and span the full breadth of Colorado’s bridge development, which evolved from early timber structures and steel bridges to the use of more functional and standardized designs using pre-stressed concrete in the post-World War II era.  Listing these bridges will assist CPI and CDOT in developing partnerships with local communities and other organizations for funding and support for bridge preservation efforts.

  • Lafayette Head Home & Ute Indian Agency             (Conejos County)

For a relatively brief, but formative period in Colorado, the Lafayette Head Home & Ute Indian Agency in Conejos was the center of the universe for a diverse convergence of cultures and forces that changed the state’s history.  The Lafayette Head Home & Ute Indian Agency was built by early settler, businessman, and public official Lafayette Head in 1855, and played an important, but little-known role in the settlement of Colorado in the period before and after statehood.  Head used his home and compound as the agency headquarters while working with the Ute and Jicarilla Apache tribes for nine years during a time of uneasy co-existence, conflict, settlement, and displacement.  Head and was instrumental in treaty negotiations with the Ute tribes in Washington, D.C. that led to the relinquishment of San Luis Valley lands to the United States and the establishment of the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute reservations in far southwest Colorado.  The Head House itself is representative of Indo-Hispano, Native American, Territorial, and early Colorado architecture.  Head was elected to the Colorado State Legislature and was one of 39 delegates who drafted the 1875 State Constitution.  He was also elected the first Colorado Lieutenant Governor under Governor John Routt.  CPI will work with local, state and educational and tribal partners to preserve and interpret the Head Home and site so future generations can be understand the role the region played in the state’ history.

  • Winter Park Balcony House                                       (Grand County)

Winter Park’s original base area ski lodge, known as the Balcony House, vividly represents the early history and pioneering evolution of the City of Denver’s first Mountain Park, while also fostering groundbreaking developments in the Colorado ski industry as a whole. Since 1955, the Balcony House has played an essential role in skiing, snowboarding and summer activities, and in enhancing the overall experience of visitors.  The two-story Balcony House, with its panoramic views from cascading balconies, is a prime example of Mid-century Modern architecture and may be the only remaining Mid-century Modern public ski lodge in Colorado.  The Balcony House is threatened by under-appreciation of its significance and uniqueness and a 2009 Master Plan that calls for its demolition and replacement with 5-6 stories of condominiums above one level of resort operations.  Advocates for preservation think a better way can be found to accommodate future growth, operations, and programming without sacrificing the Balcony House.  Listing on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places is intended to be a catalyst for further discussion with the Winter Park Recreation Area (WPRA) and Alterra Mountain Company, developers of the ski resort, about how to work together to preserve Winter Park Ski Area’s most authentic building.

Two sites previously listed on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places were recognized as SAVES:

  1. Gold Medal Orchard                                                  (Montezuma County)
  2. Goodnight Barn                                                          (Pueblo County)

This project is paid for in part by a History Colorado State Historical Fund grant.  Colorado’s Most Endangered Places are located throughout the state.  The general public is invited to visit, learn, and be inspired! 

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