This summer two new buildings were added to the State Register of Historic Properties that tell the stories of two notable Coloradans with very different, but equally fascinating, backgrounds that led them to esteem designing buildings in Greeley and Denver, respectively.
In addition, the Downtown Loveland Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. This exciting new listing honors the agricultural and economic heritage of a small railroad community that grew into a commercial center.
Colorado’s historic buildings always tell a story. Some illustrate the wealth generated from the gold and silver mining days while others tell the tale of the state’s agricultural beginnings. Seldom heard, though, are the stories that are confined within the walls of Colorado’s prisons and jails.
To help these tales break free, here is a glimpse at three historic Colorado jails (and one prison) that you may not know about.
Long before “Orange” became the “New Black,” female inmates at the Colorado Women’s Prison, part of the State Penitentiary in Canon City, were navigating close quarters on strict schedules with limited access to educational resources. Learn more about this historical women’s penitentiary that is reused today as a museum.
Established by an act of the Colorado Territorial Legislature in 1871, the Territorial Prison in Canon City was constructed using natural stone quarried on the site of the 25-acre prison grounds. It was the first of six territorial penitentiaries to be constructed before Colorado became a state and was renamed Colorado State Penitentiary when Colorado achieved statehood in 1876. The location of the prison was decided with the support of Denver legislators. In turn for Denver’s support, Canon City voted Denver as the state capital over Golden.
The first time my wife and I traveled to the San Luis Valley, we fell in love with it. We got to know the valley well, and in March 2005 we were invited to see the Medano Ranch, a 50,000-acre spread just west of the Great Sand Dunes. The Pedro Trujillo Homestead is located on the property, and we were taken there to experience the remoteness and beauty of its setting. An hour at the site, with its free-flowing artesian well and breathtaking views of the dunes, left us changed forever. As a boy I tagged along with my parents on 4-wheel visits to many Colorado mountain ghost towns. Everything I had learned on those trips told me that the Pedro Trujillo structure was a treasure. My wife and I decided it needed to be preserved—and soon. In a few more years, there’d be nothing left to save. Continue reading “Privately Funded Preservation: Saving the Trujillo Homestead”
RACE: Are We So Different? may not be here at the History Colorado Center any longer—the exhibit, which was produced by the American Anthropological Association left on January 4—but that doesn’t mean we’re done talking about race and its implications. Race is always a topic of discussion in the United States and the world, for that matter, particularly within the last year, and as a history organization, it’s part of who we are to think and talk about how our country’s ever-changing cultural attitudes affect how we see and preserve the past. Indeed, there’s no better time to continue the conversation than on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Continue reading “More Than Just a Piece of Paper: Why the Winks Lodge National Register Amendment Matters”