History Colorado staff and other writers chronicle the latest preservation success stories, share new perspectives on the past, and peer behind the scenes into the care and documentation of our collections. Read on to learn about how rare collections of historic artifacts and photographs are stored, cared for, and put on view. Find out what Colorado communities are doing to preserve their past for future generations. And, read in-depth histories of Colorado people and events of the past that still matter to us today.
The Loveland Lodge #1051 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (the Elks) has been located at the northeast corner of North Railroad Avenue and 4th Street in Loveland since 1927. The lodge has been part of the history of downtown Loveland for so long, many may not know that when the building was first constructed in 1913 it served as a hotel and looked different from how it looks today. When it was the Lovelander Hotel, the west elevation once had a porte cochere, a second light well, and a different fenestration (window arrangement). The south elevation originally had a different type of storefront with awnings.
In September 2016, History Colorado started work on the Colorado Digital Newspaper Project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to digitize 20 historic Colorado newspapers. Our first title, the Statesman, which later became the Denver Star, is now available—for free—on the Library of Congress Chronicling America website.
Over one hundred years ago, Margaret Gessing, a model for the Daniels and Fisher department store, was widely known as Denver’s most beautiful model. She not only modeled for individual customers and in fashion shows, but also was in high demand by newspaper photographers for fashion-page articles. After Margaret married a well-known and colorful mortician, Joseph E. Bona, they had a reputation for hosting great parties. Her story involves a number of notable, historic buildings of Denver's past.
William Henry Jackson is one of the American West’s best-known photographers, and History Colorado is fortunate to hold a large portion of his photographic oeuvre as well as a manuscript collection (MSS #341) containing correspondence, diaries, and other records of Jackson’s remarkable life. One of the more unusual items in our Jackson manuscript collection is a full report of a phrenological examination performed on Jackson when he was 18 years old by “Professor” O.S. Fowler. The pseudoscience of phrenology was popular in the 19th century and posited that the size and shape of a person’s head revealed information about that individual’s personality, character, and capabilities. While the practice has been thoroughly debunked, Fowler at least seems to have hit on something when he described Jackson’s capacity for artistic genius.
Each year, History Colorado honors historic preservationists and advocacy groups with the Stephen H. Hart Awards for Historic Preservation. At the 2017 event, Lee Merkel received an award for over forty years of public service as a tireless advocate for historic resources in Colorado’s southeast region. Lee’s perspective is that preservation should be a union between the recognition of history and viable use of those resources for public good. Saving “old buildings” can have a direct and positive impact on everyday Coloradans.
The National Park Service National Register of Historic Places program celebrates August as Archaeology month. Given the weather, it’s a great time to get outside and take advantage of the last of summer before school. There are many publicly accessible sites that speak to Colorado’s rich archaeological heritage and all these sites can reveal to us about the past.
On a lonely stretch of highway about 100 miles north of Denver, there’s a sign for a town where no town exists: Virginia Dale, Colorado. There’s a boarded-up post office, a tiny community church, and a Colorado historical site marker that may or may not catch your eye as you drive by on US Highway 287 at seventy-five miles an hour.