State Historical Fund Awards $535,980 to Preservation Projects Across Colorado
DENVER — May 9, 2023 — History Colorado’s State Historical Fund (SHF) awarded $535,980 in competitive grant funding to fourteen applicants across thirteen different counties in the state of Colorado earlier this month. Nearly 50 percent of projects funded in this grant round are in rural areas of the Centennial State and include rehabilitation of historic buildings, surveys to identify historically significant resources, and funding of statewide educational opportunities.
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“This round of grants represent the fulfillment of established preservation plans, and the building blocks of larger projects,” said Marcie Moore Gantz, State Historical Fund Director. “The construction documents, surveys, and rehabilitation work being undertaken by awardees are foundational preservation efforts and highlight ways that people are innovatively using SHF funding as a vehicle for not just cultural preservation, but tourism generation, and equitable access to opportunities for Colorado’s diverse communities.”
This round of grants, known as Mini Grants, allows Colorado communities to request up to $50,000 to support preservation and archaeology projects that save the places and stories they cherish. Since 1981 preservation projects in Colorado have created more than 27,000 jobs and generated a total of nearly $3.9 billion in direct and indirect economic impacts, adding $2.2 billion to Colorado’s GDP.
The American Federation of Human Rights Headquarters | Larkspur, CO
The American Federation of Human Rights (AFHR) was awarded $15,874 towards the creation of construction documents to plan future rehabilitation of its historic administration building in Larkspur. Constructed in 1924, the administration building serves as the headquarters of the corporate arm of a Co-Masonic fraternal order and is a contributing resource to the American Federation of Human Rights National Register Historic District.
Originally part of the International Order of Freemasonry, which was founded by French writer and suffragist Maria Deraismes, the AFHR is noted for their contributions to social reform movements and progressivism in the early 20th Century. The organization's contributions include helping to establish fair wages, safe working conditions, and equal rights for all, regardless of nationality, gender, race, or creed.
Today, the AFHR continues its social advocacy by combating ignorance, eliminating oppression, and working to provide equal rights for all. The AFHR membership is markedly diverse with 75% identifying as women or LGBTQ+, and 50% being Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color.
The construction documents created by this project are the first step in a multi-phase process to rehabilitate the building and address construction deficiency that led to its deterioration. Specific concerns to be addressed include drainage issues which have caused moisture infiltration into the structure, and repairs to the external stucco work and stairs.
In addition to preserving a symbolic landmark for the Larkspur area, the AFHR hopes this project will raise awareness of historical preservation funding that is available to the community through History Colorado’s State Historic Preservation Office.
“As we continue promoting and rehabilitating this building, our visitors and the town of Larkspur will see the benefits of historic preservation and how it can preserve our important cultural heritage through protecting our historic resources and eliminate the misconceptions of accepting SHF funding and the onerous restrictions that do not exist,” said Matias M. Cumsille, American Federation of Human Rights President.
Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Depot | Grand Junction, CO
The Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority was awarded $50,000 to create construction documents for rehabilitation efforts at the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Depot. These documents will allow for further phases of construction to be completed and passenger rail service by Amtrak to be restored to the depot.
Originally opened in 1906, the Grand Junction railroad depot is the largest station between Denver and Salt Lake City and was continuously used by the railroad until 1991. In 1992 the depot was designated to the National Register of Historic Places and since then it has changed hands multiple times before being purchased by the current owners Veronica Sanchez and Dustin Anzures of Grand Junction in 2016.
Sanchez and Anzures hope to restore this nationally registered property to operation so that it might serve as a point of civic pride, a tourism gateway for the Grand Junction, and a reminder of the importance of the railroad to the establishment of the city.
In addition to creating construction documents, SHF funding will cover the submission of building plans to the city of Grand Junction, and historical research for a series of interpretive wall displays that will explore the history of the railroad depot.
The preservation team overseeing this project plans to apply for future funding and preservation tax credits to help subsidize the rehabilitation of this historic building and elevate the depot to the level of the major union stations/depots across the state such as Union Station in downtown Denver and the Union Depot in Pueblo.
"The Historic Denver and Rio Grande Railroad Railroad Depot is an iconic building and its planned revitalization would bring this southern part of our Downtown back to life," said Brandon Stam, executive director at Downtown Grand Junction Partnership. "We've seen historic rail buildings like this given a second life as re-imagined community gathering spaces such as museums, event halls, restaurants, and bars, and we know the depot's close proximity to our Main Street and Downtown hotels presents a wonderful redevelopment opportunity that could serve as a catalyst for this area."
Urban Sanctuary | Denver, CO
Urban Sanctuary in the historic Five Points neighborhood of Denver was awarded $50,000 for the creation of construction documents for rehabilitation work. This work will include the replacement of the membrane roofing system, rehabilitation of the store front, evaluation of structural integrity, and updates to the heating system to make the building more habitable and efficient during the winter months
Originally constructed in 1892 as a residence this historic structure was converted into the Douglass Mortuary in 1915. Since then the Neoclassical inspired building has housed several businesses including an upholsterer, a cleaner, a billiards hall, and a bar before being rented by Urban Sanctuary in 2016 to serve as a yoga and wellness studio and later purchased by Urban Sanctuary in 2022. Due to its storied origins and multiple uses the Urban Sanctuary building is one of nine contributing buildings to the Five Points Historic Cultural District in Denver and has a strong historic significance to communities of color in Denver.
Known as the “Harlem of the West,” the Five Points neighborhood was created as a result of redlining and restrictive covenants which limited areas where BIPOC individuals could live in Denver. As a result Five points became a multicultural neighborhood for Black and Hispanic Coloradans as well as being one of the first places Japanese American families could live in Denver following the end of World War II.
This project is the first of a multiphase rehabilitation effort that will uplift this historic building and allow the Black led non-profit it houses to broaden their services and increase their accessibility to the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities of Denver.
“Urban Sanctuary is a haven for the BIPOC community, and we are constantly working to learn the best practices to support and uplift people of color,” said Ali Duncan, founder of Urban Sanctuary. “Through building restoration, we will be able to winterize the building and keep the studio open during the colder winter months in which we struggle to keep the space warm.”
Beyond the direct impact on Urban Sanctuary and those it serves, preservationists believe this project will highlight ways that local, black-owned businesses can continue to thrive in historically black spaces, and combat displacement in a neighborhood facing enormous development pressure.
“We hope that the preservation of the Douglass building will encourage others in the neighborhood to choose restoration of the original structures and buildings versus demolition as the neighborhood works to rebuild and develop,” Duncan said.
These projects are just a fraction of the preservation efforts History Colorado’s State Historical Fund has contributed to since it was established in 1990. A full list of projects funded by the SHF can be found at historycolorado.org/received-and-awarded-grants.
History Colorado’s State Historical Fund awards grants funded by limited stakes gaming in the towns of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek for preservation of significant buildings, structures, objects, districts, and archaeology sites in Colorado.
Additional information about State Historical Fund grants and application materials can be found at historycolorado.org/apply-here.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado