Press Release

History Colorado’s State Historical Fund Awards Nearly $5.5 Million in Preservation Funding

Grant Round Invests Heavily into the Prosperity of Rural Colorado

DENVER — June 11, 2024 — History Colorado’s State Historical Fund has awarded $5,499,736 to 37 historic preservation projects across the Centennial State. Of the projects funded, 23 are located in rural parts of Colorado and amount to a $2,912,409 investment into the prosperity of rural Colorado. 

Luke Perkins, Manager of Communications and Public Relations
303.866.3670 | 

"These grants not only preserve physical structures but also safeguard the cultural narratives and identities that define Colorado,” said Marcie Moore Gantz, State Historical Fund director. ”By supporting projects in historically marginalized communities, and with 62% of recommended projects located in rural counties, we are fostering a more inclusive preservation movement that honors the richness of our state’s history while promoting rural prosperity. This funding cycle not only revitalizes communities but also stimulates economic growth and resilience across Colorado."

This grant round includes both General Grants (ranging from $50,001 - $250,000) and Mini Grants (up to $50,000) and concludes Fiscal Year 2024 during which the State Historical Fund awarded 116 grants for a total investment of $11,087,175 towards preservation efforts across the state. Since it was founded in 1991, the State Historical Fund has awarded more than 5,300 grants for a total of $371,083,744 in funding for historic preservation across Colorado.

In addition to helping protect the stories and places Coloradans cherish, preservation efforts have a direct effect on the economic health of the Centennial State. Since 1981, preservation efforts in Colorado have created more than 27,000 jobs and generated nearly $3.9 billion in direct and indirect economic impacts, adding $2.2 billion to Colorado’s GDP.

Below are a selection of highlighted projects. A complete list of all 37 grants awarded by the State Historical Fund in this round of applications can be found here.

Temple Aaron of Trinidad, Colorado | Las Animas County
The Temple Aaron of Trinidad, Colorado, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of Temple Aaron, was awarded $237,714 by the State Historical Fund for the replacement of the synagogue’s 135-year-old pressed metal roof and rehabilitation of masonry damaged by water infiltration. This funding will support the first phase of these repairs, with a later phase focused on restoration of Temple Aaron’s distinctive onion dome, minarets, front gable end, and pyramid. 

Known as the second-oldest known synagogue in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River, Temple Aaron was constructed in 1889 and is both a contributing structure to the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District, and a National Historic Landmark that was designated in 2024 because of its close association with Jewish migration into the American West.

In addition to its importance to the regional Jewish community, Temple Aaron is historically and culturally significant for being one of 80 buildings within the City of Trinidad that were designed by renowned architect Isaac Hamilton Rapp, who is known as the originator of the Santa Fe Style that is common throughout the Southwest.

Rehabilitation of the synagogue has been an ongoing priority for the people of Trinidad and this grant represents the seventh State Historical Fund award to Temple Aaron. Previous grants were awarded in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2020, and 2023, for a number of urgent needs, such as foundation repairs and site drainage improvements, as well as planning for the roof replacement project. 

In addition to the rehabilitation funded by this grant, Temple Aaron is in need of extensive masonry repairs, electrical modernization, restoration of window frames, and protection of the synagogue's stained glass windows. To fund this additional work the temple has a robust fundraising plan which taps into multiple avenues of funding – including applying for additional SHF grants – to protect this crucial landmark that not only serves as a place for religious observances but also a symbol of the city’s revitalization and tourism efforts.

“This award from the State Historical Fund represents a major milestone in preservation of Temple Aaron,” said Kim Grant, Temple Aaron board member. “By replacing the original 135-year old pressed metal roof, restoring the original cornice, and carrying out masonry repairs we will help ensure Jewish continuity in the community and benefit the region for years to come.”

The Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley | Costilla County
The Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley was awarded $102,902 to create comprehensive construction documents for the oldest grocery store in the state of Colorado – The People's Market in the town of San Luis. These documents will guide the expansion of services at this historic market and hardware store so it can serve as a member-owned grocery co-op, as well as a commercial kitchen, a coffee shop, a health and learning center that focuses on the preparation of traditional foods, and a retail space that serves as an incubator for small businesses.

The People's Market has been a staple of San Luis since it was first established by Dario Gallegos in 1857 as the R & R Market. Ownership of the store was transferred to Gallegos’ son-in-law Arcadio Salazar in 1894, and the building was passed down by Salazar's descendants until 2021, when it was sold to its current owners.

Built in the Pueblo Revival style, which is characterized by flat roofs and stepped parapets that replicate the Indigenous Pueblo buildings, The People’s Market is considered a contributing structure to Plaza de San Luis de la Culebra National Register Historic District. The building is also the heart of the San Luis Food Sovereignty Initiative established in 2021 by a sizable grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.

“The People’s Market is the conduit whereby the farmers and citizens of San Luis can be
empowered to control their own future,” said Jason Medina, executive director at Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley. “The Acequia Institute is re-envisioning the oldest grocery store in Colorado into a worker-led co-op that is a cultural and community health hub. This project will both rejuvenate one of the state’s earliest, and most unique Spanish-influenced, communities and provide a roadmap for other rural communities looking to build self-sufficiency.”

Historic Boulder, Inc. | Boulder County
Historic Boulder Inc. was awarded $227,237 to rehabilitate the front facade of the Boulder Theater as outlined in construction documents created by a previous planning grant from the State Historical Fund. This rehabilitation will include removing and replacing delaminated stucco, restoring masonry in the underlying structural wall, repairing a large crack in the 88 year-old facade, and restoring historic windows so that the theater can remain a vibrant visual reminder of Boulder’s cultural heritage and thrive for years to come.

Since it was opened in 1936, the Boulder Theatre has been a center for art and culture for the community of Boulder and introduced a rare example of Art Deco architectural style to the city's National Register Downtown Historic District. In the 1970s the theater fell on hard times as competition in performing arts venues rose in the community, the building changed owners multiple times, and the future of the theater seemed in doubt.

In 1980 Historic Boulder successfully petitioned for the building to be designated as a landmark by the City of Boulder due to its distinctive architecture, association with the Great Depression, and importance as a gathering place for community members and visitors alike. Following the achievement of landmark status, Historic Boulder located a purchaser interested in preserving the historic character of the building while reconfiguring it as a multi-use cultural facility.

Since then the Boulder Theater has continued to be a place to gather for entertainment, education, and connection. In 2023 alone the venue hosted 180 events which attracted more than 100,000 visitors

“Boulder Theater is one of the most recognizable and well-loved buildings in the city,” said Ruth McHeyser, Historic Boulder board member emerita. “With its rare and vibrant Art Deco facade in the heart of Downtown Boulder, it is a place where residents and visitors of all ages, economic, social, and cultural backgrounds have gathered for entertainment, education, and connection for generations.”

Historic St. Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc. | Chaffee County
The Historic St. Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc. – a non-profit dedicated to preserving the ghost town of St. Elmo and various other historic sites in Chalk Creek Canyon – was awarded $178,789 to stabilize the historic Morley Bridge in Chaffee County. This will consist of replacing the walking surface of the bridge and ensuring the underlying structure is stable so that the bridge can continue to serve as a touch point to Colorado’s mining and railroad history.

Constructed in 1881, Morley Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its connection to mining in the Centennial State and the race between two competing railroads – the Denver, South Park, and Pacific (DSP&P); and the Denver and Rio Grande (D&RG) – to construct tracks from Gunnison to Leadville in the late 1800s. While Morley Bridge is one of many built by DSP&P on the route from Nathrop to Gunnison it is the only wrought-iron, pin-connected Pratt deck truss bridge in the state’s inventory and carried railway traffic until 1926 when the rail lines were removed and the bridge converted into a County Road.

In 1992 vehicular traffic was directed off Morley Bridge and it was reimagined as a pedestrian bridge that welcomes over 100,000 guests a year and provides access to the Chalk Creek Mining District – which includes St. Elmo and the newly restored Romley Terminal – as well as a wealth of outdoor recreation attractions. 

The need for the repairs funded by this grant goes beyond just preserving the structural and historic integrity of the bridge and also includes public safety as the bridge is often crossed by outdoor recreationists and heritage tourists, whose visitation is crucial to the local economies.

It is the goal of Historic St. Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc. that the preservation of this site will allow for the continued education and attraction of visitors who are interested in the history of this historic mining district.

“Although many of our visitors come to ride the trails, hike and see the views, most walk away with a newfound knowledge about the importance of mining,” said Melanie Roth, president of the board for Historic St. Elmo and Chalk Creek Canyon Inc. “These visitors then disperse across the state and country to inform others so that they too can visit and learn about the important history of Chalk Creek Canyon.” 

Additional phases of rehabilitation of Morley Bridge are planned to ensure public safety and preserve the structural integrity of the bridge such as providing guardrails and restoration of the stone abutments. There are also plans to interpret the history of DSP&P railroad and the Chalk Creek Mining District through interpretive panels that will be installed near the bridge.

Dolores River Boating Advocates | Montezuma County
The Dolores River Boating Advocates were awarded $187,316 to conduct an ethnographic study that builds off of earlier efforts to identify sites along a 241-mile span of the Dolores River associated with Native American Tribes with ancestral homelands in this area. Specifically, this grant will fund site visits by Tribal Representatives of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and Southern Ute Indian Tribe, as well as the Zia and Zuni Pueblos, to survey the area and conduct interviews about the cultural importance of the Dolores River Cultural Landscape.

The hope is that this ethnographic study will inform future land management plans for the Dolores River while also documenting the place-based knowledge of the Tribes which historically called it home. Information gathered through this project will illuminate the history of Indigenous inhabitation of the area, the continued cultural importance of this vital watershed, and help identify traditional cultural properties and sacred sites so land management agencies can appropriately manage them.

Additionally, this project will help build relationships between Tribes who have long been displaced from these lands and land managers so that Tribal representatives can provide input regarding culturally appropriate management of these lands for future generations.

“These lands are slowly changing because of climate-change induced drought, increasing visiting and recreational use, as well as a resurgence of mining activities,” said Rica Fulton, advocacy and stewardship director for the Dolores River Boating Advocates. “It is critical that a better understanding of Tribal connection and importance is established so federal land managers can better protect the cultural and natural resources associated with the Dolores River.”

This project will be the first time that such an ethnographic study has been undertaken for the region and should lead to expanded interpretive signage, and educational programming for both the agencies that maintain this area and the general public which use the Dolores River. 

The timing of this project is very beneficial as legislation is currently being considered in Congress that would create a Natural Conservation Area in the Dolores River Corridor. The Tribal involvement in this project would provide vital ethnographic data to inform future management plans for this conservation area if it is passed into law.

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 145-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, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado