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Do you know this place?—Women’s History Month edition

The history of the impact women have made in the state of Colorado is extensive. Too often, their accomplishments incited little fanfare at the time. By revisiting these overlooked triumphs, we take an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Colorado women as well as the communities they helped shape.

We can discover inspirational stories in the places that showcase how Colorado is special. In our Do you know this place? blog series, we quiz you on what you might know about these places and then reveal what makes them unique. This month we quiz you on a place that women played a prominent role in creating and maintaining for generations of Coloradans.

Do you know this place?

1.  Where is it?
a)  Craig
b)  Springfield
c)  Julesburg
d)  Delta

2.  When was it built?
a)  1899
b)  1910
c)  1937
d)  1955

3.  What is it?
a)  a sanitarium
b)  a residence
c)  a school
d)  a library
 

Answers

1. c) Julesburg
2. c) 1937
3. d) a library

The Julesburg Public Library sits just across the street from the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Julesburg. It is the product of efforts by the Julesburg Woman’s Club (JWC) to establish a permanent library and community meeting facility.

The seeds of this effort were first sown in 1913 at a Woman’s Christian Temperance Union meeting. At that time arrangements were made to establish a reading room in downtown Julesburg with the hopes that in time it might become a public library.

When the JWC was officially organized the following year, the members assumed the responsibility of going forward with plans for a permanent building and for raising the necessary money. The club purchased lots and deeded the property to the town with the stipulation that it was to be held in trust as a library site. The JWC members organized and sponsored a variety of fundraisers that included dramatic productions, sandwich stands at the county fair, the sale of Christmas and Easter flowers, Election Day food sales, concerts, art exhibits, and a community cookbook.

In 1935 the JWC engaged Denver architect Stanley Morse to draw up plans, which were heartily endorsed and publicly displayed. Realizing that additional assistance was critical, the JWC announced it would apply for a grant from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The building’s modernistic style is typical of many Depression-era WPA construction projects.

The artistic rock fireplace in the club room is the result of the work of two JWC members. They accompanied a large WPA truck to the Big Thompson Canyon area, where they selected stones that men from the WPA loaded into the truck. The women designed the fireplace by directing a local mason on the placement of each rock.

At the groundbreaking ceremonies held in February the following year, as each past president of the JWC was introduced, they removed a shovelful of earth from the foundation site. At the dedication ceremonies in October 1937, speaker US Senator Ed Johnson noted that during Roosevelt’s visit to Julesburg the previous summer, the president had remarked that it gave him satisfaction knowing that the WPA money was spent to such a good advantage.

The next month, the front page of the local paper described the spacious 92-by-43-foot building, noting: “In fact numerous people have remarked that the library is too much for Julesburg. To this remark a Julesburg businessman said recently: ‘Let’s build Julesburg up to equal the library.’”

The building today still houses the library and provides a permanent meeting room for the JWC, who continue to manage the library. Rooms in the building are used for various civic and social activities, including political meetings, alumni reunions, church services, and private parties for anniversaries, weddings, and birthdays. The Julesburg Public Library is listed in the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.