Over the seven years or so of its existence, Denver-based HistoriCorps has engaged almost 1,500 volunteers in the preservation of two hundred historic structures ranging from remote mountain cabins in Wyoming to the one room schoolhouse attended by George Washington Carver in the community of Neosho, Missouri. Although their geographic reach is great (24 states at last count), a huge number of preservation projects take place right here in HistoriCorps’ home state of Colorado. The work of HistoriCorps will be showcased in a planned documentary series by Boulder filmmaker Joe Daniel called SAVING PLACES®. Of the fifteen or so projects to be featured in the planned series, fully one third are in Colorado. They range from the restoration of the historic Rourke Ranch in the Comanche National Grasslands in South Eastern Colorado, the soaring structures of the Ute-Ulay Mine (the mine and townsite were included in the Endangered Places Program of Colorado Preservation Inc in 2015), the Skinner Cabin in Mesa County, Hahns Peak Fire Lookout near Steamboat Springs, to the Buffalo Peak Ranch near the historic town of Fairplay.
Fixing the roof while the sun shines at the Ute Ulay mine buildings, Hinsdale County.
Here in Colorado the vital connection between historic preservation and local communities is well understood. We instinctively know how a building saved can serve as a unique tourist attraction, or as the key to the interpretation of the whole region. This is as true of industrial structures such as the Ute-Ulay Mine buildings as it is of picturesque pioneer cabins like the Skinner Cabin near Grand Junction. The adaptive reuse of the Buffalo Peaks project (future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library) offers a different example, where neglected buildings acquire a new lease of life, a fresh purpose that will likely draw visitors from far and wide. Indeed, it is a core belief at HistoriCorps that instilling a preservation ethic—inviting the public to a greater appreciation of our built history—provides the key to understanding the special character of a place. We work with local partners to preserve those vital assets for public benefit before they are lost forever. That is where the interests of HistoriCorps and Downtown Colorado converge.
Volunteers at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, Colorado.
More information on HistoriCorps and the Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of SAVING PLACES® is available at http://kck.st/2r0vuI6. (You can also visit Kickstarter and search for either HistoriCorps or Saving Places.)
HistoriCorps gratefully acknowledges Colorado Preservation, Inc., one of its founders, for permission to use the wonderfully apt title, SAVING PLACES® for the series.