DENVER — Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI) announced five new additions to the 2023 Most Endangered Places list on Thursday, also saying one endangered site previously added to the list has been restored and another site was lost.
The nonprofit organization, which works with communities in the state to save threatened or endangered historic buildings and sites, listed the following new sites Thursday:
Far View Visitor Center, Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez, Montezuma County
Constructed in 1967 and opened to the public in 1970, the Far View Visitor Center at Mesa Verde National Park was one of the first visitor centers of the National Park Service.
An initiative of Mission 66, designed to enhance and expand visitor experience and services at National Parks nationwide, the Far View Visitor Center sits within the Far View complex at Mesa Verde.
It overlooks the canyons, mesas and landmarks that are significant to the many native cultures of the region. Denver architects Joseph and Louise Marlow designed this unique, circular building, and it continues to retain its historic character.
Since its closing in 2012, the National Park Service has identified several uses for the Far View Visitor Center, but due to the building’s current condition, none have come to fruition.
By listing the visitor center on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places, CPI hopes to partner with the National Park Service to begin a formal process to explore adaptive reuse options for this unique, one-of-a-kind structure.
Feminilas Building, San Luis Valley, Costilla County
Located near San Francisco Creek in the San Luis Valley, the Feminilas Building is the only known structure separately owned and operated by the women’s auxiliary of men’s labor organization, La Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (SPMDTU).
The Feminilas provided aid to the afflicted and bereaved, similar to the Penitentes, a men’s group associated with the Catholic Church.
Constructed around 1920, the small adobe building, complete with vigas and latillas popular in the region, is in poor condition. It suffers from natural weatherization and deterioration and is in danger of collapse.
Preservation of the Feminilas Building would help preserve the unique lifeways, language and culture of the San Luis Valley and the traditional contributions of Hispanic women.
CPI will work with the property owners and local stakeholders to stabilize, rehabilitate, and highlight the role of women’s auxiliaries in Colorado history.
Garcia School, San Luis Valley, Costilla County
Constructed in 1913, the Garcia School was one of 11 adobe schools built in Costilla County in the San Luis Valley before the consolidation of Centennial School District R-1 in 1963.
Listed on the State Register of Historic Properties, the building is one of the last structures of Plaza de Los Manzanares, the site of the first European settlement in Colorado.
The Garcia School retains many historical elements but suffers from weather exposure, deterioration, lack of maintenance and funding, and an isolated setting.
The Centennial School District has received a CDE and the Connecting Colorado Students Grant (CCSG) in the amount of 3.2 million to build out internet in nearby San Luis and establish a remote learning center at the Garcia School.
CPI will help the school district develop partnerships and access technical assistance to preserve the building and create an accessible location for rural students.
Koch Homestead, near Aspen in Pitkin County
Also known as the Adelaide Ranch, the Koch Homestead consists of five relatively intact but deteriorating buildings in the Hunter Creek Valley near Aspen.
Today, only a few know of the origins of these historic structures, even though they played a significant role in the early settlement and development of Aspen.
Beginning in 1887, the Koch Homestead provided local meat, produce, dairy, lumber and freshwater to the first miners and settlers in Aspen. It also was the first hydro plant in the area.
Now owned by the U.S. Forest Service, the Koch Homestead sits along popular trails and has been determined preliminarily eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
The 60-acre site is a treasure that was the impetus for founding the Hunter Creek Historical Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to stabilizing and preserving historical resources to enhance the public’s awareness, enjoyment and stewardship of the valley for future generations.
The Foundation recently partnered with Historicorps and stabilized the Shop building. There are plans for the Road House and Dam Keepers Cabin in the coming years.
CPI believes that it is essential that historic structures on the Koch Homestead remain intact as a testament to those early settlers for the public to understand and appreciate.
South Platte Hotel, Jefferson County
Constructed in 1913 after the previous 1887 hotel caught fire during a tragic homicide, the South Platte Hotel symbolizes Colorado’s narrow gauge railroad history, early tourism and summer cabin communities.
Located in the North Fork Historic District, the hotel is the only remaining building left of the South Platte community. Abandoned and left to the elements, the South Platte Hotel has been owned by Denver Water since 1987 and is slated for demolition.
Strong support lies in the local community, and the building has the potential to support nearby recreational activities, which now define the region.
CPI hopes to partner with Denver Water, the Jefferson County Historical Commission and other local nonprofits to develop a plan for the adaptive reuse of the building.
The R&R Market, Costilla County
After a successful transition to new ownership and completion of $94,306 in rehabilitation work, the oldest continuously operating business in Colorado, formerly known as the R&R Market and now known as the San Luis People’s Market, has been saved from an uncertain fate.
Longtime San Luis Valley resident, Dr. Devon Peña, who founded the Acequia Institute to promote water democracy, resilient agriculture and environmental justice in the San Luis Valley, has taken on the challenge of operating the market, which has always been much more than just a grocery store.
The Acequia Institute received a $1.5 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to help with the acquisition of the R&R Market and its re-branding and transition to a new business model that ties the operation into the larger program initiative for Culebra River Acequia (community irrigation ditch) Communities in the Upper Rio Grande bioregion.
Prior owners Felix and Claudia Romero, who operated the market for 52 years and nominated it to Colorado’s Endangered Places in 2019, participated in the rehabilitation of key preservation priorities through the Colorado Main Street Open for Business Grant that was made in 2022.
That grant resulted in storefront glazing, roof coating, repair of the historic character-defining entryway/vestibule, exterior lighting, and painting of the façade. CPI congratulates the new owners and the Town of San Luis and looks forward to celebrating this “Save” of one of Colorado’s oldest historic resources.
Craig Depot, Moffat County
The Craig Depot in Moffat County was the site that was lost. Built in 1917, The Moffat Line and the Craig Depot served as the hub of activity for the transportation of livestock, coal, supplies, and people to and from an isolated area. Its threat when listed was demolition by neglect – vacant.
Since the program began in 1998, Colorado Preservation says it has highlighted 135 sites, saving 55 and losing 8. There are currently 50 sites listed as actively in progress, and 22 are under alert status.
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