Opinion: Privately owned buildings are bulldozer bait | Columns







John Hazlehurst


Twenty decades back an mysterious variety popped up on my quite new, quite amazing and then outstanding little device identified as a mobile cellular phone. I answered — neighborhood quantities had been constantly local, and spam calls weren’t a point.

Introducing himself, the caller had a peculiar proposition. “I read through your piece in the [Business Journal’s sister publication the Colorado Springs] Independent about the Burns [Theatre],” he reported, “and I have one thing you really should have.” 

Sounded appealing — so I gave him my tackle and he showed up a several several hours later on. He experienced a gigantic, dilapidated hanging lamp that experienced been produced from a stained glass indicator that had hung more than the ticket booth at the Burns. 

“I assumed probably you could restore it as a indicator, or correct it up and hang it up in your home,” he explained. “I don’t have any place for it.”

So I took it with thanks, set it in the basement and there it sat for practically 20 several years — until eventually we embarked on one more try to declutter our ancient home.

Honoring my type-of dedication two decades before, I hauled the when-and-upcoming sign to Linda “The Glassy Lady” for restoration. She did an incredible task — it was breathtakingly lovely. We thought about hanging it on our cluttered partitions, but it was major, fragile and way too vulnerable to our leaping, roughhousing young canine. It was normally destined for the Pioneers Museum, so I schlepped it more than previously this 7 days.

They had been delighted to have it, and I was delighted to give it. Our city-owned historical past museum is an remarkable asset to the local community, absolutely free to all comers, unpretentious, exciting and endlessly attention-grabbing. The museum’s main goal: to build a lasting connection to the Pikes Peak area by preserving and sharing our cultural history.

The resplendent Burns turned the beloved Chief Theater. It retained its remarkable architecture and inside decoration, delighting generations of moviegoers until it was gracelessly demolished in 1973. You can blame the shortsighted entrepreneurs of the developing, who refused to fund an substantial renovation, or the similarly shortsighted elected officers who stood passively by, but there’s a further unacknowledged perpetrator.

Our city has thrived for 15 a long time since it was conceived and focused to the premise that (practically) all advancement is superior. If you have a creating, you have the ideal to tear it down, replace it or leave it vacant. Non-public property is just that. As opposed to Denver, our metropolis govt cannot adversely landmark a making — in reality, the owner of a setting up can not check with the city for landmark status. That indicates that each privately owned developing in the metropolis is prospective bulldozer bait. Area, state or national historic sign up listings may confirm historic standing, but this sort of listings do not avoid present or potential proprietors from tearing them down. Properties in the North Stop Historic District are perfectly protected, but related households on the Westside are not.

The inherent dynamism, optimism and generally explosive nature of progress in Colorado Springs signifies that no buildings are sacrosanct. Take into consideration the Town Auditorium, which town officers refused to preserve or renovate for many years. In spite of our community’s passion for the stunning old pile, it may well have finally fallen to the wrecker’s ball without the Colorado Springs Conservatory’s Linda Weise and her ongoing restoration initiatives. Look at also the Union Printer’s House, acquired by a benevolent coalition of rich area citizens who purpose to protect and revivify that wonderful campus. 

Our philanthropic and organization communities have grow to be much much more attuned to preservation in latest decades, but we require a landmark ordinance that empowers assets entrepreneurs. And yeah, I’ve obtained a puppy in this combat — our 1899 Westside home. Landmarking it would maintain and defend it, even nevertheless it might diminish its worth for potential house owners. 

Those people of us who bear in mind the Burns, The Antlers lodge (the 1 torn down in 1964), and dozens of other structures that fell in the city’s mid-20th century Demolition Derby (AKA Urban Renewal) are dying off, and hope that foreseeable future generations will treasure the developed landscape of the past. 

Just now, sitting down at my desk at home seeking to determine out a good stroll-off for this column, a good friend posted the plan for the opening of the new County Courthouse (now household to the Pioneers Museum), dated Could 16, 1903. It’s in the museum’s assortment.

The 1st speaker outlined was Judge Louis Cunningham of the Criminal Court, who had probably taken the trolley Downtown from his spacious new Westside property exactly where I now sit. Do I feel in ghosts? It’s possible now…