Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado’s Most Endangered Places

Every February, Colorado Preservation Inc. (CPI) releases their annual list of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places. The program brings awareness to historic buildings, landscapes, or archaeological sites around Colorado that are in danger of demolition, neglect, modification, or development. This year’s endangered places, highlighting the history of southern Colorado, are:

  • Adobe Potato Cellars of the San Luis Valley (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties)
  • Hose Company No. 3 Fire Museum (Pueblo County)
  • Iglesia De San Antonio-Tiffany Catholic Church (La Plata County)
  • McIntire Ranch and Mansion (Conejos County)
  • R&R Market (Costilla County)

The Culebra River Villages of Costilla County, Colorado, a Colorado Historical Society publication available from our library, mentions the history of the adobe potato cellars:

An important consideration involved storage. When Anglo growers first marketed potatoes they stored surpluses above ground in circular wire-frames encased with hay or in straw-covered trenches. However, the Rio Culebra farmers preferred to store potatoes in a large, underground cellars, or soterranos. Because Hispano[s] used earth, not sod, for walls, their structures maintain an even temperature that kept potatoes from freezing. Hispano subterranean structures were so efficient and cheap to fabricate that Anglo farmers throughout the San Luis Valley adopted double-wall adobe construction for their above-ground storage facilities.

Adobe potato cellars in Rio Grande County, Colorado, circa 1939. Courtesy Library of Congress.

A second Historical Society publication offers information about Conejos County’s McIntire Ranch. An Archaeological Inventory in the Pike’s Stockade Area, Conejos County, Colorado discusses the ranch site‘s historical and archaeological resources, including what remains of the large adobe ranch house. The ranch belonged to Albert McIntire, governor of Colorado from 1895 to 1897. You can read about adobe construction in Adobe as a Building Material for the Plains and Adobe Brick for Farm Buildings, two early-twentieth-century publications from the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.

To learn more about historic preservation and its impact on Colorado communities, see Preservation for a Changing Colorado, a 2017 publication of CPI and History Colorado. Search our library’s online catalog for more Colorado history resources.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Downtown Streets

Safety, walkability, transportation, and aesthetic design are all important components of planning a downtown commercial area, whether in a large city or a small town. Downtowns and “Main Streets” can, if well planned, boost tourism and enhance quality of life for residents. Therefore the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Transportation teamed up to produce the guidebook Colorado Downtown Streets: A Tool for Communities, Planners, and Engineers, which you can view online from our library. The agency partners provide the following summary:

Great streets are more than infrastructure: they are the fundamental building blocks of successful communities. [Colorado Downtown Streets is] designed to help local leaders, community members, and technical professionals work together to transform their streets into safe, accessible, and vibrant places.

Use this guidebook to learn how well-planned streets can promote health, increase tax revenue and property values, attract tourists, and contribute to the life of the community by giving the city or town its own identity. Design considerations, such as bike lanes, traffic flow patterns, on-street parking, landscaping, lighting, and signage, are provided along with examples from towns and cities around the state. Tips for planning, implementing and funding are also provided, as are tools for enhancing “placemaking” and revitalizing historic areas.

To supplement the guidebook, a webinar and several companion videos were created, which you can view here. The guide was published as a component of the Colorado Main Street Program, which you can learn more about on the Department of Local Affairs’ website. You can also find more resources from state agencies about city planning and transportation by searching our library’s online catalog.


Colorado State Publications Blog

Building History Research

If you’re the proud owner of a historic property, or if there’s a particular building that speaks to you, you may be interested in finding more about its history. Who lived in your house and what were their stories? Or, what were the previous uses of your commercial or public building? If you’re wondering how to go about researching the history of a historic structure, our library has resources that can help you.

  • Researching the History of Your House is a publication from History Colorado that outlines the steps involved in research, not only for houses but for other buildings as well. This publication includes a handy checklist for places to search and helpful documents to find.
  • Documenting the History of Your Home is a 1992 publication from the Colorado State University Extension. The advice in this publication is still very relevant, but check with your local library or historical society because many of the resources mentioned are now available online, making research easier than ever before.
  • Your building’s architectural style can tell you a lot about its history, including the time period when it was built and for what purpose. See History Colorado’s Field Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture and Engineering for information on historic building styles, types, and materials. 
  • Who designed and/or built your house? If your research reveals the name of an architect or builder, check to see if they’re featured in History Colorado’s Architects of Colorado and Builders of Colorado biographical series. 
  • The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is a great tool that you can use to search for historic news stories about your building or its previous owners.

No matter where in Colorado your building is located, be sure to visit your local library. Many libraries have local history and archival collections. The Denver Public Library’s Western History and Geneaology Department, Boulder’s Carnegie Library for Local History, and Pikes Peak Library District’s Regional History and Geneaology are among the state’s best local history collections, but many smaller and rural libraries have excellent local history collections as well.

If your research turns up some fascinating history, or if your building is architecturally significant, consider nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places or as a local landmark (check with your town or municipality for information and eligibility criteria). See this fact sheet from the Colorado State University Extension or visit the Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation’s website for more information on the National Register.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Denver Landmarks & Historic Districts

Over the last few months you may have read the news articles about the proposed development of Larimer Square, Denver’s first designated historic district. This week, it was back in the news when the National Trust for Historic Preservation added Larimer Square to its annual list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

For the story behind Larimer Square, its buildings, and why it was preserved, check out Dr. Thomas J. Noel’s Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts (University Press of Colorado, 2016). This book takes a look at how, and why, Denver established its Landmark Preservation Commission in 1967 and has since designated over 50 historic districts – beginning with Larimer Square – and over 300 individual landmarks. Each of the districts and landmark structures is examined in the book. In our library you can also check out the first edition of the title, published in 1996 – which, in comparison with the new edition, can show how the program has grown in the last twenty years.

For more information about current issues in historic preservation in our state see Preservation for a Changing Colorado (History Colorado, 2017).

Colorado State Publications Blog

May is Historic Preservation Month

All this month communities across the nation are celebrating their unique places and stories. What events are happening in Colorado? Check out History Colorado’s list of Preservation Month events, including tours, lectures, festivals, workshops, and more.

Our library receives lots of questions about historic preservation in Colorado. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:

Q: I’m thinking of purchasing a specific property. How do I know if it is designated historic? or How do I designate my property as historic?
A: Check History Colorado’s listings of state and national register properties.  This site also includes information on how to nominate properties. Properties can also be designated as local landmarks — check with your county or municipality’s planning office.

Q: How do I apply for historic preservation tax credits for my property?
A: See this publication from the Department of Revenue as well as this page from History Colorado.

Q: How do I apply for grants to restore my property?
A: Click here to learn about the State Historical Fund, a competitive grant program available to owners of designated historic properties.

Q: What are some of the economic benefits of designating structures as historic?
A: In addition to the resources listed above regarding tax credits and grants, see also History Colorado’s 2017 publication Preservation for a Changing Colorado: The Benefits of Historic Preservation. Owners of commercial properties in small towns should also check out the Department of Local Affairs’ Colorado Main Street Program.

To learn more about historic preservation in Colorado, and to access additional publications, see our library’s historic preservation subject research guide.

Photo: Main Street, Silverton, Colorado. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Native American Rock Art

Petroglyphs in Mesa Verde National Park.

If you are exploring the rural areas of western Colorado you may see some examples of rock art created by prehistoric cultures.  According to the Colorado Historical Society’s 1984 publication Northwest Colorado Prehistoric Context,  “rock art sites are of two types: pictograph and petroglyphs.  Rock art panels can range in size from a small single figure or motif to very large panels consisting of dozens of figures. Both pictographs and petroglyphs can be found on the same panel. Representations can range from realistic to highly stylized.” Pictographs are painted onto stone using natural pigments; usually they only survive in caves or other areas where they are protected from the elements. Petroglyphs, on the other hand, are scratched or carved into the stone.

One of the most famous collections of rock art in Colorado is the Shavano Valley near Montrose, which was inhabited as early as 1000 BC. The site features twenty-six panels of prehistoric rock art. Shavano Valley was inhabited by Ute Indians until about 1900 so it contains some more recent examples of rock art as well, along with many other archaeological finds from nearly three thousand years of habitation.

Another site with many examples of rock art is Dinosaur National Monument in northwestern Colorado.  In 1964-65 a team from the University of Colorado conducted a major archaeological excavation on the site, which spanned the Colorado-Utah border.  Their report, published by the University in 1970, is available to read online.

Rock art has also been found in the San Juans.  In 1922, a team of archaeologists excavated there and reported their findings in “Further Archaeological Research in the Northeastern San Juan Basin of Colorado, During the Summer of 1922,” a two-part series in v.1, n.1 and v.1, n.2 of the Colorado Historical Society’s Colorado Magazine, now available online.  

Conejos County in southwestern Colorado also has examples of petroglyphs.  See the Colorado Historical Society’s An Archaeological Inventory in the Pike’s Stockade Area, Conejos County, Colorado (2007) for information on some of the rock art discovered in this region. See also the Colorado Historical Society’s Southwest Colorado Prehistoric Context publication.

A few isolated examples of rock art have also been found on the other side of the state, in southeastern Colorado. A 1930 archaeological survey of this part of the state “found only some thirteen sites with petroglyphs, as in most of the territory explored, fields, prairie, sand dunes, etc., there was no means for the Indians to produce pictographs on rocks.” An article on their findings can be found in the January 1931 issue of Colorado Magazine.

For general information on Native American rock art in Colorado, including the methods archaeologists use to classify the art by cultures and periods, see the Colorado Encyclopedia’s article Rock Art of Colorado.”  For a historical perspective on Colorado’s earliest peoples see the chapter “Ancient Inhabitants” in the Colorado Historical Society’s 1927 History of Colorado, which has been digitized by our library.  Our collection also contains some helpful resources available for checkout in hard copy, including

  • Archaeological Survey Along State Highway 139, Loma to Douglas Pass, published in 1986 by the Colorado Department of Highways, which contains an article about rock art.
  • In the Shadow of the Rocks: Archaeology of the Chimney Rock District in Southern Colorado (University Press of Colorado, 1993).
  • A Profile of the Cultural Resources of Colorado (Colorado Historical Society, 1996)
  • Colorado Plateau Country Historic Context (Colorado Historical Society, 1984)
  • Dinosaur National Monument Multiple Property Listing (Colorado Historical Society, 1986)
  • The Western San Juan Mountains: Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History (University Press of Colorado, 1996)
  • The Anasazi of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners (University Press of Colorado, 1996)

Want to see some rock art?  Many archaeological sites are not publicized in order to protect the artifacts; however, there are some places you can go to see rock art including Mesa Verde; the Canyon Pintado Rock Art Historic District near Rangely; and Vogel Canyon Petroglyphs near La Junta.  For information on these and other locations see History Colorado’s Public Archaeology list.

Finally, if you are an archaeologist, or if you are a landowner with rock art on your property, be sure and read Recording and Caring for Rock Art from the Colorado Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia

Colorado State Publications Blog

Surveying Historic Properties

What are the hidden stories behind the buildings in your community? How can you determine which ones should be preserved as part of your community’s heritage?  One of the tools that historic preservationists use to answer these questions is the historic survey.  Surveying historic properties can mean anything from what is known as the “windshield survey” — a quick drive or walk down the street to visually identify architecturally significant historic properties — to a detailed survey involving research into the the history of individual properties on a street or in a neighborhood or town.

History Colorado’s Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) has published a number of helpful guides on how preservationists can conduct historic surveys.  To learn about the benefits of conducting a historic survey, see OAHP’s brochure Why Survey?  Two OAHP publications are mentioned in this brochure as important tools for communities using the survey process to identify historic resources: the Colorado Cultural Resource Survey Manual and the Field Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture & Engineering. Both of these publications can be accessed from our library. If your survey includes in-depth research on historic properties, another helpful resource is OAHP’s Researching the History of Your House, which provides helpful information and a checklist of what, and where, to search. For more resources, see our library’s Historic Preservation in Colorado subject resource guide, or visit OAHP’s website.

Historic surveys can be helpful tools for both large and small communities.  The City of Denver is currently engaged in a city-wide historic building survey, Discover Denver, which is supported in part by a grant from OAHP’s State Historical Fund.

Photo courtesy Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Historic Preservation Tax Credits

This month’s Colorado Heritage magazine contains a Q & A about historic preservation tax credits in Colorado. These credits, both state and federal, are designed to encourage property owners to repair, renovate, and preserve historic buildings by helping them save money on their taxes.  In our library we have a number of resources that explain the process and eligibility for preservation tax credits:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Main Street Revitalization Act

In 2014 the Colorado Legislature passed HB14-1311, the “Colorado Job Creation and Main Street Revitalization Act,” which provided tax credits for Colorado communities to use to boost economic development — including job creation and tourism — while preserving the community’s unique historic commercial structures.  So how has it been doing so far?  According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), which administers the Colorado Main Street Program, the Act led to the creation of “266 full-time jobs, 111 part-time jobs and 98 new businesses throughout the 14 Colorado Main Street communities.”  In addition, “The Colorado Main Street program helped reinvest in physical improvements from public and private sources during 2015. These improvements included 17 façade updates and the rehabilitation of 98 buildings in all of the 14 Colorado Main Street communities.”

Are you interested in getting your town involved in the Main Street initiative?  Check out these resources from DOLA, including the official manual and a downtown planners’ guide. When your community has decided to join, go to the Join Main Street page to sign up.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Georgetown's Hotel de Paris

If you’re headed to the mountains this summer and are looking for some interesting history, stop in Georgetown — right off I-70 — and tour the Hotel de Paris.  The hotel’s founder, Louis Dupuy, was born in France and arrived in Denver in 1869.  He opened the hotel in 1875, and from that year until 1890 he made numerous expansions to the original building, which had started out as a bakery.  It soon became one of the most popular and elegant hotels in the Rocky Mountains.  Dupuy passed away in 1900, and new owners kept the establishment running as a boarding house until 1939.  In 1954 the Society of Colonial Dames purchased the hotel and turned it into a museum.  In 1978 it was returned to a more accurate representation of the Dupuy era, and since then has been giving visitors a look back into life in a late-nineteenth-century mining town.  Hotel de Paris is also Colorado’s only National Trust for Historic Preservation site.  The museum’s collection includes several thousand objects original to the hotel.

To commemorate the hotel’s rich history and its purchase by the Colonial Dames, the Colorado Historical Society in 1954 published a book on Hotel de Paris.  Hotel de Paris and Louis Dupuy in Georgetown, Colorado:  A Fragment of Old France Widely Known Everywhere in the West provides a quick history for visitors, useful either before or after a visit to the hotel.  You can find resources on other Georgetown attractions, such as the Georgetown Loop Railroad and the Hamill House, by searching our library’s web catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

The Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion

The Colorado governor’s mansion, officially named the Governor’s Residence at the Boettcher Mansion, is the “White House” of Colorado.  It is the official residence for Colorado governors as well as the site of many official state functions.  (Where it differs from the White House, however, is that the governor does not have his office there — his office is in the State Capitol).
The 1907-08 mansion is a showplace filled with furnishings and artifacts relating to Colorado and to the Boettcher family, who offered the mansion to the State in 1959.  That year, the Legislature split on whether to accept the mansion, and the gift was initially rejected and would have been torn down if Governor Stephen L.R. McNichols hadn’t stepped in at the last minute to accept the gift from the Boettcher Foundation.  The McNichols family moved into the mansion in 1961.
You can read about the history of the mansion (and see some wonderful photographs) in the book Queen of the Hill:  The Private Life of the Colorado Governor’s Mansion, available for checkout from our library.  I also posted some basic history on the mansion in a 2007 posting; since then, the official website of the mansion has changed.  The new site contains a virtual tour of the home along with information on event scheduling and a link to the Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund site, which contains more information about the mansion and how Coloradans can get involved.

Colorado State Publications Blog

State Capitol Dome

The Capitol Dome is again being revealed as the scaffolding has been slowly removed over the past several months.  So what was this project all about, and what will be the final result?  The Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration, who is overseeing the restoration, has issued this Fact Sheet, which includes a brief description of the project and information on the color of the cast iron, which may look a little bluish for now, but will eventually patina to match the rest of the building.

The Colorado State Capitol Dome undergoing restoration. 
Photo courtesy Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration.

The dome is also being re-gilded.  According to The Colorado State Capitol:  Pride of Our People (1992; available for checkout from our library), the dome has been re-gilded several times, including in 1949, 1980, and again in 1991 following hail damage that caused the gold leaf to flake.  The dome was first gilded in 1908 at a cost of $14,680.  Prior to that date, it had been covered in copper.  For the current restoration, gold from the mining areas of Cripple Creek and Victor was donated for the project and first went to Italy to be formed into gold leaf (see this blog post from the Share in the Care Campaign, which raised money for the dome restoration).

The gold dome.  Photo courtesy Colorado Legislative Council.

Today visitors can tour the Capitol dome, which is no longer in danger of injuring tourists, as it was prior to the renovation.  Visitors can view Mr. Brown’s Attic, an exhibit on the history and construction of the Capitol.  Click here for information about the free tour.  A virtual tour can also be accessed for those unable to visit in person.

Colorado State Publications Blog

May is Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month!

The month of May has been designated as Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month to bring awareness to the importance of preserving the past for the future.  Many events will take place throughout the month to celebrate our historic places.  For background information on Archaeology & Historic Preservation Month and a list of events, see this webpage from History Colorado.

Our library has numerous publications on archaeology and historic preservation, including multiple property listings and information on the economic benefits of historic preservation from History Colorado; books on archaeology from the University Press of Colorado; grants and Main Street revitalization information from History Colorado and the Department of Local Affairs; archaeological project documents from the Department of Transportation; and studies from the state universities.  Check our web catalog for documents, many of which can be accessed online.

Mesa Verde National Park.  Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Colorado State Publications Blog

"Force of Nature"

What’s the connection between rockfall mitigation and historic preservation?  The Colorado Dept. of Transportation explains in a fascinating 10-minute video, Force of Nature:  Passage and Preservation from Georgetown to Silver Plume.  Most of us have driven I-70 near Georgetown and seen the signs warning of falling rock.  The video explains how CDOT engineers are developing systems to protect I-70 drivers from falling rocks by building fences that can slow or stop the fall of boulders onto the interstate, while also helping preserve the historic character and contemporary livability of the silver mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume.  For example, CDOT engineers have designed the protective rockfall fences to be environmentally friendly and painted in colors that would seamlessly blend into the mountainside.  The video takes a look at the history of the silver mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume, and the importance of transportation to the area — first in the form of the narrow gauge railroad, and then the highway.  By creation of a National Historic Landmark District, historic Georgetown was saved from destruction for the highway, which had been planned to snake right through the center of
town — as a result, I-70 was built alongside the cliff, necessitating the need for rockfall mitigation. 

Today, the railroad has returned as a popular tourist attraction (the Georgetown Loop) and the highway is safer thanks to the efforts described in this interesting film.  For more information on the topics discussed in the brief film, visit our library’s web catalog for resources.  Publications of note include:  
  • The Georgetown Loop:  A Capsule History and Guide
  • The Rise of the Silver Queen:  Georgetown, Colorado, 1859-1896
  • Geologic Hazards of the Georgetown, Idaho Springs, and Squaw Pass Quadrangles, Clear Creek County, Colorado
  • Active Surficial-Geologic Processes and Related Geologic Hazards in Georgetown, Clear Creek County 
  • Rockfall in Colorado
  • High-Capacity Flexpost Rockfall Fences
  • Highway Rockfall Research Report
Colorado State Publications Blog

Uncovering the Past at the Colorado State Capitol

Yesterday’s newspaper ran a story about original wall stenciling that has been uncovered in the House and Senate Chambers of the Colorado State Capitol.  The original designs, done in red in the Senate and green in the House to match the chambers’ traditional colors, have been covered by acoustic tiles since the 1950s.  Uncovering the stenciling gives Coloradans a chance to see how the builders of the Capitol intended the chambers to look.  The stencils are being uncovered as part of a project to restore the chambers to their historic appearance.

Quoted in the article is Derek Everett, whose book The Colorado State Capitol:  History, Politics, and Preservation, is available from our library.  You can also learn more by visiting the “Mr. Brown’s Attic” exhibit in the Capitol or, if you cannot visit in person, take the virtual tour courtesy of the Colorado Legislative Council.  Our library has a number of other publications on the history, art, and architecture of the Capitol, so be sure and search our web catalog for additional resources.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Main Street Program

Recently Governor Hickenlooper announced that Trinidad has been added to the list of communities participating in the Main Street Program. With the addition of Trinidad, there are now 13 communities across Colorado participating in the program.  According to the Governor’s Office,

The Main Street® Program helps to revitalize downtown districts leveraging historic preservation. The program advocates for community self-reliance, local empowerment and the rebuilding of central business districts based on their traditional assets of unique architecture, personal service, local ownership and a sense of community. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is the statewide coordinating agency for all Main Street® communities and is sponsored, in part, by a generous grant from the State Historical Fund.

You can find out more about this program by visiting their website.  Also, the Department of Local Affairs has published Community Profiles on four of the communities participating in the Main Street Program:

Town of Fowler
Five Points (Denver)
City of Monte Vista
City of Rifle

Other state publications of interest regarding the Main Street Program, and available from our library, include:

Colorado Community Sustainability Guide
Colorado Sustainable Main Streets Initiative:  Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, for more information on the State Historical Fund, visit their website.  Additional information can be found in their publication The Economic Power of Heritage and Place.


Colorado State Publications Blog

The Economic Power of Heritage and Place

Did you know that if you own a historic building, you own an economic asset?  Studies have proven that the preservation of historic structures is directly linked to a stronger economy.  Historic places attract tourists, encourage investment in community, promote sustainability, and can provide owners with state and federal tax credits.  It’s all outlined in a new recent study from the Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation entitled The Economic Power of Heritage and Place:  How Historic Preservation is Building a Sustainable Future in Colorado.  A previous study from this office, The Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation in Colorado, further describes why historic preservation is a financially sound idea.  If you’re deciding whether to keep a historic building or replace it with a new one, keep some of these facts in mind:  1) you can get tax credits for preserving a historic building that you couldn’t get with a new structure — that means money in your pocket.  2) Owners of commercial and public buildings can apply for State Historical Fund grants.  3) Historic buildings were built to last for hundreds of years.  Today’s new construction is only meant to last for fifty years.  4)  Waste from building demolition is the second-highest contributor to landfills in America, after paper.  As any preservationist will tell you, “the greenest building is the one already built.”  So invest in your community today and consider the outstanding economic benefits of historic preservation. 
Colorado State Publications Blog

Promoting Colorado: Heritage Tourism

Colorado’s scenery isn’t the only reason visitors choose to vacation here.  Colorado also has a rich history and “heritage tourism” is an important part of Colorado’s tourism economy.  Not only do out-of-state visitors come for the well-known historic attractions like Mesa Verde and Bent’s Old Fort, but Colorado residents also spend a lot of time and money touring and learning about the history of their own state. 

So how much does heritage tourism contribute to the state’s economy?  A lot, actually.  According to the most recent Colorado Visitor’s Study, which covers 2011 (the 2012 report will be released in May), nearly a third of Colorado visitors cited “historic places” as one of their “specific interests” in their trip.  Further, 75{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of those who were visiting Colorado not counting for skiing or outdoor recreation cited “historic places” as their reason for visiting.  And, interestingly, 11{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of visitors who came to Colorado on a ski trip also visited a historic site while here, which is also 1{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} more than ski vacationers who visited a spa while on their ski trip!  For more on the contribution of heritage tourism and historic preservation to the state’s economy, see the Colorado Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation’s new report, The Economic Power of Heritage and Place.

If you’re interested in visiting the historic sites around Colorado, whether you live here or far away, check out History and Heritage on the state’s official tourism website.  This handy guide can help you choose where to spend your tourism dollars, while learning and having fun in the process!

For more about the Colorado Tourism Office’s heritage tourism program, click here.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Capitol Dome Restoration

If you’ve been downtown recently you’ve probably noticed that the Colorado State Capitol Building’s dome is wrapped with scaffolding under a large white cover.  It’s all part of restoration work that is going on to help restore and stabilize the dome of Colorado’s most important building.  Funding for the project is coming from the State Historical Fund and the Share in the Care Campaign, a private entity working with the state to raise money for the restoration.  They are required to report quarterly to the Legislature’s Capitol Development Committee and Capitol Building Advisory Committee.  For information on why the dome restoration is so urgent, see the State Historical Fund’s Historic Structure Assessment for the dome.  The assessment was done in 2006, so every year that passes would find more advanced deterioration of the building, but happily, now something is being done to make sure our iconic golden dome will continue to stand proudly for many years to come (and also not risk masonry falling on passerbys’ heads!)

Colorado State Publications Blog

Paint Your House

Do you own an old house?  Do you want it to faithfully evoke the era in which it was built?  If yes, our library has a unexpectedly great resource – the Paint Your Vintage House workbook.  This was actually the workbook from a CU-Colorado Springs workshop, but you didn’t need to take the class to benefit from the ideas and guidance presented in this helpful resource.  You’ll find information on color theory, a list of what colors were popular in what historical periods, what colors to paint details and trim, color selection exercises, and much more.  There’s also some fun quizzes to help you discover not only what color is best for your house, but which color you’ll enjoy based on your own tastes and preferences.  Even if you don’t have an old house, the color theory and quizzes can help you decide what colors work best for you, no matter what your house’s age.  It’s all designed to help you make your home look its very best.  (And for more fun, you can print it out and color the illustrations)!
Colorado State Publications Blog

Denver's Civic Center

Exciting news for Denver:  Civic Center has been recommended by the U.S. Department of the Interior to become a National Historic Landmark!  This is a prestigious honor for historic sites in the U.S. – according to the official announcement, if designated, “Civic Center would join a list of some of the most iconic, treasured and historically significant spaces in the United States. Designation would place Civic Center alongside such sites as the Empire State Building, the Alamo and the Library of Congress.”  The National Park Service Advisory Board will consider the recommendation today, May 22.  To find a list of all NHLs by state, visit the National Park Service’s NHL page.

One of the very interesting historical aspects of Civic Center that not many people realize is that the entire area was once completely built up.  One of the gems in our library collection is On Colfax Avenue:  A Victorian Childhood, by Elizabeth Young (published by the Colorado Historical Society).  This fun memoir describes growing up in late-nineteenth century Denver.  The house that Elizabeth grew up in used to be on about the northwest edge of what is now Civic Center Park.  (Another Denver girl growing up in the same time period, Edwina Hume Fallis, also published her memoirs in the book When Denver and I Were YoungShe also grew up in what is now Civic Center, living at what would have been about 14th and Acoma.) 

Civic Center was envisioned by Mayor Robert Speer during the early twentieth century.  At that time, the “City Beautiful Movement” was sweeping the country.  Ignited by the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which created a model “White City,” cities across the nation sought to return to classical styles of architecture and rebuild their cities on European models.  Speer himself traveled around Europe gathering ideas to bring back to Denver. 

The Denver Public Library’s Western History and Genealogy Department has some terrific photos of Civic Center over the years, including photos of the buildings that stood there before being removed for construction of the park, and some eerie demolition photos

Civic Center, which includes the park in the center with the State Capitol to the east, the City and County building to the west, the Voorhies Memorial to the north, and the Greek Theater to the south, is a historic place that combines Colorado and Denver’s centers of government with classical architecture, artworks (including murals by Allen True), the Denver Public Library and Denver Art Museum, and much more.  The Park, though sometimes having a reputation as being sketchy, is brought to life by summer festivals and other events that make this a most historic part of Denver.