Opinion: Privately owned buildings are bulldozer bait | Columns

Greg Stevens







John Hazlehurst


Twenty decades back an mysterious amount popped up on my pretty new, incredibly great and then exceptional small machine identified as a mobile cellphone. I answered — regional figures were always area, and spam phone calls weren’t a point.

Introducing himself, the caller experienced a unusual proposition. “I browse your piece in the [Business Journal’s sister publication the Colorado Springs] Impartial about the Burns [Theatre],” he reported, “and I have something you should have.” 

Sounded intriguing — so I gave him my address and he confirmed up a number of hrs afterwards. He had a gigantic, dilapidated hanging lamp that had been produced from a stained glass sign that experienced hung more than the ticket booth at the Burns. 

“I thought possibly you could restore it as a indication, or take care of it up and hang it up in your household,” he mentioned. “I never have any room for it.”

So I took it with many thanks, place it in the basement and there it sat for virtually 20 several years — until finally we embarked on a further endeavor to declutter our ancient household.

Honoring my kind-of motivation two many years before, I hauled the once-and-future indication to Linda “The Glassy Lady” for restoration. She did an awesome job — it was breathtakingly wonderful. We considered about hanging it on our cluttered partitions, but it was significant, fragile and as well susceptible to our leaping, roughhousing younger dog. It was normally destined for the Pioneers Museum, so I schlepped it over earlier this week.

They ended up delighted to have it, and I was delighted to give it. Our metropolis-owned heritage museum is an extraordinary asset to the community, free to all comers, unpretentious, enjoyable and endlessly fascinating. The museum’s main intent: to make a long lasting connection to the Pikes Peak area by preserving and sharing our cultural heritage.

The resplendent Burns grew to become the beloved Main 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 owners of the constructing, who refused to fund an comprehensive renovation, or the equally shortsighted elected officials who stood passively by, but there’s a further unacknowledged perpetrator.

Our town has thrived for 15 a long time simply because it was conceived and devoted to the premise that (virtually) all progress is excellent. If you possess a making, you have the proper to tear it down, substitute it or go away it vacant. Private house is just that. Contrary to Denver, our metropolis government are not able to adversely landmark a constructing — in fact, the proprietor of a building simply cannot inquire the town for landmark standing. That means that every privately owned setting up in the city is prospective bulldozer bait. Community, condition or national historic register listings may perhaps verify historic standing, but such listings do not avoid current or upcoming owners from tearing them down. Households in just the North Finish Historic District are effectively guarded, but similar residences on the Westside are not.

The inherent dynamism, optimism and generally explosive mother nature of advancement in Colorado Springs usually means that no properties are sacrosanct. Look at the City Auditorium, which town officers refused to sustain or renovate for many years. Inspite of our community’s passion for the beautiful previous pile, it could have inevitably fallen to the wrecker’s ball devoid of the Colorado Springs Conservatory’s Linda Weise and her ongoing restoration attempts. Take into account also the Union Printer’s House, ordered by a benevolent coalition of rich regional residents who purpose to protect and revivify that spectacular campus. 

Our philanthropic and small business communities have become significantly additional attuned to preservation in latest decades, but we have to have a landmark ordinance that empowers house owners. And yeah, I have obtained a pet in this battle — our 1899 Westside home. Landmarking it would maintain and secure it, even while it may possibly diminish its benefit for foreseeable future proprietors. 

Individuals of us who bear in mind the Burns, The Antlers lodge (the one particular torn down in 1964), and dozens of other properties that fell in the city’s mid-20th century Demolition Derby (AKA City Renewal) are dying off, and hope that long run generations will treasure the designed landscape of the earlier. 

Just now, sitting down at my desk at dwelling seeking to figure out a fantastic wander-off for this column, a friend posted the method for the opening of the new County Courthouse (now property to the Pioneers Museum), dated Could 16, 1903. It is in the museum’s selection.

The initially speaker outlined was Choose Louis Cunningham of the Prison Court, who had most likely taken the trolley Downtown from his spacious new Westside dwelling exactly where I now sit. Do I consider in ghosts? Maybe now…

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