Priscilla Mangnall

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November 8, 2012
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THE WAY WE WERE: My fascination with this old adobe building

I have to start this week's column by apologizing to my readers and as Helen Spehar would put it: "You really flubbed that one." Debbie Brockett corrected me. God bless her attention to detail and I really should have known better. The Post Office Book Store was NOT located on S. Fifth but on S. Fourth Street, behind the Canon Block. I will correct my story before it goes into my book, otherwise I will look the fool and unintentionally change the local history that I love so much.

Additionally, I wanted to mention that Evita Carpenter Schultz is back to her roots and lives on Glade Park with her husband, Jim. My sister, Becky, who was her good friend growing up reminded me that her brother, Terry, owned the Glade Park Store; Evita confirmed that he did, for five years to be exact.

I came across this photo of the adobe building on eBay. It, of course, piqued my interest because I remember it from when I was young. My Grandpa Milo and Grandma Fanch Brown owned a wonderful river rock home at 2865 US Hwy. 50. It was torn down when the highway was expanded. Milo had passed on by then and the state paid for her new house up the road from Belmont Drive. Daddy and his brother, Bill Brown, built houses on the back end of that property that faced B Road and I was 2 or 3 years old. Uranium Downs was just down the road and although we moved from that house, with Aunt Wilda and Uncle Bill still in their house and Grandma Fanch up the road on Belmont, that was my neighborhood.

I never really knew about that old adobe building that I saw crumbling away until I found the photo from the December 1959 Denver Post with the caption "Plans for Museum Revived." It goes on to read "History-minded residents of Mesa County hope to raise $20,000 to complete construction of this building near Grand Junction, Colo., intended for use as a museum. Relics of pioneer days in western Colorado will be housed in the building when it is finished." Well I'll be danged, I thought. I never knew.

I asked Michael Menard at the Loyd Files Research Library and he said he has a scrapbook that might have some information about it and he trotted it out for me. It was just what I needed to learn all about the adobe building, west of Uranium Downs, that kept rolling around in the back of my mind since childhood.

Let me back way up. As early as 1885, the founding fathers of Grand Junction realized the value of history and as was written at the time "in danger of being forgotten, or least, imperfectly remembered" so a Pioneer Society and Historical Society was formed by R.D. Mobley, J. Armitage Hall and O.D. Russell.

The first meeting was held at the Court House and Hall was elected chairman and J. Clayton Nichols, secretary. A Constitution and by-laws were drafted and a general invitation was extended to all settlers of Mesa County prior to July 4, 1882, to become members of the society. Out of this first attempt to preserve history, came the Mesa County Historical Society and the Museum of Western Colorado.

For the next 50 years, objects were saved and collected and languished somewhere. It was not until 1951 that those "history-minded" citizens got serious about finding a place to house these collections that the pioneers had left behind for posterity. By that time, Intermountain Memorial Park had been built on Orchard Mesa and the Memorial Museum Association was formed as a nonprofit with the corporate name of The Western Slope Museum Association.

What I have yet to find out is: What was this old structure with its 30-inch thick walls of handmade adobe brick built for in the first place? How did the Memorial Museum Association acquire it from the Veterans Park with a 99-year lease only to have the whole project scrapped in 1963?

David Bailey tells me the old pioneer artifacts that the Memorial Museum Association had stored to be placed in the new museum never made it to the Whitman School Building when a 49-year lease from School District 51 was signed in May of 1965. They had first looked at this sight in 1959 as a possible museum site to be open during the summer months. I don't know why this never happened until six years later.

For 15 years, with good intentions, the rejuvenated organization with new by-laws in hand stored the relics in barrels, considered joining up with the Mesa County Library to take over the old County Jail House on Eighth and White and lost the Harold Bryant painting collection, donated to the Museum Association by his wife, to a museum in Lubbock, Texas.

I'm not finished with this subject and I hope I hear from those of you who might know more than I do. I'll keep researching. I want to know who built the long gone adobe building. According to a newspaper article in the Loyd Files Library scrapbook, the Association abandoned the idea of salvaging the old adobe because it was not worth getting into a debate over ownership. That's why it just wasted away, the image I so vividly remember.

Like St. Joe's, it is physically gone but immortal. Everlasting life means its existence was important and is remembered. Let's talk about it.

Got a memory or picture to share? Call me at 970-260-5226, or email priscilla.mangnall@gmail.com.


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 8, 2012 03:35PM Published Nov 8, 2012 02:53PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.