Church earns historic designation
For boosters of Glenwood Springs’ historical landmark program, First Presbyterian Church was heaven-sent.The church is the first private structure to receive designation under the program, following City Council’s action Thursday night. Historic preservation advocates hope the move will help inspire other property owners to seek the same designation.There’s no questioning the historical importance of the church, at 1016 Cooper Ave. It is the oldest church building in Glenwood, having been built in 1887. Two sitting presidents have worshiped there – Benjamin Harrison in 1891 and Teddy Roosevelt in 1905.Walter Devereux, instrumental in the development of the Hot Springs Pool, city hydroelectric plant and Hotel Colorado, contributed to the First Presbyterian’s construction and was a continuing donor to the church.Oscar McCollum, a church member who served six years on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission before stepping down in January, described the building’s architectural style as “eclectic.””It looks very much like other church buildings in Colorado that were built around the same time,” he said.It has undergone expansion, renovation and foundation work over the years, but McCollum said its original character remains, and the original pulpit is still being used.The church holds a little more than 100 people, he said. Glenwood’s historical landmark program is separate from similar state and federal programs, and some Glenwood buildings, such as the Hotel Colorado, have designations at other levels. Gretchen Ricehill, a city planner, said the national historical designation criteria can be more stringent and don’t always address what communities consider to be historically important.Glenwood’s program went into effect in 1999. Besides the church, the only other sites to receive the local designation so far are the Linwood Cemetery where gunslinger Doc Holliday is believed to be buried, and the old Cardiff schoolhouse.McCollum said there are about 400 historic homes in Glenwood, and the Historic Preservation Commission hopes to see their owners apply for designation as well.Ricehill shares that hope.”A part of it is educating the local property owners to the significance of the history of their own properties and their connection to the overall history of Glenwood Springs,” she said.It’s also a matter of making people aware of the existence of a local program, and that their properties may qualify, she said.Designated properties are eligible to have their city property taxes waived each year. In return, the property owners agree to make alterations to the exterior in a historically appropriate fashion as long as they want to keep the designation.The goal is for the city to be a source of advice for participating property owners during renovations, said Cindy Hines, director of the Frontier Historical Museum and a nonvoting member of the Historic Preservation Commission.Participation in the program is at the discretion of property owners. Hines said the commission is approaching other property owners in hopes of getting more to join the program this year. “Our focus is that it’s an honor to be designated,” she said.Meanwhile, the Frontier Historical Society also is working on redesigning the trailhead at the bottom of one of the current landmarks, Linwood Cemetery. Hines said some of the plans include leveling the ground, putting down flagstone, installing low-level lighting, building a small deck over the 12th Street ditch and installing new signs.The local Elks Lodge has volunteered to do all the labor and the city is being asked to extend utilities to the site.
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