It’s About Time column: ‘Stella’ is going to get some attention
This is the second and last interview with 114-year-old Stella.
Me: Stella, thanks for granting me one more interview. You mentioned last time that you felt you were in danger. Would you please go on with what you meant?
Stella: As long as people live in a home, they keep the place livable. When people move out and a place is empty, things starts happening that aren’t good. The final result is the house eventually becomes a ruin because nobody is around to pay attention to things that need fixing.
Me: But you haven’t been left alone. We work here, and many people come to visit.
Stella: Yes, but it’s not the same as if you lived here. My walls have heard how you are looking for another place because you’ve run out of space. Are you going to abandon me? Sell me to the person with the highest offer?
Me: No. No. Sure we need more space, but if our offices and archives move we will still keep you. As a matter of fact, I have some good news. A few days ago the historical society received a grant from the Colorado Historical Society. We now have money to hire an historic architect who, with the help of a structural engineer, will do a historic structure assessment.
Stella: And just what will that do for me?
Me: It means that one of the best historic architects around will do a thorough exam. Then we’ll know all the repairs that need to be addressed, what the priorities are, and how much it will cost. It’s the first step toward renovating or restoring a historic property. We know some of it, but we really want an expert to help us do it right.
Stella: Sounds all well and good. But just where will you get the money to do the actual work?
Me: Funding will come from grants from foundations that support historic preservation and capital projects. The community will need to step up to the plate because some of the grants will need matching funds. Before granting money, the funders want to know there’s local community support.
Stella: Are the Glenwood Springs people ready to help you out? What’s in it for them?
Me: Yes, I think so. The city of Glenwood Springs and Garfield County have helped us keep history alive. And there are citizens who dig deep to help out. In fact, in the last two months three people have donated almost $5,000 to help us out with your roof. After the historic assessment, our job is to show our plans in well-thought-out stages, along with the money we need to raise to get the job done. The goal is to get you back to your former glory. A museum like you is called a period house. When people step into your parlor they’ll see what you were like as a young whippersnapper in 1905.
Me: Yes, really. It will showcase what a home — you — looked like by bringing history alive from that time period; a proud centerpiece adding to Glenwood’s rich history, by telling its story with your presence … the essence of who you are, and what Glenwood was like in 1905.
Stella: I’m speechless.
Me: It is a daunting task, but I know it can be done. People who come to Glenwood want to soak up its past. People who visit us like our downtown historic guide so much we had to reprint it this summer (with help from both the city of Glenwood Springs and the Chamber Resort Association’s Visit Glenwood Springs’ tourism promotion fund).
My experience tells me that people who live here and love Glenwood will invest on our history for this important project: That of taking care of you.
Stella: I think I deserve this attention. After all, I’m an officially designated local landmark.
Bill Kight is the executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and writes a monthly column about history. He can be reached at 970-945-4448.
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