Is part of Glenwood Springs Elementary history buried on the grounds?
Glenwood Springs Elementary School, poised for a complete renovation that will make it modern, is often described as historic.
But as the $29 million construction project begins, school supporters are faced with a mystery of where, exactly, to find a bit of the school’s history.
They believe that an 88-year-old time capsule lies between two elm trees on the school grounds. Somewhere.
That’s what the late Patsy Guadnola, who attended GSES herself before teaching music in town for 51 years, told teacher Barb Brown and her class.
“We do different projects every year, but one year I had a student who wanted to study the history of the school,” Brown said. “And I thought, ‘Great, well, we’ll need some contacts,’ and of course Patsy’s name came up.”
Guadnola initially did not want to visit the class because of her age, but agreed to answer questions over the phone. She told the class that in 1928, when she was in grade school, they planted trees in between the Bolitho building, added in 1968, and the main building, and put a time capsule in the ground along with a tree.
She remembers the school superintendent lowering her 5-year-old self into the hole so she could leave the capsule, according to a 2006 article in the Post Independent. The school had first-graders plant a tree on Arbor Day every year.
At the time, Brown found the notion interesting, but did not take it upon herself to dig up the capsule because she thought that it should stay there.
As the renovations at Glenwood Springs Elementary School begin this summer, Brown and some of the other faculty members are jumping at the opportunity to uncover the capsule.
“We don’t have concrete verification of the existence,” Brown said. “You kind of wish there was a definite record, but talking to other people and teachers, I realized that a lot of people have heard about it.”
The trees at the school do line up with Guadnola’s story.
“You can tell which trees it is. The ones in the courtyard were planted in the ‘80s; they’re about 30 years old. But the ones in the front of the building are definitely about 90 years old, which totally makes sense,” Brown said.
A picture from the late 1920s in the school office shows the building and the trees as saplings out front.
Construction plans call for removal of those trees, with the new building extending out into that space.
A group of teachers got together and decided that they would like to find the time capsule themselves instead of waiting for the construction workers to find it, which would have been less meaningful.
Last Friday, many of the teachers who were working brought their students to try to help find the capsule. Many ran around with shovels digging holes.
One local mom, Priska Berkheimer, provided a metal detector to aid the search. She owns a tree business and told Brown that it would likely be difficult to retrieve the time capsule with shovels alone.
“We’re going to hold off on more digging until we actually deconstruct the Bolitho building and remove the trees,” Berkheimer said. “That’s the latest plan. We’ll wait until the site becomes more accessible.”
Building plans show that the trees will be taken down either late June or early July. The construction workers are aware of the search, and Brown has thought about opening the project to more residents interested in helping.
“We’re so excited because we really think it’s there,” Brown said. “And if we don’t find it before they build over it — forget it. But many of us really want to find it, so we’re taking this on.”
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.