Leak threatens thousands of photographs from Glenwood Springs history
“We’re lucky. We caught it in time,” Bill Kight of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society said of a leak in the photo archive room at the Frontier Museum.
Around mid-February, at the start of the winter freeze-thaw cycle, museum staff discovered water coming in from the ceiling of what used to be the building’s garage. It’s now the home of more than 6,000 photographs of Glenwood Springs history.
“I call them priceless because we would never be able to replace them,” Kight said.
The price tag for the repairs is far beyond what the small nonprofit can afford: $5,860.
None of the photographs have been damaged, Kight said, and with the snow melted, the leak has stopped, for now. But Kight is worried about summer rains.
“If it rains, we’ll have to put the buckets back out here. If it rains a lot, we could be in trouble again,” he said.
The photos cover much of Glenwood Springs’ early days, and only a third have been digitized.
“We have a lot of collections of Glenwood’s history here that we definitely don’t want to be destroyed,” Kight said. “We owe it to Glenwood to get this place fixed up right, to be proud of what we have here,” Kight said.
Kight has requested $5,000, the maximum payout, from Garfield County’s discretionary grant fund. The county commissioners are scheduled to review and decide on the grant requests at their Monday meeting.
The Historical Society also recently paid $2,000 to write a grant for a Historic Structure Assessment from the state, which could make the museum eligible for a grant for other repairs to the house at 1001 Colorado Ave., built in 1905, that now holds the museum.
Both the foundation and the roof need work, Kight said, but he’s not sure which needs to be repaired first.
“We are spending $2,000 that we didn’t really have to hire a grant writer to try to get historic assessment of that whole building with the Colorado Historic Fund,” Kight told the commissioners May 6.
If the grant funding comes through, Kight said they may be able to fix the roof. But that could take months.
“[The archive leak] can’t really wait. I don’t want to see the thunderstorms this summer to come in and do damage to those photos,” Kight said.
The photos are a resource for the community, and Kight makes sure the photos are available to those who want them.
A lot of the requests for photos come from local businesses that want to hang pictures of what the town looked like in decades past.
Anytime Kight publicizes what he’s doing, he receives a lot of comments.
After writing a column about the Naval hospital that set up in the Hotel Colorado during World War II, he received a lot of feedback — including the story of Dorothy Bale, a Glenwood native who worked as a typist at the hotel and moved away after marrying a sailor who she met at the hospital. She was honored as the oldest employee of Arby’s in January at age 94.
“These stories would be hidden from people,” Kight said. “The stories that are held in the newspaper archives, and in the photos, are worth keeping.”
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