Our History: Big 1950s Glenwood projects echoed in 2017
Looking back at archived Glenwood Posts from the 1950s, familiar headlines appeared. Despite the 60 years difference, our community seems to go through similar cycles of growing pains, change and rebirth. The following is a sampling of familiar spaces and changes.
On Nov. 2, 1951, Bullock’s department store opened its location at the corner of Grand Avenue and 8th Street in the former Glenwood Hotel spot. The hotel, where Doc Holliday infamously died, had burned down in 1945.
The store was billed in the Post as “one of the most modernistic stores on the Western Slope.” The store’s interior was decorated in pastel pink, green and rose, and dressing rooms featured three-way mirrors. The display cases were finished in black, which was “the latest thing in background decorating,” according to the Post.
Almost a full page of advertisements in the Post was devoted to businesses that worked on the shop’s construction, congratulating Bullock’s on the opening.
“We congratulate Mr. Bullock on his vision and foresight and we are happy to have assisted Bullock’s Department Store by application of the tar and gravel roof,” read an advertisement from Grand Mesa Roofing Co.
Part of the building was also planned to be used as rental space. Hair stylist Clair Tuttle operated out of a spot on Eighth Street. The basement was also planned to be rented out.
In present day, the just-reincarnated Bullock’s will soon feature in its basement a Doc Holliday museum, paying homage to the building’s roots.
“It is a great improvement to Glenwood’s business district and reflects confidence in future growth of this trade area,” the Post read in 1951.
With the present-day bridge detour looming, Bullock’s remains hopeful and optimistic on the prosperity of downtown Glenwood.
“I think Glenwood is on fire right now; we have great restaurants, and it’s good to see more shops opening up,” Billy Bullock told the Post Independent in the July 2, 2017, issue.
Grand Avenue bridge
The current Grand Avenue bridge was started and completed in 1953. On March 17, the Colorado State Highway department opened up construction bids for the bridge. Less than a month later, on April 2, it was announced Gardner Construction won the bid at $363,672.50.
“It is now evident that Glenwood Springs will have, at long last, a new bridge spanning the Colorado river on Grand Avenue,” the March 19, 1953, issue of the Glenwood Post read.
The article reported that the new Grand Avenue bridge would replace the “crooked” bridge that had been in place for over 50 years, which had become “precariously outmoded as the heavily loaded semi-trailer trucks and constant automobile traffic replaced the ‘horse and buggy’ traffic it was originally constructed for.”
The article went on to say that the new bridge will be longer and “considerably wider, too, having a 30-foot wide roadway with two very wide 15-foot traffic lanes and a 5-foot wide foot traffic walk on both sides of it.”
In 2017, according to a fact sheet by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Grand Avenue bridge is considered “functionally obsolete” by the National Bridge Inventory.
Construction of the 1953 bridge began in early June soon after the Pitkin Avenue detour bridge was complete.
The new Grand Avenue bridge was completed roughly five months later and dedicated on Nov. 21. “Pioneer resident” Eleanor Malaby cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, and took the first passenger ride across the new bridge. State Rep. John Vanderhoof was master of ceremonies.
Garfield County High School
Soon after the bridge’s dedication, the new Garfield County High School was dedicated on Nov. 30, 1953. The school was funded by the passing of a $670,000 bond issue in May 1951. Construction began in 1952. The school welcomed its first class at the start of the 1954-55 school year.
One of the incentives listed in a 1951 edition of the Glenwood Post for constructing a new high school would be to have adequate gymnasium and auditorium space for the basketball team and marching band.
“The grade school basketball floor space is not regulation size, which is detrimental to a Class A high school basketball program,” an opinion piece read in the Glenwood Post.
The new school came with a new gymnasium that provided “a perfect view of the entire regulation playing court from every seat,” according to a Post article previewing the first game to be held there — the Glenwood Demons versus the Grand Junction Tigers on Dec. 11, 1953.
That building is now Glenwood Springs Elementary School — which opens this fall after a remodeling project worth about $30 million, financed by a bond issue and a $9 million state grant.
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After bowing out of the 3A state soccer playoffs in the quarterfinals and semifinals the past two seasons, the Roaring Fork Rams finally get their shot at a state title on Saturday.