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Cleared property, coming sale mark end to long saga of Arveson Shrine

In August 2015, two and a half years after the departure of the last person involved with the Arveson Shrine on West Pikes Peak Avenue, several vestiges remained, including the metal archway, the statue of Jesus Christ (left), the house (rear, mid-left, with a sign in the window saying it had been condemned) and the shrine itself (rear right). The worker in the photo was removing the rock facade from the concrete holding up an archway post. Now the entire archway structure has been removed (see photo below).
Westside Pioneer file photo
A new chapter - as yet unrevealed - is starting for the property that was known for nearly half a century as the Arveson Shrine.
       A contract offer has been accepted for the quarter-acre site (technically consisting of two parcels) at 3540 W. Pikes Peak Ave., according to real estate agent Colin Smith. He declined to reveal the sale price, buyer or date of closing.
       On the County Assessor's Office website, the market value of the two parcels combined totals just over $180,000, but that's including a $134,000 value for a “single family residence” that's no longer there.
       The now-vacant corner location at Pikes Peak and 36th Street is zoned R5, which would allow multifamily development.
       From 1969 until its sale in September 2016 to an area resident named Bryan Ketcham (for $40,000, according to County Assessor's Office records), it had been owned by the Rose Arveson Simmons Shrine, Inc.
       This name may be misleading, because the “corporation” essentially consisted of the two daughters of Rose Arveson, who believed her to be a saint after her death
A photo from this month (February 2017) shows the former Arveson Shrine property cleared of all structures except for the sign at far right (which was out of view in the photo above) that says "Welcome to all faiths." The corner lot is seen from Pikes Peak Avenue, with 36th Street in the background at lower left.
Westside Pioneer photo
in 1963. The daughters, Pauline and Dorothy, created an outdoor shrine on the property and opened it free to anyone seeking spiritual solace.
       According to previous interviews with neighbors, the site had gone downhill in recent years. Pauline died in 2008 and Dorothy in 2011. Bill Schwartz (unrelated), who had been a member of their corporation board, was still living in the single-family house in January 2013, when City Code Enforcement followed up on complaints - with nasty smells a big part of them - and found him sick and surrounded by dead and neglected animals. He died about two years later.
       After that, the house was condemned.
       An interview in spring 2016 with Colorado Springs Code Enforcement Officer Tom Wasinger reported an awkward legal situation, in which no one truly owned the property. The corporation had expired, and there was no identifiable next of kin. In the
This painting on wood, believed to be the likeness of Rose Arveson, was the featured element in the open-air shrine at 3540 W. Pikes Peak Ave. for about 45 years. It's gone now.
Westside Pioneer file photo
meantime, the city agency would check the property and cut the weeds occasionally, Wasinger said.
       Ketcham was able to obtain the property through a county tax sale (a process that includes paying back taxes). He has not responded to a letter that the Westside Pioneer mailed to him in early February, asking for an interview.
       As his roughly five months of ownership nears an end, Ketcham will be leaving a property that's cleared of all the buildings that had been on it, along with most of the trappings of the shrine - except for the sign by the uphill driveway from Pikes Peak Avenue that says “Welcome to all faiths.”
       During the shrine's active years, countless numbers of people visited, leaving behind handwritten prayers, appeals or messages. A tabloid in the 1980s quoted people claiming the site had produced miracles in their lives. A letter of support was even sent by Ronald Reagan when he was president.
       Multiple sources have told the story of the shrine, how Dorothy and Pauline insisted that roses laid on their mother's tomb had come back to life. A 1996 Denver West Word article stated that rose petals were stored on site and distributed free to people to help with their healing.
       The name, “Saint Rose Arveson Shrine” formerly appeared on a metal archway over the dirt driveway from Pikes Peak Avenue. Near it was a statue of Jesus Christ. A sign painted on a vertical board advised visitors that they were “welcome at all times” and that “electronic alarm systems tell us your presence and location” (though none were evident in 2013).
       The shrine was centered 100 or so feet up the driveway, around a large painting on wood of what was probably Rose Arveson. The painting stood behind plexiglass, above a gathering of faux flowers and ivy. Beside it was a plastic box where people would leave messages. In 2013, dozens of messages were in the box, one dating back as far as 1992.
       One message that was there in 2013 read: “Rick - AIDs - Please pray for a peaceful and comfortable passing.” Another asked for prayerful help in keeping someone from “the kids he is hanging with.”
       Previously, a double plaque had been on display, titled “Our Mother,” which gave a loving memoriam to the shrine's namesake. But the plaque was gone in 2013.
       Here is the initial part of the plaque wording: “Rose Ella Scott Arveson Simmons, November 8, 1897-August 18, 1963. So sweet like a rose she was - kind and innocent as the petals, graceful as the stems. The love and joy she gave to others were like the shimmering leaves, sparkling in the sunlight. Her love for God - beyond words or comprehension.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/19/17; Land: Development Issues)

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