2 break-ins at historic Bancroft cabin - discouraging for History Center
March 7 update: A slab of plywood, which had been screwed in place over the front door to the historic Garvin Cabin after burglars gained access that way in mid-February, was removed by Colorado Springs Parks and the front door secured in early March.
The plywood installation had originally been credited to Parks, which had put burglary-preventive plexiglass over the cabin windows around the same time. However, Kurt Schroeder, the department's maintenance director, denied this.
So the plywood perpetrator remains a mystery - although if it hadn't been done, the front door would have remained unsecured for roughly two weeks after the break- in. The original story below has been updated, as needed.
According to Colorado Springs Police, the cabin had been broken into twice in the last half-year, with windows shattered both times.
Police believe that trespassers slept overnight in the cabin one or more nights, staying warm with blankets that were part of an old-time display created by Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) volunteers.
However, because of the plywood, no one from OCCHS was able to get inside for about two weeks to take an inventory of what might have been stolen or wrecked. According to Suzanne Schorsch, OCCHS treasurer, OCCHS items there included stocks of modern books about local history, a non-working fireplace, old children's toys and copies of decades-old photos.
The Westside Pioneer left e-mail and phone messages with Schroeder on the day this story broke (Feb. 22). He did not reply until Feb. 27. He said at that time he would have an employee go to the cabin, check the front door lock and contact the History Center. Schorsch said this happened Feb. 28; she was told that the city plans to repair the door and then "get back to me." March 7 update: This did occur, Schorsch said.
The first break-in occurred last fall, when the rear window was broken and burglars managed to displace the grate behind it, he said. The grate was secured afterwards. The broken window was not fixed right away.
In the recent break-in, Sandoval's understanding is that some trash was left behind, “as usual,” but not extensive or overly disgusting. “We found food boxes and cartons, but no sleeping bags,” he said. “I think it was a very short-term thing.”
In any case, no arrests have been made in either break-in, nor any suspects identified.
Built in 1859 - the year Colorado City was founded - the cabin is the only complete building left from that era. Still intact, it spent a year at the Colorado Statehouse for the gold-rush centennial of 1959 and is used annually by OCCHS volunteers for historical education efforts during the three-day Territory Days festival over Memorial Day weekend and occasionally for other events.
The cabin condition - combined with the plywood over the front - infuriated representatives of both the OCCHS and Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), which has previously fundraised thousands of dollars for park improvements.
“What does it say about a city when one of its most historic buildings is covered with plywood?” Schorsch asked. “It looks like it's been condemned.”
Dave Brackett, OCCF president and founder of three Old Colorado City restaurants, criticized the “desecration” of the cabin by
Both leaders identified the cabin break-ins as yet another blow by vagrants against an area that's had to fight for years to change its one-time reputation as a run- down part of the city.
Over the past several years, the OCCHS - which receives no government funding - has had to redo the entrance to its History Center at 1 S. 24th St. (making it more visible) and take out much of its exterior landscaping because of people using those locations as toilets.
Schorsch said that visitor counts at the center, which offers a bookstore and museum, have dropped off noticeably this winter. “The people that come in say the Westside isn't a place where people want to go
In an e-mail Brackett sent to numerous local business and neighborhood leaders, he lumped the cabin issue with various other vagrancy problems that are afflicting Old Colorado City. He posed the question: “What credible National Historic District has buildings burned, their historical society used as an outhouse, their bike paths and byways abused as camping areas, open dumping areas, and places where trash and human excrement are wantonly dropped in the public waterway?”
Schorsch said she has additional concerns that she plans to contact Parks about. These involve the cabin's lack of working heat or electricity (this was so even before the break-ins), along with the issues of plywood and plexiglass being historically incompatible. “We will be contacting them,” she said. “We want to know what it will be like for Territory Days.” March 7 update: Electric power has now been restored, Schorsch said.
The OCCHS has led (and helped pay for) past efforts by the city on behalf of the cabin. These included a restoration in 2002 and the placement of new pavers and a stone monument to coincide with Colorado City's sesquicentennial celebration in 2009.
Other than a handicapped ramp up to its entrance platform, the cabin is not targeted for upgrades in the Bancroft "master plan" that was approved by the City Parks Board in May 2017. That action came in the wake of the Bancroft bandshell fire, which was started when someone (still unknown) set trash ablaze on the stage late on a cold night the previous January. The bandshell has since been repaired, but no definite schedule has been announced yet for other master-plan work.
Westside Pioneer article