In 4th year of festival fundraising, Rock Ledge greenhouse plan nears fruitionSept. 5, 2018
Sept. 14-16 will mark the fourth straight year that the Holly Berry Folk Art Festival will raise money for a Rock Ledge Ranch greenhouse, and organizer Kathy Read hopes this will be the one that propels the historically styled design into the construction phase.
“I cannot wait; it will be so awesome,” enthused Read, who owns the Holly Berry House needlepoint store in Old Colorado City. The plan is for the greenhouse to
“We can use it to teach about original types of horticulture. It will be an unbelievable asset for the community,” Read said.
Festival times are Sept. 14 from noon to 6 p.m., Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The $6 entry fee is good all three days.
Following a long-time format, the event will feature roughly 160 juried-in artisans and crafters from Colorado and surrounding states. To sell their wares, they rent space inside large tents all three days on the Rock Ledge grounds.
The 230-acre, city-owned ranch is a national historic site in the southeast part of the Garden of the Gods, next to 30th Street. Its parking-lot access is from Gateway Road. Now in its 40th year (33rd at the ranch), the festival has raised well over a million dollars for the facility, spearheading expenditures for interior and exterior restorations of the two historic houses and a working windmill.
One of the houses, the Rock Ledge House, was built around 1880 by the Chambers family. Between then and about 1900, the Chambers' ranch/farm grew
Being planned with Colorado Springs Parks and the ranch's volunteer Living History Association (LHA), the new greenhouse is to be located just southwest of the house, on roughly the same spot as the one the Chambers had.
But on certain aspects of the project, some historic license is proving necessary. For example, it will be steam-heated, using an underground boiler that's powered by natural gas. The Chambers' version was also steam-heated, but coal was the source.
In addition, “we do not know how big the original greenhouse was, as we have not been able to find specific records regarding the Chambers greenhouse,” said Ranch Manager Andy Morris. The new greenhouse has been set at 30 by 20 feet, which appears to be at least similar to what was there in the 1800s.
The design itself is based on the most revealing photo from the Chambers era, showing a simple, rectangular building with a peaked roof, so the new model will be “historically accurate,” Read said. She did not dispute the idea that the Chambers in their day would have appreciated having the thicker modern glass, resistant to hail damage, which is in the plans as well.
No timetable has been set for construction. “I am reluctant to say,” responded Morris, when asked that question. “There are, of course, several parts involved with this. The most important part being the fundraising component, and the LHA is working on that right now.”
The overall construction cost is estimated at about $300,000. Festival proceeds since 2015 have brought in well over $60,000 - not counting the $20,000 that was spent on the design work. “This has been a real grassroots effort,” Read summarized.
Moreover, hundreds of ranch memberships have been sold to festival attendees in recent years, and those dollar amounts can be added to the overall greenhouse tally, she said.
Read has her fingers crossed for good weather at this year's festival. That could lift the budget close to a “beautiful, round number,” she said, such as $100,000. Even a number close to that would be impressive enough to be used as matching funds for grants that could put the project over the finish line. “There are lots of them we can apply for,” she said. “We need to get some grant-writing going.”
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