Bancroft without cabin? Historical Society irate at the thought

       An imagined overhead view of a revised Bancroft Park layout has been prominently displayed at both park fundraisers this year , including the three-hour Harvest in the Park Sept. 29.

Constructed in Colorado City's first year of existence (1859), the Garvin Cabin was last restored in 2002, with the help of the Old Colorado City Historical Society. It is seen on a recent sunny morning from across Colorado Avenue near the pedestrian crossing at Colbrunn Court.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But it was only this week that the architectural rendering became a hot topic, when it was noticed that it showed a potential layout of Bancroft Park without the Garvin Cabin.
       Asked for a reaction, Sharon Swint, president of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), polled her board and got unanimous opposition to the idea. And Dave Hughes, a co-founder of the society, pledged that if the cabin - or even any of the historical monuments around it - were taken from the park he would fly to Washington, D.C., “on my own nickel” and seek to have Old Colorado City's historic district designation revoked.
       The rendering was drawn by local architect John Olson for the Old Colorado City Foundation (OCCF), which is headed by local civic and business leaders. Formed earlier this year as a charitable nonprofit, the OCCF has been looking for ways to upgrade Bancroft. (See story, Page 1.)
       Asked about the no-cabin idea after Harvest in the Park, OCCF board member Dave Van Ness sought to calm the waters. “As far as the board is concerned, it is not even a possibility,” he said. “There's absolutely no story about moving the cabin.”
       Even if the OCCF did like the idea, he added, it would need buy-in from local “stakeholders” and to go through three public meetings.
       The only reason the rendering has been displayed at the events was because the OCCF “wanted to have something to show people,” Van Ness said. “John [Olson]'s not even on the board. We just invited him to give us ideas.” He added that although John's work is appreciated, the OCCF has been looking for another company that might offer different ideas.
       Built in 1859, the year Colorado City was founded, Garvin Cabin is the only complete building left from the town's earliest era. The cabin was not at its current location then - Bancroft would not even become a park until the 1900s - and has had two other homes. One was the Broadmoor golf course from 1929 to 1959; the other was the Colorado Statehouse for the gold-rush centennial in 1959. It was finally donated to Colorado Springs by the Broadmoor's Thayer Tutt and delivered to its current resting place in 1961.
       After coming together in the 1980s, the OCCHS assisted the city in organizing a major restoration of the cabin in 2002 and also oversaw the placement beside the cabin of new pavers and a stone monument to coincide with Colorado City's sesquicentennial celebration in 2009.
       Van Ness further noted that pros and cons on relocating the cabin are probably moot points. He quoted a local contractor who was involved in the 2002 project - in which the cabin had to be jacked up to improve its foundation - as saying “there is no way in hell we could move it.”
       Interviewed during Harvest, Olson said his thinking was to “start a discussion” about the park's future. He elaborated in an e-mail that the cabin “takes away from” the “symmetrical/formal layout” of Bancroft and it ought to be moved somewhere else in Old Colorado City where it could still be “highly visible.”
       “ 'Symmetrical/formal layout'?” Swint e-mailed. “We are talking about a historic building and a family-friendly park, not a formal area. Sometimes history is messy. Lots of historic buildings don't fit into a 'new' area of town, but that doesn't mean they should be removed. We are OLD TOWN. I'd hate for people to show up here expecting to see history and have nothing visible.”

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