Colorado Preservation Inc., celebrated the “El Corazon de Trinidad Distinctive Commercial District” and recognized historical downtown Trinidad as being “saved” due to “a remarkable level of revitalization and renewed vitality over the past 5-7 years,” said the organization.
The official announcement was made Thursday, Jan. 30 as part of Colorado Preservation’s 2020 Saving Places Conference. Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico acted as the keynote speaker for the event, which added four locations across Colorado to the Most Endangered Places List. The Corazon de Trinidad district has been on the list since 2000. The district represents the “architecturally rich” area “made up of much of the central and southern downtown.”
Said Colorado Preservation, “The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and its initial period of development and prosperity from 1880-1920 left the city with a legacy of intact historic buildings, within their historic context, unparalleled in Colorado. The district reflects the extraordinary body of work created by legendary architects like Frank Edbrooke and Isaac Hamilton Rapp, as well as the efforts of ethnically diverse, pioneering retail entrepreneurs and merchants, including the community’s small but influential Jewish community.”
Colorado Preservation said they decided to list the district as one of Colorado’s most endangered places in 2000, because it “reflected the declining fortunes of many of the state’s downtowns at the time.”
“Since that time, the City of Trinidad, the Trinidad-Las Animas Economic Development Council, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Creative Industries and other groups have worked very hard to revitalize the district and make it the lively and entertaining heart of the community it has become,” wrote Colorado Preservation.
Colorado Preservation Endangered Places Program Director Kim Grant explained that while the process took a little longer in Trinidad than other communities, his organization was excited to recognize the community and the effort put forth.
“It’s recognition that a lot of work has been done and has taken hold and the community had decided these buildings have a role to play in the future,” said Grant. “A lot of credit goes to the local community there in Trinidad. Our role is to provide recognition. We feel a lot of pride getting to announce a place as ‘saved,’ where we are not losing them. We hope that pride is echoed in the community. Each situation is different, sometimes it’s just one building and sometimes it’s several buildings like in Trinidad. So, it’s a great achievement to get a place to that point, because unfortunately we also know they can’t all be museums and we can’t save them all.”
This year Antelope Springs Methodist Episcopal Church in Morgan County, Isis Theatre in Teller County, the East Portal Camp Cabins in Gilpin County and the Southern Ute Boarding School Campus in La Plata County were added to the Most Endangered Places in Colorado List.
Trinidad Mayor Phil Rico attended the conference and was scheduled to speak to the Denver crowd of more than 600, yet a late cancellation by a state legislator caused the organization to ask Rico to serve as the day’s keynote speaker.
“It was a good opportunity to let these people know where we’ve come from and what we have done,” said Rico in a phone call from the convention after his speech. “There were 600 people in the audience from Colorado and around the state. So, it has been a good opportunity to promote Trinidad and draw inspiration from other people doing things as well.”
Rico was asked to think back to 2000, when the Corazon de Trinidad District was first listed. “In 2000 things were rough. It was a rough time for Trinidad and even going up to 2008 things were still pretty ugly. But, since then, I can say we’ve really been working hard to revitalize that area and other areas of Trinidad through the combination of public and private investment,” said Rico.
“Now, in the last few years we’ve seen the Space to Create project start to come to fruition. And then the cannabis owners have renovated a lot of the buildings downtown and other places. Now we have Fisher’s Peak and the progress going there. There are some pretty major things going on in Trinidad. We just want to keep Trinidad moving forward and continue with the momentum we have.”
Rico said he told the crowd that he believed strongly in public and private partnerships.
Said Rico, “For any community that is trying to move forward the best progress, I believe, is made through public and private partnerships. We have that public money we put forward and Jay (Cimino) has spent several million and Dana Crawford has bought some buildings and the cannabis industry has put their money in. Private people have put money into the community and as a city I think we have looked at different ways we can try to help.”
Moving on to bring attention to Fisher’s Peak, Rico said he also reminded the conference about the growing importance of saving “open space” as well.
“There are open spaces that need to be saved as well,” said Rico. “We will have a number of people moving into the state in the next 20 years and that will put a lot of stress on the open space we so love in Colorado. Whether it’s saving these areas as public spaces like Fisher’s Peak, or through converting them to private ownership — whatever. We’ve now taken steps to save open space and we recognize that this creates quality of life for us. So, it’s all very interwoven.”