On Friday, Oct. 18, State Plan Coordinator Kimball Banks and team visited Trinidad to host a meeting at the City Hall council chambers, the purpose of which being to gather community input on success stories surrounding local historic preservation as well as pose challenges the town faces in the way of moving forward with preservation efforts.
History Colorado’s State Historic Preservation office is preparing a plan to guide preservation efforts statewide for the next 10 years.
“We need the diverse perspectives of Coloradans on preservation success, issues, and objectives,” said Banks.
Several community members were in attendance, some of which were commissioners of the Trinidad Historic Preservation Commission and a city council member. Group participation was highly encouraged and gave everyone in the room a chance to voice their ideas and concerns.
“A lot of historic preservation has been done by private individuals and that’s a great thing,” said city councilmember Karen Griego. “The building inspector and people in city hall understood that our building codes were totally against historic preservation so they’ve sort of adjusted those codes so it’d be easier because when you come to one of these buildings and try to bring it up to code, it can be expensive and that’s what stopped a lot.”
In addition to codes having been an issue in the past, other issues that stand in the way included building materials used at the time of original construction and it was stressed that education on how to handle such cases was needed.
“A huge problem I see is sandstone,” said Christopher Smith. “It’s everywhere and I can think of two historic churches that remain on the market just because the foundation is of a material that they chose to use back then and you can’t be sure that the foundation is what they left it to be and meant it to be 100 years later. If Trinidad were to be given an educational resource for properties in general, I think it should be dealing with sandstone.”
On the subject of education, another issue brought forward was the lack of understanding of the economic benefit historic preservation brings to a community.
“There’s also a lack of education to owners about the value of historic preservation,” said Trinidad Historic Preservation Commission board member Wayne Pritchard. “Even though we had a two or three day presentation about preservation that gave us a lot of information about the economic benefits of historic preservation, I think it needs to be an ongoing education process. We face a lot of people saying this is my property without realizing that we’re connected, especially downtown. It’s not necessarily that they’re the only one standing there. So we have an education gap.”
Banks responded by stating that education is a huge part of History Colorado’s goals and other team members actively took notes during the meeting to capture Trinidad’s highlighted needs.
While much of the meeting consisted of issues in need of being addressed, there were also moments that shone through as testaments to Trinidad’s success in dealing with historic preservation.
“The Century Building has been redone as well as Marty’s Feed Building and the owners took it upon themselves to do it,” said Trinidad Historic Preservation Commission board member Erin Ogletree. “Additionally, Space to Create will ultimately restore the façade of a whole city block on Main Street and that’s a demonstration project for the state.”
“Another success story for the city of Trinidad is the purchase of the Fox West Theater on a grant from History Colorado in December 2018. That’s a huge commitment to the history preservation of Trinidad,” said Chris Smith.
Colorado has so much rich history Banks stated on several occasions during the meeting and several Trinidad community members expressed their excitement that the state is actively trying to help ensure that history is preserved. The state preservation team’s last stop before setting out to create the plan will be in Breckenridge on November 14. More information on this study can be found on their website, historycolorado.org.