Rock Ledge groups move into room at West Center


Ron Wright, president of the Rock Ledge Ranch Living History Association, is joined by Elizabeth Barber (far left), ranch interpreter; and Natalie Dale, Jamie Bell and Kellie Bell of the Clothing Library.
Westside Pioneer photo
The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site now has a remote location. City Parks has provided a former classroom in the new West Center at the former Buena Vista school, off 17th and Bijou streets, for the ranch's volunteer Living History Association (LHA) and for storage of the period clothing worn by its roughly 30 adult docents and 75 junior docents.
       Located in what used to be the school's west wing, the site is called the Living History and Clothing Library. Visitors will see a 27-by-27-foot room containing 12 movable clothing racks, with one corner set aside for an LHA desk and phone.
       LHA President Ron Wright doesn't mind if the office doesn't look like some executive suite. He's just grateful for the space. “The LHA has never had an office,” he said. “Every president and every board of directors worked from home. Now we have a place to keep our things and be organized.”
       As for the clothes, most of them handmade to match the 1880s era of Rock Ledge, they had been “jammed into” a 10-by-10-foot space on the third floor of the ranch's Orchard House for several years, Wright said. So when the structure's multi-year restoration project was completed about two years ago, a new place for the clothing library was sought to allow full use of the Orchard House for tours. Accessibility was a factor too. With the house's steep, narrow, old-fashioned stairs, bringing clothing to and from the third floor meant a lot of climbing for a great many volunteers.
       Wright said Parks Director Paul Butcher proposed using the room at West, “and I jumped at it.”
       Because it's a volunteer effort, the office/library will not necessarily keep regular hours.
       The Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site is off Gateway Road and 30th Street.
       The remote-site possibility came about when City Parks took ownership of the Buena Vista property in a deal with School District 11 in June. The West community center had been in a smaller space in the West Middle School.
       The main office for the center, which is open five days a week, is at the rear of Buena Vista's west wing, where there's a handicapped ramp.
       As part of a major building reutilization effort, the district closed Buena Vista as a school, with its Montessori students slated to go to a new site at the former Washington school and non-Montessori to the new West Elementary.

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