Water getting into History Center; repair help sought

       To the casual eye, the former Baptist church at 1 S. 24th St. seems as solid and stately as it's ever been in its 123-year history.

Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) volunteers Tom Daniels (left) and Miki Knudson show how they mopped up after water washed down the stairs and into the History Center basement during the Aug. 14 rainstorm. Unless several thousand dollars in repairs occur, more flooding is likely. To donate, call the OCCHS at 636-1225.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The home of the Old Colorado City History Center since 1997, the building houses a museum and bookstore, hosts regular presentations and special events and has a basement full of documents, photos and other artifacts reflecting this area's past.
       But a closer look shows key structural problems - which became painfully clear during the hard rains this month. Although nothing irreplaceable was lost, gallons of water poured in, mainly because of the way the foundation has settled.
       “This settling has allowed water to flow toward the building instead of away,” emphasized Sharon Swint, president of the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), the all-volunteer group that owns and operates the center. “We are also looking at a canopy/cover for the basement stairs. Not having an adequate drain and no cover has caused water to enter under the present door.”
       The reported result after the heavy rain of Aug. 14 was standing water in four basement rooms.
       Miki Knudson, an archiving volunteer who happened to stop by on her way to an appointment, discovered the problem. She immediately got out a mop and bucket and set to work, soon to be joined by other volunteers. “I had on dress pants and heels, but I had no choice,” she said this week.
       The society, which receives no government funding (and was denied aid from the emergency flooding funds that went to Manitou), has asked the Westside Pioneer to help publicize its situation. A local business has offered to give $2,000 if other donations come in to match that amount, according to OCCHS Treasurer Suzanne Schorsch.
       The overall costs are not yet known, but preliminary contractor estimates indicate that just basic remedial work would eat up nearly half of the society's reserve fund of about $14,000, she said. And that doesn't include the most expensive fix - the cover/ canopy for the basement steps.
       Swint added that “if anyone would like to make a donation to help cover the work, we would be thrilled and we can provide them with a tax receipt. We work with a very tight budget, allowing us to add slowly to our savings, but one big expense like this will drain a lot from that savings account. Regardless, the work has to be done.”
       The main reason there was no damage to artificacts in the flooding was that the basement archives are kept above the floor. Part of that is due to Boy Scout projects that provided shelving for the basement, Schorsch pointed out. Nonetheless, just having the excess moisture over time can harm older documents, OCCHS archivist Tom Daniels explained.

The inviting entrance to the Old Colorado City History Center belies a couple of problems. Water is seeping in by the near corner because of the building settling. A non-water issue is that the solid-wall handicapped ramp allows the space outside the door to be used as a hiding place/camping spot by transients. So a future plan (unfunded at present) is to replace the solid ramp wall with wrought-iron fencing.
Westside Pioneer photo

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