COBWEB CORNERS: The Gardiner tents

By Mel McFarland

       Just about everywhere you see some odd little buildings in back yards. Over in Manitou, across from the Arcade, there are two joined together . Ever see it? Ever see any others?
       Well, they are found all over from Denver to Pueblo and Canon City, but where did that style come from? Now I can not say just how those got to Manitou, but anyone can see it has been changed a bunch. Did you know it is technically a GARDINER TENT?
       A hundred years ago people all over the country were suffering from tuberculosis. It was thought that the cool, dry air we have would cure it. There were dozens of sanitariums set up in the West - not just around Colorado Springs - to provide cures for the disease. People at first lived in Indian-style tents. Later there were buildings with canvas roofs, intended to provide plenty of fresh air. The idea for the tents came from Dr. Charles F. Gardiner. The little buildings provided only sleeping rooms. With names like Wood-man Sanitarium, they filled acres of open land with tents.
       In the late 1940s and '50s, the "real" treatment of tuberculosis led to the closing of the camps. Over the years the tents were sold off, usually at a nominal $25, and moved away.
       If you would like more information, the Pioneers' Museum downtown has an excellent display. The entrance to Rock Ledge Ranch (formerly known as White House Ranch) near the Garden of the Gods uses one as its entryway.
       Other buildings in the area also have moved. Some may have been part of the old Midland yards, or from Camp Carson. There are even houses here in Old Colorado City that were originally in Colorado Springs. The most moved building has to be the old cabin in Bancroft Park. It has gone to Denver and back!