Bancroft monument receives concept OK
The Colorado Springs Parks Advisory Board gave approval Dec. 11 to the concept of a six-foot-tall stone monument in Bancroft Park that would graphically
summarize Westside history.
Sitting on an existing concrete slab next to the park's Garvin Cabin, the marker would consist of two red-granite blocks, the bottom one slightly larger than the top one - each with four panels describing different eras from 1859 through the present.
The proposal from the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) was presented to the board by its treasurer, Dave Hughes. The goal is to have the monument ready this coming August for the 2009 sesquicentennial celebration of Colorado City's founding in 1859, Hughes explained.
While staff and board members generally praised the monument plan, questions were raised about the minimal narrative on the panels, as currently proposed. One example, raised by City Parks Director Paul Butcher, was the era of 1862-1865, for which the current text simply reads, “Civil War - Glorieta Battle.” Butcher said tourists reading that might be confused (not knowing about the so-called “Gettysburg of the West” and Colorado City's participation in the Union's First Colorado Infantry/ Cavalary).
The only Indian tribe mentioned is the Utes (the drawing for the panel, dated 1865-1868, depicts an encampment with famous leaders Ouray and Chipeta in the foreground). However, several other tribes, some of them decidedly less peaceful, were also present here in the 1860s, as Hughes himself noted.
Another seeming omission, which Hughes pointed out to the board (saying it resulted from an effort to gain a consensus within the OCCHS), was Colorado City's notorious “red-light district.” However, he said a nod to that tawdry aspect of Westside past can be found in the panel drawing for the “Saloons” era (1891-1917) - a Hughes-researched recollection from the early 1900s in which Prairie Dog O'Byrne is shown driving a wagon pulled by his trained elk, Thunder and Buttons, with legendary madame Laura Belle seated beside him, long hair flying.
Hughes, a retired Army colonel who for many years owned an Old Colorado City telecommunications business, was open to the idea of using an electronic link, possibly in the cabin, to provide an audio elaboration for the monument's panels. But a counterpoint was raised by one board member as to whether such a capability would remain over the full 100 to 150 years that the OCCHS expects the monument to last.
Hughes said it would be possible to put additional text onto the panels, but pointed out the issues of money and time. The expected cost is $11,500 for the monument itself, plus up to $3,000 for the artwork. And, the work needs to be in the hands of the stone company at least four months before Founders' Day, he said.
The monument would be created and installed at no cost to the city, he added.
From a monetary standpoint, the board vote gave the OCCHS what it needed. A letter stating the board's concept approval should be acceptable to the Ackerman Fund (the entity from which the OCCHS is seeking a grant), Hughes said.
The grant would be for $10,000. The remaining cost would be covered by fund-raising. Money would be sought “from all the school kiddies of the Westside, because it's their monument,” as well as from Westsiders in general, Hughes said.
City Parks staff, which had not seen the proposal until two days before the meeting, will now have additional time to review the project. The proposal will be brought back to the Parks Board for final approval in January or February, Butcher said.
The monument's eras, as tentatively proposed, are:
1859-1862 - Colorado City.
1862-1865 - Civil War - Glorieta Battle.
1865-1868 - Indians - Ute Encampment.
1888-1896 - Railroads.
1891-1917 - Saloons.
1896-1949 - Gold Mills.
1940-1976 - Westside.
1976-[no date] - Rebirth.
Hughes can speak first-hand about the last panel, having involved himself with already-started Westside redevelopment efforts in 1976, initially as the Colorado Springs chairman of the state's Centennial celebration and later as a resident, redevelopment employee, entrepreneur and volunteer.
Westside Pioneer article