Home Page

COBWEB CORNERS: Colorado City’s 1st Catholic church

By Mel McFarland

       I am regularly asked about the first Catholic church in Colorado City. I recently found a story that confirmed where it was. The location was a bit of a surprise, since it is within sight of the Westside Pioneer office!
       In January 1925, the building burned down. It was no longer a Catholic church at the time, with Sacred Heart having opened on Colorado Avenue three years earlier.
       A newspaper account said that "a fire of unknown origin gutted and partially destroyed St. Mary's church at the corner of 26th and Robinson late at night on the 15th. The building was unoccupied at the time. The next-door neighbor, Mrs. J.A. Porter, turned in the alarm, after being roused from her sleep by unusual sounds. Mr. Porter ran to the building and found a door which is normally locked standing wide open."
       The story went on to say that the building was owned by Mrs. Gardner, who had the building open earlier in the day. Mrs. Gardner had been in the building cleaning, in preparation to moving into it. Asked if she had started a fire in the building, she said she had not, knowing that she would be leaving the building empty. She reported that she had left through the front door and all the other doors were locked from the inside.
       The news article did not say when the St. Mary's at Robinson and 26th Street was built, but records show that block of Robinson being developed in the late 1800s, when it was part of Colorado City. The old church was torn down after the fire, and the site remains vacant.
       The Porters' house might be the one that's still standing next to the former church lot. The large building on the other side of the house, 1523 Robinson, was used as a church more recently, with Beacon Light Baptist offering services there until about 2009.
       It is interesting that the 1925 newspaper article on the fire referred to this part of town as "Glass Town." That was actually up the hill. Glass Town was the name for company housing provided by the Colorado City Glass Factory, which had closed in the mid- 1890s. Robinson is closer to the Midland railroad's roundhouse off 21st Street, which operated until the railroad shut down in the late 1940s. People living near the roundhouse in the 1920s were mostly railroad workers, and it is still known as the Midland area.
       The fire was a challenge to the fire department, as water pressure was very low. At one point the water was even shut off. The fire department's pumper was brought in to pull water from Fountain Creek for the final extinguishing of the fire. Fortunately, there were no trains moving on the Midland tracks as the hoses ran over the rails! At the time the fire department was housed in the station at 26th and Cucharras, in what had once been Colorado City's city hall. That building itself burned down in 1990.

Local historian Mel McFarland has been contributing his Cobweb Corners column to the Westside Pioneer since 2004.