Historic Boulder turns 50

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Susan Osborne won’t forget the feeling she had looking out of the window of the Hannah Barker House at the Historic Boulder Vacation Gathering this year.

If it had not been for Historic Boulder, many buildings and part of Boulder’s history would have disappeared, Osborne noted.

“These days, (maybe) isn’t the most important thing in the world. There is climate change, and there are racial issues. There are a ton of things that grab our attention, ”said Historic Boulder Chairman of the Board. “But part of what makes a place a great place is this way of remembering history and telling how we came to be.”

For many members, this is the role Historic Boulder plays in the community, and it’s why they feel so passionate about the job.

Historic Boulder, the first permanent preservation organization in Boulder, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a non-profit organization that strives to create historic neighborhoods, advocate for the presentation of structures and explore sites to be preserved.

The idea of ​​a historic preservation group began to percolate at a meeting at the Boulder Public Library on December 6, 1971, but the group was officially incorporated several months later in 1972.

In 1971 and 1972, some Boulderers wanted to unite to save Highland School, Union Pacific Railroad Depot, and Central School, all of which were to be demolished.

As the Central School, Colorado’s oldest school building still standing at this time, was demolished, Historic Boulder helped save the others.

“To the credit of Historic Boulder and the community, no historic building of such significance has been demolished after this date,” said Dan Corson, member of the board of directors.

Joyce Davies, the original Board member for Historic Boulder, grew up in Rhode Island, surrounded by historic buildings. She always enjoyed old buildings, but didn’t start advocating for historic preservation until she arrived in Boulder.

Davies, now 95, coordinated the initial meeting at the Boulder Library on December 6 – her birthday. She felt it was important to fight to keep Highland School, now known as Highland City Club.

“Someone had the good idea that it should be demolished,” Davies said. “And I had the good idea that he should stay.”

“We have worked hard to keep Highland School,” she added.

To do this, some members of Historic Boulder got together to buy the school. Gretchen King, another original member, still remembers visiting Highland School to collect rent in the months after she and others pooled their money to buy the building.

Maybe that’s what she liked most about Boulder. The city seemed small enough to make an impact, King said.

“You could do something,” she said. “If you’re in a big city, you’re just a tiny piece. … And you can’t go beyond a certain point.

In its early years, the group also helped save the Boulderado Hotel and the Boulder Theater.

Additionally, Historic Boulder drafted and advocated for the Boulder Monuments Preservation Ordinance 1974.

According to the city, with the passage of the ordinance, Boulder became one of the first cities in Colorado to have the power to designate and prevent the demolition or destruction of historic, architectural and cultural resources considered valuable to the community.

For Corson, saving buildings is more than saving and preserving history.

“It saves a sense of belonging,” he said. “The purpose of historic preservation is not to save all buildings, but those that are important in terms of architecture or what happened there or in terms of the people who lived there and who helped develop the community in various ways. “

Historic Boulder intends to host a festive event in honor of its 50th anniversary, possibly in the summer. To learn more about the organization, visit its website at historicboulder.org.


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