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Las Animas, Colorado Site

“Best Little City By A Dam Site!”

Excerpts from pamphlet printed by the Colorado Preservation Inc. ENDANGERED PLACES PROGRAM,
1900 Wazee Street, Suite 360, Denver, Colorado 80202, email address:
info@coloradopreservation.org  2004.

     A successful lawsuit filed against the State of Colorado has enabled underserved communities
in the state to receive more funding for construction and maintenance of their schools.  Though
some school districts have used funds received to renovate existing schools, most have not.
Numerous communities around the state are in various stages of building new schools and demol-
ishing the old.  Most of the older school buildings are historically and architecturally significant,
but decision-makers staunchly hold to the belief that the challenges of an old building outweigh the
advantages of the new.

     This situation is typified in Las Animas, where the old Bent County High School, with its Las
Animas County Middle School addition, was replaced by new middle and high  schools elsewhere
in the City of Las Animas, and the Columbian Elementary School is being abandoned for the newly
completed Las Animas Elementary School.  Bids have been requested for demolition of the old
schools.  (Assistant Web Master's Note:  Exact date of the publication of this pamphlet is unknown.
Bids have been accepted for the demolition of Columbian but has been interrupted due to the
discovery of asbestos which requires special handling procedures.  This as of  8-20-2004.

HISTORICAL BUILDING PRESERVATION

This information is obsolete now, but I included it in case anyone is interested

Bent County High School
Bent County, Las Animas, Colorado
   
 One is startled by the imposing, three-story, massive-columned old Bent County High School as they enter Las Animas.  Believed eligible for national and state registers of historic places, the now vacant neoclassical style structure was designed by Swedish architect James Larson, constructed by Nels T. Nelson, and completed in 1913.

     In 1939, the original high school was extended with the addition of a middle school on the east side.  The addition, with elements of Art Deco and Art Moderne, was designed by Walter De Mourant and John Gray of Pueblo, and is believed to be a feature that contributes to the historic register eligibility of the building as a whole.

     The old Bent County High School is noted for its association with significant persons who attended school there, namely U. S. Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson, who as an expert on Soviet affairs and served under President John F. Kennedy during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Ken Curtis (born Curtis Gates), "Festus" of the long-running television series Gunsmoke, and author James Michener's wife, Mari (Sabusawa) Michener.

     The local school board does not want to continue maintaining the high school, which has been out of use for years,  However, with offices in the adjoining old middle school building, the school board may be interested in remaining on site if a viable....... (Editor's note: the end of available data from the pamphlet).

Columbian Elementary School
Bent Country, Las Animas, Colorado
    
The Columbian Elementary School, with an inner courtyard reminiscent of a time when forts were necessary to protect early pioneers, is a reminder of the significant historic landmarks of the area, namely, the Santa Fe Trail, Boggsville, and Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site.  Constructed in 1916 to replace the first Columbian School of 1887, the old elementary sits vacant, next door to the neighboring, newly constructed, Las Animas Elementary School.

     Columbian Elementary Schooll's Mission Revival style, with an open, grassy courtyard surrounded by a colonnade of brick arches, reflects the Hispanic heritage of the southwest region and represents a unique design for a school.  Classrooms opened out into the courtyard.  The building is believed to be eligible for the national and state registers of historic places.

     As with the old high school, the Columbian Elementary School is associated with significant individuals as detailed under the Bent Country High School column to the left.

     Supporters of this historic school continue to encourage the school board to delay demolition as they work to develop a re-use compatible with the new elementary school.  However, with mounting political pressures and local economic concerns..... (Editor's note:  this concludes the available information available).

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