Historical Society denied grant request for town hall | SteamboatToday.com
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Historical Society denied grant request for town hall

Susan Cunningham

Kathy “Cargo” Rodeman found it hard not to cry in late July when the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg learned it did not receive a $235,000 grant to renovate Old Town Hall.

“It just breaks my heart. I really want to save the building,” said Rodeman, the town’s mayor, who also wrote the application for the grant.

Rodeman said she’s worried that the building is in such bad shape that it will not make it through another winter.

“Once the building collapses, we’ve lost it, and we’ve lost it for all time,” Rodeman said. “Sure, we want to open the local museum. … But first and foremost, it’s important that we save the building and everything it was built and stood for.”

The grant request to the State Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society, would have provided funds to restore the Old Town Hall to its original state, including the jail at the back, and create space for a museum and visitor’s center. Eventually, a replicate coal-mining shaft could be created in the basement area of the museum, according to the grant application.

Jennifer Cook, public relations advisor for the State Historical Fund, said this granting cycle was very competitive and the request from the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg was pretty significant.

The State Historical Fund awarded 53 grants totaling about $3.8 million, which was less than half of the total dollar amount requested.

A representative from the State Historical Fund is helping the society make its application even more competitive for the next round, she said.

Last week, members of the Historical Society, as well as other officials involved and a representative from the state Historical Society, met to discuss options for the society.

One option to secure funding is to do the work in two or three phases, Rodeman said.

The back of the building is deteriorating quickly, she said, so the Historical Society is trying to begin work on at least the “critical” deficiencies this year.

While applying for another grant from the Colorado Historical Society, Rodeman said she would look into securing additional grants from other organizations.

“I’m not by any means giving up,” she said.

The Old Town Hall was built in 1927 as a campaign promise from the mayoral candidate running against the Ku Klux Klan ticket. The candidate opposing the Klan won, and the hall was built. It originally housed the town jail, which consisted of two cells made of metal bars.

In Oak Creek’s heyday in the 1930s and ’40s, when the coal activity peaked and the town and surrounding area held about 5,000 people, the jail and town hall often were busy, local historians have said.

To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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