So what if a word is misspelled on a historic plaque or sign?
What’s the difference if the date of a major event is wrong?
Does it really matter if an old log cabin ever hosted the first Territorial Legislature of Colorado or the second or none at all? The cabin existed in 1859 and was nearby. Isn’t that good enough? Who really cares, anyway?
Jay Lowery cares. So much that he is going public with his frustration over the fractured history of Old Colorado City – an historic district within the western boundaries of Colorado Springs.
His frustration has been simmering for years. It eased a bit a few years ago when the Garvin Cabin in Bancroft Park was no longer identified as the site of the meeting of the first Territorial Legislature in 1861.
Historian Marshall Sprague exposed that myth in his excellent book “Newport in the Rockies” as the fabrication of Anthony Bott, one of the founding fathers of Colorado City.
But Lowery is upset about a series of other plaques and signs that misstate the history of Colorado City — which was founded near the confluence of Camp Creek and Fountain Creek, south of Garden of the Gods on Aug. 12, 1859, amid the Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush.
Here are the offensive signs and plaques:
Lowery said the “welcome” sign has three errors: it should be “capital” not “capitol” and the date should be 1862 not 1861. The third mistake is its placement on Colorado Avenue at Interstate 25, many blocks east of the actual boundary of Colorado City.
The second plaque has the same misspelling and date error. It also mistakenly cites the National Historic District designation as in 1983. It occurred in November 1982.
And the plaque in front of the old Garvin Cabin in Bancroft Park perpetuates the mistaken belief that the first Territorial Legislature met here in 1861. It was the second and it met in 1862.
Lowery also worries a new monument to be erected next to the cabin will perpetuate the mistakes. It is due to be engraved and erected as part of the 150th anniversary celebration in August.
Dave Hughes, like Lowery a longtime champion of Old Colorado City and one of the founders of the Old Colorado City Historical Society, disputes the need to rewrite all the signs and plaques or relocate the “welcome” sign.
It’s true, he said, that Colorado City’s eastern boundary was blocks away. And it fluctuated during the years as the population ebbed and flowed. He says it’s close enough to say it became Territorial Capital in 1861 since that is when the Legislature voted to meet there. It doesn’t matter that the session didn’t occur until July 1862.
And Hughes said Lowery is missing the point of the “welcome” sign by insisting it be moved west. It simply was a way to direct visitors east of the interstate to the National Historic District.
The district was designated in November 1982 and encompasses a seven-square-block area between 24th and 28th streets, mostly along West Colorado Avenue. Here is a look at it from www.FlashEarth.com
It is the heart of Colorado City, which existed from its founding in 1859 until April 1917 when its residents voted to accept annexation by neighboring Colorado Springs and the city’s residents voted to absorb the pioneer town.
An urban renewal project in the 1970s, which Hughes helped orchestrate, resulted in a rebirth of what is known as “Old Colorado City” and the restoration of shops, businesses and homes.
In 1976, the old town had just 30 businesses and 45 percent of the district was vacant. Today, about 100 commercial buildings have been renovated and it has evolved into a popular shopping district and highly sought neighborhood.
THIS JUST IN:
A Side Streets reader, Barbara M. Arnest, graciously provided this explanation for the spelling of capitol and capital:
A “capitol” is a building–as one of my several dictionaries says–”housing a legislative assembly.”
The original Capitol was a temple honoring Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome. Unlike “capital,” which has numerous meanings, “capitol” has no other meanings–but, oh, yes, if the written reference is to Jupiter’s temple or to the one in our national capital of Washington, D.C., it’s to be capitalized.