It’s called the Margery Reed Memorial Park in honor of a long-dead heiress and ex-nursing student whose mother gave large sums to the predecessor of Penrose Hospital.
It sits at the corner of Cascade Avenue and Jackson Street.
The park isn’t huge. It’s a “pocket” park, actually. But it’s a nice little oasis amid the east and west towers, the parking structure and asphalt lots of the Penrose Hospital campus.
It is seeded with wildflowers and landscaped with trees and shrubs and lined with walkways that function beyond aesthetics.
Jamie Smith, chief operating officer of Penrose-St. Francis, tells me they were designed in a variety of surfaces — concrete, brick, wood, gravel — for use in therapy by rehabilitation patients.
I really like the restored tuberculosis hut on the corner of the park, which is furnished with a bed, dresser, trunk, nightstand and chair from the period in the early 20th century when Colorado Springs was a center for treatment of tuberculosis.
The TB huts were lined up by the dozens outside the Modern Woodmen of America sanatorium north of town deep in the Woodmen Valley.
Today we know the area as Peregrine!
The Modern Woodmen is a fraternal organization and insurance company and it provided free treatment to its members at the sanatorium. The huts are visible around Colorado Springs in backyards, as businesses, country lane bus stops and other uses.
The park and TB hut are just one of many efforts by Penrose to be a good neighbor. It has tried to soften the appearance of its buildings by heavily landscaping around its borders.
It has adopted historic street lamps to blend with those installed in the neighborhood.
It even reached out to the neighborhood in 2010 and conducted a health wellness program over 10 months.
When neighbors saw the drawings for its east tower, built in 2005, they asked the hospital to enhance the appearance with curves and other design touches. Voila’ the building became more graceful!
As for the park’s namesake, Margery Reed, I found some interesting history from Penrose spokesman Chris Valentine.
Margery was the daughter of Mary and Verner Reed who moved to Colorado Springs in 1893. Verner made his fortune in mining, banking, ranching and irrigation. Margery was born in 1894. They also had two sons.
Verner died in 1919, leaving Mary a fortune which she used in charitable and philanthropic projects.
Margery, meanwhile, studied nursing student at Glockner before ultimately graduating from the University of Denver in 1919 with a degree in English and took a position as an assistant professor of English. That’s where she met her future husband, Paul Mayo, who also taught English.
In 1924 Paul and Margery traveled to Peru, where he joined the diplomatic service. Margery became ill in Peru and returned to the U.S., where she died at age 30.
To honor her daughter, She died young and her family donated $100,000 toward construction of Margery Reed Mayo Hall at DU, which opened in 1929.
Then Mary Reed presented DU with $350,000 in cash and an additional $180,000 trust fund income to erect a new library that would bear her name.
In April 1941, Glockner celebrated the opening of a new $250,000 addition to its nurses’ home. It was named the Margery Reed building and was a gift from Mary Reed.
Within the Margery Reed Nurses Home was placed some of her most cherished possessions. In the wood-paneled library was a large oil portrait of Margery and her entire library of 1,000 volumes.
Margery Reed’s ashes also remain at Penrose Hospital in two urns.
Here’s a link to a good story written in 2007 by my colleague, Scott Rappold, about Colorado Springs’ history as a tuberculosis treatment center.