Saving and Losing Trinidad’s Downtown Buildings

Colombia Hotel and Opera House

After the recent 5.3 earthquake centered just west of Trinidad last year in 2011 it is suspected that it caused damage to the historic Opera House on Main Street in Trinidad Colorado that is most likely going to force the owner to tear the building down. Seems that the earthquake caused a crack in the brick front near the top right of the building (not shown in this photo) and with the heavy snow and ice this winter it caused it to crack even more. All businesses located in the Opera House building have been forces to relocate.

Cost of repairs I have heard were over $5 million and cost of demolition will still be very costly. This has raised valid concerns in the town over other old historic buildings in need of repair such as the Columbia Hotel show in the photo above, the 1888 Building (show just below) located at the corner of Main and Animas Streets, the Schneider Brewery (show below) and the Presbyterian Church on Commercial Street ( also shown below)

The 1888 Building at the Corner of Main and Animas Streets

The owner of the 1888 Building, Massod Sadel who has owned the building now for 9 years, mentioned in the article in the Chronicle News Jan 10th issue written by Mike Albanese that he has put about $550,000 into the building since he has owned it. Including work replacing the roof and hiring a stone mason to repair grout and bricks and original sandstone on the building all while not seeing a return on his investment. He mentioned that the previous Mayor and City Manager showed no support for the project but that the new City Manager Ed Gil de Rubio is much more cooperative and helpful.

The Schneider Brewery

Trinidad City Planner, Louis Fineburg said that the Schneider Brewery was the most important building in Trinidad and that “anyone driving down I-25 would recognize a picture of it”. We personally love this old building and wait for the day that it is renovated and put back into use. The current owners of the building, White Construction out of Castle Rock, Colorado had plans for the structure that has gotten put off with the economy. So their plans to make this a vibrant public building again in Trinidad is on hold. But the good news is that this building has a great solid foundation that should protect it but as much work as they have done replacing the roof etc there are still open windows and repairs needed to keep it from deteriorating.

Presbyterian Church on Commercial Street in Trinidad

The article mentioned that the Presbyterian Church on Commercial Street is not in as bad of structural damage that was originally suspected but that it currently has a leaking roof that is not helping. Repairs to this building’s foundation would be most likely close to $100,000 or more.

Trinidad truly has a wonderful collection of old western, turn of the century building with many of them in need of repair. Quite a few buildings have been saved and fixed up like the old Dr. Beshoar Building that Frank Images is in on Commercial Street and the Toltec Hotel that was renovated by the owners of the Chronicle News just to mention a few.

Just looking at this old photo you will see how many buildings we have already lost to old age

We respect and admire the effort, time, love and money that has been put into many of these beautiful old buildings and sure will hate to lose the old Opera House and the history that it has shared with Trinidad all these years. It has certainly seen better days and I guess if money where no object it could be saved.

The biggest worry that I think we have in Trinidad is what will happen if we get another large earthquake. These old brick buildings sure don’t hold up well to the damage of earthquakes. And while we believe that our local earthquakes have been triggered by the deep well injection wells from the gas companies or the calculated risks of fracking by the gas industry, I just read an article that discusses that we are in an area with an active rift called the Rio Grande Rift that is moving slightly each year. This just adds to the potential of losing more of our precious old structures. So I guess we just need to enjoy them while we can.

The City of Trinidad is working on a plan to help ensure that these buildings get repaired and are safe for the public. Honestly I don’t think that fixing or repairing many of these old buildings will deem them safe from irreparable damage from the earthquakes but they certainly need to be fixed up if they are going to be useful so that they don’t get in worse shape. We need more Grant money to help fix up our buildings or owners that have the money to restore them and both are hard to come by.

So I guess we just have to take it one day at a time.  What do you think? Share your thoughts….