v0.2 I No.39 I COPYRIGHT 2009
THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2009
THE IRON FENCES OF COLORADO CITY
Colorado City Workers Created Beautiful Wrought Iron Fences
BY DAVE HUGHES
YOUR HUB CONTRIBUTOR
STORY ID: 578749R
Colorado City workers created beautiful wrought iron fences.
Colorado City was home to one of the most interesting “artistic”
companies in all of El Paso County in the 1880s Not “art” as in Manitou’s sometime hippie Commonwheel art group. Or “art” as in the effete Broadmoor Art Colony. But art as in a smoke belching, hot-furnace iron foundry, whose anvil-wield ing, beer drinking, Colorado City ironworkers, turned out the most beautiful wrought iron fences seen west of the Mississippi The Hassell-Talcott iron foundry was across Fountain Creek in the Midland area, on Colorado City’s south 5th Street (today’s 25th Street). It was built and started operating in the early 18805. While it also manufactured useful iron goods and wire works, shipping them by rail, it made a variety of attractive and distinctive fences and gates that can still be seen all over Old Colorado City and West- side neighborhoods. While such fences were initially more expen- sive than those made of wood, they were virtually maintenance-free, and of course, long lasting. That is why you can see so‘ many Hassell Iron fences still standing 125 years ‘with their distinctive style and often the foundry’s name on their gate decorations.
The Foundry caught ﬁre in 1896, and burned down. The loss was calculated at $5,000. Hassell dissolved his partnership with Talcott, and rebuilt just the Hassell Iron Works on Sierra Madre south of downtown Colorado Springs, and it shifted its emphasis to providing practical iron goods for the Cripple Creek Gold Boom. But it continued producing — and advertising — decorative iron for years to Come.
Many of the Wood Avenue and Cascade Avenue “Millionaire’s Row” mansions sported goods from Hassell Iron - urns, settees, window guards, ﬂower stands and ornate castings. The original Colorado City factory went “up town!” So historically appealing were these iron gates and fences, even 35 years ago when large numbers of west-side buildings were run down and blighted, that some of us running the Pikes Peak or Bust by ‘76’ Centennial/Bicentennial Commit- tee happily endorsed and funded a project to research, photograph and document the iron fences still visible close to Old Colorado City and in the near west-side. Then we would make it into a self-guided walking tour. Elaine Freed, who had earlier studied and written papers about iron fences in upscale Colorado Springs for the Colorado State Historical Society, undertook, with a grant from our Centennial Committee and the Springs Beautiful Association to produce an “Iron Goods and Wire Work” walking tour handout. Less than a book, but far more than just a ﬂier. ' That walking tour that describes the iron works at 33 different 01d Colorado City and near west-side addresses, still exists. It has never been reprinted since the last copies of it disappeared into people’s scrapbooks or school books over 30 years ago. And was never under copyright.
Now our Old Colorado City Historical Society is undertaking to reproduce it. I am posting the entire publication here on the Hub where it can be read, printed out, followed, and you can go on your own self—guided tour. Or you can visit the Old Colorado City History, Center/Museum at 1 South 24th Street, across from Bancroft Park and, for a small do- nation of any amount to our “Sesquicentennial Monument Fund” pick up a handy, folded, paper copy of the guides It’s a classic and a keeper.
Of course I know that iron fences at some of the addresses shown may not exist anymore after all these 35 years. And we also know that such fences and their gates are still so historically attractive that they were stolen regularly over the years. Nobody makes such things of beauty anymore. But the guide will work for most ad- dresses. While not in the brochure, even the still standing 1890s Jacob Schmidt’s brick Beer Hall at 2711 West Colorado still sports Hassell iron on the balcony and along the grassed area west of the building that now houses Mountain Sports. Jacob had good taste in architecture even during Colorado City’s rip roaring Saloon Days!
I have scanned in the original guide and it is posted here in 8 captioned graphics. To read the text click on the pictures themselves and they will enlarge some what. But be warned some of you may - depending on your eye— sight, computer screen size and resolution — have difﬁculties reading the original text online. But you can get a paper version at our center which is open 11 a.m. to 4 pm, Tuesday through Saturdays, staffed by our volunteers. Don’t forget a small donation! Reproducing it was at our own cost. What was also interesting when Ms.Freed undertook the job in 1975 to produce the Iron Fence Guide, she recruited history students from the west-side’s Coronado High School to help her with the “ﬁeld work?’ While all their names are in very small print on the brochure, let me list them again here. Let’s see, 1976 high school age students? They ought to. be 50~year~old fogies by now and their Faculty Coordinator, Dr Robert Smith, must be well retired and in his 705 or 80s. Let’s see if any of you Hub readers know any of the then-students who contributed so nicely to the History of their west—side that still lives! You .can tell them their names are in Hub Print! Or comment here that you found one or more of them, and he or she remembers doing ﬁeld work searching out the famed Hassell Iron Fences - Beth Brooks, Becky Bliss, Tim Barbari, Dan Starch, Ann Burnett, John Cox, Erica Jessen, Regina Walter. Who said Colorado City’s red- necks and shady ladies had no‘ art or culture? _
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