Fall 2020 Update


After more than six years of perseverance and effort by the Western Fremont Historical Society, the 1898 Free Methodist Church building in Howard stands proud once again. Despite the best efforts of local craftsmen and dedicated volunteers since WFHS acquired the now 122 year old building in 1999, the “little white church” (as it was known to locals) had gradually deteriorated to the point where skilled specialists were needed to preserve this beloved historic landmark.

WFHS partnered with the History Colorado State Historic Fund (SHF) to secure the necessary funding for the rehabilitation project. The State Historic Fund receives funds for grants through a portion of tax revenues from limited-stakes gambling in the towns of Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk and directs the grants toward preserving local historic resources which in turn provides an economic boost to local communities and businesses. In 2014-16 SHF provided a $10,000 grant for a Historic Structure Assessment of the building. Based on the HSA findings, the Historical Society began a rigorous grant application process which required securing a quarter of the anticipated costs of the project as a cash match in advance of submitting the grant application. In 2017-18 WFHS was able to raise $24,000 through the generous support of WFHS members, the Pleasant Valley community at large, community organizations such as the Pleasant Valley Club, the Sangre de Cristo Electric Association (SDCEA) Board of Directors, SDCEA Operation Roundup and CoBank Sharing Success, as well as a grant from The Anschutz Foundation. In early 2019 WFHS was awarded a major grant of $71,928 from the State Historical Fund for the external rehabilitation of the Howard church building.

Actual on-site work on the Howard Church Project began in May 2020 and finished with a Final Meeting on Nov. 5, 2020. The management team on the project consisted of Barbara Darden (preservation architect with Scheuber & Darden, Architects), Jon Sargent (general contractor & owner, Deep Roots Timberworks), Craig Leitner (president, WFHS Board of Directors) and Ellen Hopkins (WFHS Preservation Project coordinator and grant manager) with input from Mike Perschbacher of Older Than Dirt Construction. Preservation Activities included the following: stabilization of the original stone foundation, restoration of the windows, restoration of the wooden siding and trim, prep and paint the outside of the building in the original colors, rehabilitation of the front entry to be compliant with ADA and Fremont County codes, and grading around the building to improve drainage. All of the preservation work was completed in compliance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.

The Howard church building, built in 1898 and the only religious building between Salida and Canon City until 1955, was originally a landmark structure for the town of Howard and is currently designated by Fremont County as a historically significant site. Today the building serves as the WFHS History Center which houses a collection of local artifacts and archives and is open to the public on a regular basis during the warmer months. More information (and photos) about the preservation project and the Western Fremont Historical Society can be found on the WFHS website: WestFremontHistory.com or on Facebook: Western Fremont Historical Society.



Spring 2020 Renovation Update

Completing all of the necessary research, applying for grants, raising matching funds for our portion of the cost, and complying with all the bureaucratic “red tape” has taken many years and lots of patience, but we are finally about to see some results on the ground.  In coming months, you will notice a lot of activity at the building, beginning with removal of the windows for restoration off-site, plus repairs on the siding and trim, foundation, and front porch/stairs, as well as a much-needed fresh coat of paint.  The contractor hopes to complete all the work by the end of the summer, and we look forward to the time we can host an open house to share the results with all of you.

Thanks again to those of you who donated money for this preservation project, and especially for your patience as we worked through the lengthy process involved in obtaining the grant money from the State Historic Fund to allow the project to move forward.



Current Renovation Update 04/28/19

The WFHS Board of Directors is pleased to announce that as of March 25, 2019 the grant application we resubmitted to the History Colorado State Historical Fund has been approved and fully executed.  We were awarded $71,928 for the Exterior Rehabilitation of the Howard Free Methodist Church building, which is now the WFHS History Center and houses our community’s archives and artifacts.  Combined with the 25% cash match of $24,000 we raised, the total amount raised for this project is $95,928!  Many thanks to those of you who contributed to the cash match that enabled us to secure this generous grant, including The Pleasant Valley Club of Howard, Western Fremont Historical Society, The Anschutz Foundation, Sangre de Cristo Electric Assn Board of Directors, SDCEA Operation Roundup, and CoBank Sharing Success.  And a special thank you to the people of Western Fremont County for your generous donations–the outpouring of support from our community has been truly heart-warming and we couldn’t have done it without you!

The WFHS Church Preservation Project will be a multi-stage undertaking over the next two years and will be completed by March 25, 2021.  We are fortunate to have secured the help of two highly respected experts in historical preservation, architect Barbara Darden of Scheuber & Darden Architects and local restoration specialist Mike Perschbacher of Older Than Dirt Construction.  Although the church building is in remarkably good condition given its age and history, there is a critical need now for some essential physical repairs, especially to the foundation, exterior siding, windows restoration, the porch, and of course the peeling paint!  There are a lot of moving parts to this project, and we look forward to getting started as soon as possible.”

Ellen Hopkins, Project Manager