January 2023 Newsletter


P.O. Box 181, Howard, CO  81233

Parkdale   Texas Creek   Cotopaxi   Coaldale   Howard   Swissvale   Wellsville


Dear Members and Friends of WFHS,

A new year is dawning and the Board of Directors of WFHS is looking forward to more adventures as we explore local history together.  Many of you had the opportunity to enjoy a variety of rotating displays at our History Center in Howard over the past year.  We will continue to experiment with new ways to utilize that beautifully restored building this year.  

Our newest project is the former Mullins general store property on Plum Street in Cotopaxi which was donated to WFHS by the Estate of Glenn Mullins. We are in the process of converting that property into the Mullins-Cotopaxi History Center.  What a gift to the community, and what a challenge for our little society!  Our heads are spinning with all the ideas for potential uses of that building, but with a lot of volunteer help, elbow grease and the assistance of Cotopaxi High School students, we hope the building will be presentable for public viewing in the near future.  If you happen to have, or know the whereabouts of, any old pictures of Plum Street, the general store or railroad depot, we’d love to hear from you. 

In the meantime, we are planning our programs and events for 2023, including our Annual Meeting in the spring, events at the Howard History Center, and our popular programs and tours of historic locations in the area.  Enclosed is our annual membership form and a self-addressed envelope. Your annual dues enable us to pay our basic expenses, such as real estate taxes and insurance on the Howard History Center as well as the new Mullins-Cotopaxi History Center, liability insurance, website maintenance, printing and postage, as well as incidental costs for producing programs and tours. We appreciate your ongoing financial support; special thanks to those of you who also donated to WFHS through the Colorado Gives campaign that wrapped up in December!  WFHS is an IRS Code 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so every donation matters.  

Please check our website for fun historic facts, follow us on Facebook, and watch for email newsletters and program reminders. Feel free to contact any of the Board members listed below if you have questions or suggestions for programs, would like to volunteer, or need additional information.  Also, if you are aware of anyone (an individual or perhaps an estate) that has photos or other historic items of local interest to donate, please let us know.  You can also reach out via email at wfhsinfo@westfremonthistory.com.  

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support, and special thanks to all who have volunteered their time or allowed us to borrow items from their personal collections for special events at the Howard History Center. We look forward to seeing you at programs and events this year!

Craig Leitner, President (719) 207-0015 Kris Shurr, VP/Membership (719) 942-3653
Barbara Snyder, Secretary (719) 539-3956 Cinde McPhail, Treasurer (719) 942-4521
Betsy Denney, Historian/Programs (719) 942-3679 Shari Mohr, Community Outreach (719-942-3355)
Casey Hildebrand, Maintenance (720) 412-4001 Debbie Hildebrand, Event Coord. (303) 506-4399
Facebook: Western Fremont Historical Society Website: westfremonthistory.com



Board of Directors
Betsy Denney
Craig Leitner
Mark Minor
Shari Mohr
Kris Shurr
Barbara Snyder


P.O. Box 181, Howard, Colorado 81233
Facebook: Western Fremont Historical Society
0070 Co Rd 56, Howard, Colorado 81233
Website: WestFremontHistory.com



Dear Friends,                

After months of canceled events and limited social contacts, you may be ready for some positive news.  We are too, and we’re so excited to share it with you:  Exterior preservation of our 1898 historic church building in Howard, which currently serves as our “History Center”, is finally complete!!  So many events and projects have been canceled this summer, we feel really fortunate that our general contractor, Jon Sargent of Deep Roots Timberworks, was able to work with numerous local subcontractors and maintain the schedule to complete the project by the end of October.  Some of you have been able to drive by the site over the past few months and observe the project as it progressed.  For others, seeing pictures of each stage in the project on our website was a fun and interesting distraction during this “Safer at Home” stage of the pandemic.  Either way, we hope you are as pleased and impressed with the results as the Board members are.

You may be aware that the bulk of funding for this project ($71,928) was obtained through a grant from the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF).  The SHF receives funds for grants through a portion of tax revenues from limited-stakes gaming in the towns of Cripple Creek, Central City and Black Hawk, and their grants are extremely competitive.  WFHS was required to raise matching funds in the amount of $24,000 as our share of the project costs, which we were able to do, thanks to your individual donations and community support, including a substantial donation from the Pleasant Valley Club, as well as grants from the Anschutz Foundation, Sangre de Cristo Electrical Assn (SDCEA) Board of Directors, SDCEA Operation Roundup and CoBank Sharing Success.

Several people deserve special recognition for their roles in bringing this project to fruition.   Former president of WFHS, Janet Lastovica, was instrumental in gathering information on the history of the church and its role as the first church in the entire Pleasant Valley area to get the ball rolling for the initial Historic Structure Assessment.  Ellen Hopkins then stepped forward and volunteered to serve as preservation project coordinator, which turned out to be a HUGE task of fund-raising for the required match, completing the grant application, submitting progress reports, managing deadlines, fielding questions from Board members, and attending on-site meetings with the contractor and subcontractors along with current president, Craig Leitner.  Craig also provided on-going oversight and feedback, sometimes on a daily basis, at the work site.  Our heartfelt thanks go out to them, as well as past members of the Board, for their dedication to this project, and their perseverance during the long years and various stages of this process.  There were times we weren’t sure the project was actually going to come to fruition, but here we are, finally with a beautifully restored exterior of the historic church building which now serves as the WFHS History Center.

We also want to recognize the team whose skill and expertise made the project possible:

  • Barbara Darden, Preservation Architect – Scheuber & Darden, Architects
  • Dave Wittman, Preservation Structural Engineer – Martin Martin Consulting Engineers
  • Michelle Slaughter, Archeologist – Metcalf Archaeology
  • Jon Sargent of Deep Roots Timberworks – general contractor
  • Thaddeus Hust, masonry contractor – Agave Masonry
  • Mike Perschbacher and Jesse Haro, window restoration – Older than Dirt Construction
  • Kurt Etscheidt, painting contractor – Kurt’s Painting
  • Bob Ferraro, excavation and site work – KT Sales and Excavation

We have surely missed sharing historical programs with all of you in 2020 – what a strange year this has been!  Hopefully, there will soon be light at the end of the tunnel and we will be able to meet again in 2021 for some fun programs and events.  Be sure to look at the pictures of the preservation project on our website and enjoy pictures of past programs and events while you are there.  If you have comments or questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact any of the Board members listed below.  We’d love to hear from you! We appreciate your ongoing support and interest in the history of Western Fremont County, and wish you the best – stay safe and healthy!!

WFHS Board of Directors
Betsy Denney (719) 942-3679 Craig Leitner (719) 207-0015
Casey Hildebrand (720) 412-4001 Debbie Hildebrand (303) 506-4399
Mark Minor (719) 207-0921 Shari Mohr (719) 942-3355
Kris Shurr (719) 942-3653 Barbara Snyder (719) 539-3956

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