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Celebrating 80 Years - “A fit place for the Gods to assemble,” 1968, City of Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods Rock Ledge Ranch

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.

 

Iconic in Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods—massive red rocks that rise vertically from the foothills beneath Pikes Peak. Adjacent to the famous park is the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, a living history adventure that takes visitors back in time through various moments in the early settling of the Pikes Peak of Region.

 

Grantee Spotlight:  City of Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods Rock Ledge Ranch

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Photo courtesy of Matt Nuñez

Anyone who has visited the iconic Garden of the Gods is likely to intuitively understand the reasoning for its name. As the story goes, in 1859 two surveyors from Denver headed south to begin a new town called Colorado City. As they explored the surrounding area, they found the beautiful sandstone formations the park is now known for. One surveyor said to the other that it would be a "capital place for a beer garden" and his companion reportedly replied, "Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods."In 1879, Charles Elliot Perkins, friend and business partner of Colorado Springs city founder General William Jackson Palmer, purchased acreage in the Garden of the Gods but never built on it, even opening the area to the public during his lifetime. After his death, his children conveyed his 480 acres to the City of Colorado Springs in 1909, to be known as the Garden of the Gods, "where it shall remain free to the public, where no intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured, sold, or dispensed, where no building or structure shall be erected except those necessary to properly care for, protect, and maintain the area as a public park.” The official deed states that the park “should be maintained as a free and public park forever.”

The adjoining Rock Ledge Ranch Site has its own history, dating back to settlement by homesteader Walter Galloway in 1867. In 1874, the Chambers family purchased the land and operated it as a ranch, which they called “Rock Ledge” to describe its geographic features. Over the next century, the land passed through several hands. It wasn’t until 1968, when the building was at risk of demolition and the property was going to be subdivided, that El Pomar joined the Bemis Foundation in purchasing the ranch and land to add to the preserved area surrounding the Garden of the Gods. In 1995, restoration of the ranch converted it into the living history museum it is today: providing “a safe, educational and experiential program that interprets the social, agricultural, and economic development of the Pikes Peak region.” The museum’s content includes focuses on Native American traditions, Victorian-era lifestyles, and westward expansion. 

El Pomar in 1968:

$2.6 million was granted to 24 organizations. First-time grantees included REACH Pikes Peak and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation for the construction of a memorial. Large capital grants included funding for the sports center at Colorado College, the swimming pool at the Fountain Valley School, the construction of the Westside Boys Club of the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region, and dormitories at the Colorado Springs School.

 

Spotlight by Corey Baron