COLONA – Check out the old Colona Schoolhouse this holiday season. It looks festive, and – though it hasn’t held students since 1948 – well loved.
Joan Chismire, a member of the Colona Grange and a boardmember of the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, thought it would be a great idea to have the Colona School showcased over the Christmas holidays through the artwork of students from this area, to celebrate the restoration-to-date on the old schoolhouse.
She contacted the third-grade teachers from Ouray, Ridgway and Cottonwood Elementary Schools and asked if they would agree to a snowflake-cutting contest with their students. All gladly agreed and said that it worked in perfectly with their current teaching curriculum.
Mike Simpson of Simpson Gallery in Montrose and Maria Marcantonio, a retired art teacher from Ridgway Secondary School, judged the 121 student works on December 14. Prizes were awarded to the first place and honorable mention winners from each school; Simpson donated the honorable mention prizes, which were acid-free note cards for creating images to use for thank-you notes and other correspondence. The first place prizes included books, DVDs and LED flashlights for snowflake exploration and further learning.
All the snowflakes submitted for judging, as well as additional snowflakes made by the third-graders, will be displayed in the newly restored windows at the Colona Schoolhouse, with the winning snowflakes highlighted in the window to the left of the front doors. They will remain on display over the Christmas school break.
The Colona School building is undergoing restoration through grants awarded by the Colorado Historical Society State Historical Fund and matching funds, with a new roof, and reinforcement beams completed by Ridgway Valley Enterprises. All the windows and casings have been restored to original condition by Older than Dirt from Salida, Colo. The painting of the soffit and window trim was finished by Kevin Murrey Painting. The masonry work was done by local mason Scott Taylor. Installation of storm windows is all that remains to complete Phase 1 of the restoration project. Colorado Preservation Inc. named the schoolhouse one of Colorado's Most Endangered Places in 2006. “Fundraising has begun for Phase 2,” said Harry (Dean) Loss, Colona Grange Master., and “will include replacing exterior stucco and restoration of the historic fire escapes, which were removed in the 1970s. Brad McMillon of McMillon Engineering LLC is preparing the fire escape engineering drawings pro bono.”
The Colona Schoolhouse was closed as a school in 1948 and was later purchased by the Colona Grange #259 in 1963.
The Grange leases out two of the classrooms to the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, which is open on Sundays, from May through September www.ocrhm.or).
Call Loss at 258-4918 or contact email@example.com with any questions regarding the restoration project or donations.