Intended as both a school and community building when it was built, the Colona School continues to host meetings and other functions. Upcoming events include the very popular Vintage Tea. This year's high tea will be held Sunday, May 1, from 2-4:30 p.m.
Colona was settled in the late 1870s by farmers, ranchers and businessmen serving the Los Pinos Indian Agency, Fort Crawford, and travelers from mining camps to the south. By 1915, Colona was a quickly growing community with a stop on the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad line and a number of thriving businesses.
Faced with the decision of either sending their children away to attend school or not giving them a high school level education, the community passed a bond to construct the school in 1915. When the Colona School was dedicated on January 7, 1916, the Montrose Daily Press proclaimed it “the finest schoolhouse for a town this size in the state” and one of the finest school buildings on the Western Slope. Among the building's foresightful features was a turnkey heating system allowing the building to “breathe,” using furnaces to heat and circulate fresh air from the outside during the day or expel warm air outside at night, depending on the season. Such a system might be considered a “green” building technique, today.
From 1915 through 1927, the school served students in grades one through 12, then grades one through eight until 1948. In 1948 the building was closed as a school when local school districts were consolidated. From 1948 until sold to the Grange, the school district rented the building for civic and social occasions.
Colona Grange #259 purchased the building in 1963, and has continued to rent it for civic and social functions. The historic building is also home to the Ouray County Ranch History Museum, which leases two of the classic, high-ceilinged classrooms for museum exhibits.
In 2006, Colorado Preservation Inc. named Colona School to its Top Ten list of most endangered historic sites, The State Historical Fund, a program of History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society, awards grants to public and non-profit organizations to preserve Colorado's architectural and archaeological treasures for public benefit. Program funds are provided by tax revenues from limited-stakes gaming. SHF grants have helped preserve thousands of historic schools, town halls, agricultural sites and other important structures in all 64 Colorado counties. Since 1993, the SHF has awarded more than $211 million to nearly 3,300 projects.
The community can be very proud for continuing the use and preserving the future of this historic treasure. For more information, please contact Grange Master Harry Loss at 970/258-4918.