Colorado historic preservation group to honor restoration of House, Senate chambers at Capitol

Author: Ernest Luning - May 9, 2017 - Updated: May 9, 2017

The chambers of the Colorado House of Representatives are pictured following an extensive historic restoration, with an inset showing what the chambers looked like before the project. (Photos courtesy Colorado Preservation, Inc.)
The chambers of the Colorado House of Representatives are pictured following an extensive historic restoration, with an inset showing what the chambers looked like before the project. (Photos courtesy Colorado Preservation, Inc.)

Colorado Preservation, Inc., plans to honor the restoration of the House and Senate chambers at the state Capitol at the Dana Crawford and State Honor Awards Celebration on May 18 in Denver. It’s among award recipients the organization will recognize at the annual gala for significant achievements across the state in the field of historic preservation.

“This is Colorado’s premier preservation awards event where we honor individuals and organizations that make significant contributions toward preserving Colorado’s heritage,” said Jennifer Orrigo Charles, Colorado Preservation, Inc., executive director, in a statement. “The evening’s namesake is Dana Crawford, a true preservation pioneer who proved that saving historic buildings makes both cultural and economic sense. Hundreds of preservationists from throughout the state join us at this annual celebration.”

The Dana Crawford Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation this year goes to attorney John Moye, a past president of the Colorado Bar Association and former chairman of the Stapleton Development Corporation, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, Downtown Denver, Inc., and the Colorado Historical Foundation. Moye played a key role developing the Daniels and Fisher Clock Tower and the Stapleton Development Plan, the award’s organizers say. The annual award is in its 27th year.

The award for restoring the Capitol chambers will be handed to House Chief Clerk Marilyn Eddins and Secretary of the Senate Effie Ameen, Charles said.

After then-House Speaker Frank McNulty famously suggested fixing a leaning radiator in the House gallery in 2012, workers removed acoustic tiles that had been applied to the walls and ceiling in 1954 to reveal gold filigreed stenciling on green walls. The Senate, it turned out, had red walls, in keeping with a color scheme for the upper and lower chambers established in the British Parliament. Over the next few years a massive project was completed, restoring the chambers to their 1890s glory.

Charles said it was exciting to see the historic preservation project on such a grand level, particularly in a building that’s still in use every day. “It just kind of creates a better context of space and the grandeur that was there when they first built the Capitol,” she said. “When legislators see preservation in motion, that’s certainly something we love and support.”

Other recipients of the State Honor Awards include former Bent County Commissioner Bill Long, who has supported historic preservation throughout a long career; the Colorado Cultural and Historic Resource Task Force, which works to preserve historic resources when natural disaster strikes; the restoration of the Montezuma Valley National Bank building in Montezuma County; and the Hannah Barker House, one of the oldest properties in Boulder.

Colorado Preservation, Inc., will also present the Endangered Places Progress Award to recognize work toward saving Crossan’s Market, an early 20th century mercantile building, in the small town of Yampa. The organization is inaugurating a new award this year, called the Preservation Edge Award, to recognize a historic preservation project that uses unique and creative methods. The first recipient of the award will be Rangely’s TANK Center for Sonic Arts, a steel water tank with unusual acoustics that has been turned into a destination for recordings and a music education center.

“We are honoring everything from private residences to town offices to something as grand as our Capitol,” Charles said.

The celebration will be held on Thursday, May 18, in the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. CBS4 anchor Tom Mustin is the emcee. The evening will feature presentations on the projects and music recorded at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.