The story of historic buildings

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The Lakewood-West Colfax Business Improvement District and 40 West Arts District have received a grant to help the area catalogue its historic buildings.

The organizations received a grant of $37,500 from the State Historical Fund, and the Business Improvement District pledged $12,500 to push the total to $50,000.

“This grant is going to help us list the architecture, ownership and uses of all the historic businesses in the district,” said Bill Marino, executive director of the district. “For a building to be historic, it has to be 50 years old or older, and we think we have around 500 buildings like that.”

Marino said all types of architecture styles are present in the area, from turn-of-the-century designs to bungalows. Many of the uses of the oldest building were agrarian, he added, but that certainly is not the only use.

The data will be used as part of an initiative to preserve and celebrate the history and character of the West Colfax Corridor through interpretive signage, educational programs and materials.

“In order to really find out the historic aspects of West Colfax, we need this data available to us,” said Ron Avo, a board member of the West Colfax Community Association. “This will show us the fabric of the area and how we can best build into it.”

Both Avo and Marino said the groups hope to develop tours of historic West Colfax, both self-guided and hosted by experts on the area’s history.

“We can use these buildings to really tell the story of West Colfax,” Marino said. “It’s also the genesis for a lot of other things we want to work on.”

According to Avo, one of those things is a kind of “think tank” for West Colfax, where leaders and residents can formulate a grand vision for the area, one that will fit naturally into the area’s history.

Volunteers will be needed to support the historic resources survey once it gets running, and information about volunteering will be available at a later date.