Douglas County hopes it can revive the memory of a once-bustling Greenland town site when it finishes restoring the Greenland Post Office this fall.
In late June, the county started its bottom-to-top refurbishing of the post office, one of two remnants from Greenland's former life as a railroad hub. Not only does the post office retain qualities of its 19th-century self, but it was a symbol of community togetherness, and the county would like to preserve that spirit.
“From the history of the post office and what it served for the Greenland town site, it was kind of a central gathering point for that community,” said Kati Rider, the county's assistant director of planning resources. “So, it's always served as that symbol for the Greenland town site.”
Greenland was most active from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. It was located right next to the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which transported 24 passenger trains and 20 freight trains a day, according to the county's virtual history museum. The goods most commonly transported on the trains were lumber, grain, clay, potatoes, milk, cheese and cattle.
With the commerce, Greenland became home to two general stores, two saloons, blacksmith and wagon making shops, and the post office. “When the town site was active, the post office is where people came to get their news, it's where the people came to connect,” said Rider. The post office operated from 1873 until 1959.
Along with the post office, the rest of the town site dissolved into inactivity. Douglas County designated what it calls Greenland Townsite as a historic property in 2011. The school and post office are the only two buildings still around. However, the school has changed over time and was once modified as a home, meaning it has lost some of its historical integrity, said county curator Brittany Cassell.
The county has known for a while that it wanted to restore the post office and preserve it for years to come. In 2019, the State Historic Fund awarded the county a $156,000 grant, which required a 25% cash match from the county, or about $52,000.
The county has commissioned more minor, aesthetic restoration projects at the post office in recent years. However, the current project, which is specifically what the county received the state grant for, is rebuilding the foundation. Rider said erosion over the years has significantly weakened the foundation.
Another goal of the current project is to stabilize the walls, although it's unclear if they will be restored to the original condition. The siding is made of asphalt, which “is pretty unique to this structure,” Rider said. “During that time, people who lived in the area used materials that they could find to build buildings, to restore them, to keep them up.” The county doesn't know yet if the same asphalt siding can be replicated.
The county needs to complete the current restoration by October. It doesn't know when or how it will open the post office to the public yet. Rider said, “the primary focus right now is stabilization of the structure.”
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