Three new sites from the San Luis Valley (SLV) have been added to the list of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places for 2019. The three sites placed on “Alert” status were among those announced at the annual Saving Places Conference in Denver last week. These include the McIntire Ranch and Mansion in Conejos County, the R&R Market in Costilla County, and the Adobe Potato Cellars located throughout the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (group listing).
The Endangered Places list is maintained by Colorado Preservation Inc. (CPI). Each year the organization chooses a few sites to raise awareness regarding the threats to these sites and their condition. Currently there are 122 sites on the list, 47 sites are considered “Saved,” 44 are considered in “Progress,” 25 are on “Alert” status, and 7 have been lost. Seven sites on the list are located in the San Luis Valley.
The previously designated sites in the SLV include: The Rialto Theatre (2008) in Alamosa County, considered “Saved”; San Rafael Church (2001) in Conejos County, considered “Saved”; the Denver & Rio Grande Antonito Depot (2007) considered in “Progress”; and the Fourth Street Commercial District (2009) in Saguache County, considered in “Progress.”
Residents of the Valley have deep emotional connections to these sites. With the community’s help, the nominating entities hope that their listing among Colorado’s Most Endangered Places will rally support to save these cultural and historical sites.
The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is partnering with CPI on the regional, multi-site nomination for the Adobe Potato Cellars. These adobe structures are unique to Colorado and have been able to withstand the elements for decades. According to CPI’s new brochure on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places, potato farming grew to a large scale in the area starting in 1910. By 1930 the SLV accounted for 47% of the state’s potato production. Some of the remaining adobe cellars are rectangular shaped dugouts with gambrel roofs composed of timers and latillas covered with earth, while others are fully above-ground structures.
The Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University, the Bureau of Land Management and descendants of the McIntires, are partnering with the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and CPI on the McIntire Ranch and Mansion site, now owned and managed by the BLM. Albert and Florence McIntire established the ranch on the Conejos River and built their adobe home there near the beautiful McIntire Springs, circa 1880. The main house is a unique example of an unusual method of adobe construction that utilizes molded adobe, comparable in size to standardized bricks, layered in a common bond with five courses of stretchers to one course of headers. The header courses tie together to make three-brick wide walls. Albert served as a Conejos County Judge and 12th Judicial District Judge before being elected Governor of Colorado in 1895. Florence McIntire chose to remain on the ranch and they divorced after his two-year term as Governor. She spent the rest of her life on the ranch, managing it and passing it on to their children. The McIntire Ranch was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. While currently only a few walls, window frames, and remnants remain of this adobe structure, the stories of life on the ranch live on in their descendants and hopefully can inspire future conservation efforts and interest in the history of the area.
The Town of San Luis and the Costilla County Economic Development Council will partner with CPI for the R&R Market. The Market, located in downtown San Luis opened in 1857, making it the oldest continuously operated business in Colorado. Lisa May, an EPP Nomination Reviewer stated, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a timeless and beautiful place where the past so informs the future as San Luis, which is such a timeless and beautiful place in part because it was built around R&R Market.” The market was established in 1895 and is still owned and operated by the decedents of Costilla county pioneer Dario Gallegos.
For more information on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places visit their website at https://coloradopreservation.org/programs/endangered-places/
For more information regarding these endangered sites in the San Luis Valley, contact the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area at https://sdcnha.org.