Soroco Middle School goes for historic register

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— A south Routt school building with its roots in a U.S. Cavalry camp may be put the Routt County Register of Historic Places today, and school officials hope to benefit from the designation.
Routt County commissioners will consider adding the Soroco Middle School, first known as Oak Creek Union High School, to the register in honor of its historic value of the county.
The school was built in 1923 on top of plumbing infrastructure left by the U.S. Cavalry.
The troops came to Oak Creek and declared military rule in 1910 to subdue a violent mining strike. They set a permanent camp on the hill, including plumbing infrastructure.
When military rule was lifted and the troops left in 1917, town officials decided that the spot, already complete with plumbing, would be perfect for a much-needed high school to serve Oak Creek.
Nearly 80 years later, the building is still being used as a school, but district officials say it needs to be completely renovated.
That's where a historic designation would come in handy.
"It means the the building can now receive funds from the Colorado Historic Society," South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones said.
The district is applying for a $400,000 grant from the state society to pay for a historic refurbishing of the building. That would include refinishing the building's stucco to its original style and replacing doors and windows with replicas from the 1920s.
"We'll be bringing the building back to 1925, the way it was originally finished," Jones said.
It will be an important historic preservation project for the county, historic preservation specialist Laureen Schaffer said.
"That style of building is somewhat rare in the county," she said.
The school was built in the mission style, which was a popular architectural type of the time, but most similar buildings are no longer standing.
The building also has some important cultural and historical significance to south Routt, Schaffer said.
"And where it's located, up on the hill, it's a striking element to the whole community," she said.
But plans to return the school to its 1920s appearance won't take away from its educational purpose, Jones said.
The district also is applying for a $300,000 energy impact grant to pay for other needed upgrades. Officials also hope south Routt voters will pass a multi-million dollar bond issue in November pay for other building projects at the middle school.
The plan is to maintain the historic flare of the old Union High School on the outside and upgrade to the modern-day Soroco Middle on the inside, Jones said.
If the county commissioners put the building on the historic register, Jones plans to submit the grant application to Colorado Historic Society in October and hopes to know if the district will get the money by January.
Word of the energy impact grant is expected in April.
Other buildings that commissioners will be considered for the register at 3 p.m. today are the St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Oak Creek and Ralph Drake House (Photo Express House), both in Steamboat Springs.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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