Raising money for repairs

Perry-Mansfield needs $400K more to renovate building

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Built in 1880, the building known at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Cabin as "Cabeen" is the oldest building in Strawberry Park and one of the oldest in Routt County. It creaks and moves like an old man.

During the 120 years of its existence, Cabeen has grown with room additions, "a little here and a little there," said Jim Steinberg, committee chairman for the school's capital campaign. "But the way things were done back then, there was no thought to long-term things such as the fact that there was no foundation."

As the ground shifts from the freeze and thaw, the building shifts with it.

"Different parts move in different directions at different times," Steinberg said.

The cabin's movement prompted Perry-Mansfield, aided by a grant from the Colorado Historical Society, to commission a Historical Structures Assessment.

Among other renovation projects, the performing arts school plans to jack up the building, fix the foundation and update the aging electrical system. The roof also will be replaced.

Perry-Mansfield uses Cabeen for housing and music classes. Upon renovation, it will be turned into a museum dedicated to the history of the school. It also will house guest artists and some classes, Steinberg said.

In the 1930s, '40s and '50s, when Portia Mansfield and Charlotte Perry lived in Cabeen, the porch was the hub of social activity at the school.

"We would like to see that restored," Steinberg said.

To pay for the cost of the renovations, the school has been running a campaign to raise money.

According to a news release, Perry-Mansfield has received matching grant pledges of $200,000 from the Gates Family Foundation and $150,000 from the Boettcher Foundation, along with a $150,000 donation from an anonymous source. The camp already has raised $1.6 million, but the three grants are dependent on the campaign raising an additional $400,000 by April 1.

"From here on out, every dollar that is donated turns into $4 once the matching grants kick in," Steinberg said.

Beyond repairs and renovations to the Cabeen building, the money will be used to upgrade the water and sewer system and to renovate another building, called the Main Lodge, built in 1918.

The Main Lodge houses the kitchen and dining room for the camp.

"It's a very old building that has no foundation," Steinberg said. "It needs a lot of structural attention."

Steinberg has been a volunteer at Perry-Mansfield since the 1980s, he said.

"I was not only impressed with what they do, but it's also such an incredible campus," he said. "This is such an important local institution. They give kids that are local a big break on tuition and, in fact, are very partial and helpful to the local community because they have been so helpful to us.

"In order for us to continue, we need a first rate facility -- a reasonably modern facility."

Anyone interested in contributing to the campaign may call 879-7125.

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