Two historical Mancos sites are opening their doors for tours all day Saturday.
The Mancos Opera House has been closed for restorations in recent years, as has the old Mancos Times-Tribune building. But members of the public will be able to glimpse the progress that has taken place this weekend.
“We formed the Mancos Opera House Company because we want to revitalize the Mancos Opera House to serve all members of this community for another century,” said Philip and Linda Walters, the present opera house owners, in a news release. “Our goal in this rehabilitation is that the opera house will accessibly serve modern performance and event needs while respecting its history and National Register status.”
The Mancos Opera House at 136 W. Grand Ave. was built in 1910, originally housing a grocery, drug store and a theater. A local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, VFW Post 5231, owned and maintained the site from 1955 until fall 2017, when the post decided to sell the building.
When the building was put up for sale, the Walters of Mancos decided to purchase the opera house. They are planning to “rehabilitate” the building in its original style.
Philip Walters said they are currently finishing up developing the master plan, and should begin construction work this spring. Some of this construction includes adding new roof covering, gutters, ADA-compliant bathroom facilities, and an elevator for access to the theater.
They expect to have this infrastructure project wrapped up by February 2020, although that will not be the end of the job.
“There will be much to do after this phase before the rehabilitation can be said to be complete, but it will make the building much more usable and accessible at the end of this current phase,” Walters said.
“We refer to this project as a rehabilitation, as we intend to preserve the historic usage and fabric of the building, while updating the infrastructure for utility, access and safety,” he added.
Last summer, the Mancos Creative District received a $32,409 grant from the History Colorado State Historical Fund to support the renovation, with the Walters providing matching funds.
The Mancos Common Press is a nonprofit founded in 2013 that is dedicated to the restoration of the Mancos Times-Tribune building, the historic Cranston printing press and the artifacts within the building, located along Grand Avenue next to the Columbine Bar.
The building will be used as a facility for students and graphic artists.
According to board member Betsy Harrison, the Common Press restoration is nearly finished. Wallpaper and work on the facade are scheduled for early June, she said.
Some of the restoration was done by preservationists from the University of Pennsylvania, Harrison said. The Common Press received an $89,000 grant from the Colorado State Historical Society for the renovations, along with $11,000 from the Ballantine Family Fund for a mural on the side of the building. The Ballantine family, which owns The Durango Herald andThe Journal, donated the building to the organization in 2014.
The tours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. They’re free and refreshments will be provided.