There was little discussion.
It took the Pagosa Springs Town Council less than seven minutes to decide to tear down the little red log cabin in Town
Park that has been home to the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, or PSAC, since 1992. The 21-year-old arts organization is
now without a permanent home for exhibitions and programming.
Little is known about the log cabin other than it was home to the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce before the arts
council moved in and rented the building from the town for $1 initially and eventually $10 a year.
Building inspector Scott Pierce, who presented a report to council before its decision Nov. 3, said the north and east
walls of the log building were rotten almost completely through at the southeast corner and around the large window
opening in the middle of the east wall."
The north wall showed high levels of moisture content and substantial internal rot. Additionally, he wrote, The roof
is inadequate for current required design loads" and showed signs of deflection and sag and the wooden shake roof had
also begun to degrade and rot." He recommended the building not be occupied until repairs could be made and then
suggested that it may not be financially prudent to try to repair this building."
PSAC is negotiating with the town to host its exhibitions in Town Hall on a temporary basis and it plans to continue
offering workshops at the Ross Aragon Community Center. But the only space available for a small office from which to
run the organization is a storage closet at the community center that was originally anticipated to become a
PSAC had originally hoped it could replace the decaying logs and save the building. It received estimates of $7,000 to
$10,000 to replace the logs on the east wall. But when it learned of the additional rotting and roof problems, the arts
council turned to the town for support to share the costs to repair the structure.
But the council seemed to be more interested in Pierce's second recommendation that the building be demolished.
It might end up being a bottomless pit once we get into it and try and replace the logs," said council member Stan
The vote to tear down the structure was unanimous. The move surprised PSAC president Linda Echterhoff, because of the
council's history of raising significant concerns about tearing down other buildings not in historic districts or
listed on historic registries. There was much vocal opposition to the demolition of several structures on Pagosa Street
that once housed Satori and Artemesia Botanicals, and another flap about the sale and proposed demolition of the
Pinewood Inn, which still stands, although it remains a tear-down prospect.
The arts council was founded in 1988 during an economic recession that came after the loss of the lumber mill in Pagosa
Springs that was a major employer. Currently, the organization has a membership of about 200 and hosts exhibitions,workshops and educational programming for the community.
This year, it operated on a budget of about $20,000, down about $7,000 from peak operating years. PSAC has one
part-time employee, a volunteer board and 15 to 20 active volunteers. Echterhoff, an artist, says she has donated
thousands of hours to PSAC, often working seven-day, 50-hour weeks.
The arts enrich our lives. They provide an avenue of creativity. By doing art and performing art, we enrich other
aspects of our lives," Echterhoff said.
Ideally, PSAC would like to find a new home, with Main Street visibility, a larger structure with more space for
exhibits and one that could also house educational programs under the same roof. And plenty of parking.
As for the loss of their little home in Town Park, former board president Jean Smith has mixed emotions.
I'm a little sentimental about it. The building has character, but who am I to say it should be saved?" she said.
Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer and member of the International Association of
Art Critics. Reach her at email@example.com.