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tv   CBS4 News Special Colorados Most Endangered Places 2016  CBS  September 10, 2016 6:00pm-6:30pm MDT

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stories. on the surface, they're tired, broken-down, old buildings whose usefulness has long since passed. but look closer, peer into the shattered glass. walk the weed-grown pathways, feel the decayed wood. you begin to get a sense of history, a sense of place. every day, more and more of these sites succumb to the pressures of time, erasing their role in colorado's history. remaining sites increasingly critical. without their stories, the picture of colorado's past becomes incomplete. these are colorado's most endangered places. walking across an open field and finding an old foundation makes you wonder, what was it for? who built it?
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angered places. i'm tom mustin. for many sites in colorado, those questions will remain unanswered forever, their purpose lost to the pages of history. keeping those stories alive is the work of historic preservationists. each year, colorado preservation incorporated assembles a list of historic sites that are threatened by time, neglect, or development. the site where we are today was added to the list back in 2001. it's camp amache, one of 10 japanese resettlement camps built by the u.s. government during wwii to house japanese-americans. the attention brought to camp amache by the endangered places program has allowed preservationists to begin rebuilding some of the structures that once stood here on their concrete foundations. belying the often controversial topic of japanese internment to be told to future generations. the first site on this year's list takes us back to less controversial times. a time when gold beckoned thousands from the plains to the harsh mountain communities. most people needed to be entertained.
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for more than 125 years, songs have filled leadville's tabor opera house. they say if it played in new york city, it played here. the opera house is part of the silver circuit of traveling shows. and there were three opera houses on the silver circuit. there was one in kansas city, one in leadville, and one in san francisco. leadville started out as an unrefined mining community. mining magnate horace tabor sought a way to bring some it was built in 1879 in just 100 days. they got to make things nicer and they got to, what i would say, class up the town. a night at the opera house began at the box office. the opera house was sold out every night except opening night, because there was a double hanging in town across te street. faces of actors gaze at patrons as they ascend the staircase to the theater.
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a sense of what came before. john philip sousa and the marine band was here four times. buffalo bill, anna held, pretty much all the big names were here. so many famous people have not only graced the stage, but also in audience. greg sandoval grew up in leadville. he remembers performances of big names and small. yeah, i never got to come up on stage as a child, but i remember coming to some of the plays and dramas and some of the concerts here, at the center of leadville entertainment is the historic opera house. it's a rich tradition, and one that the residents of leadville believe is key to maintaining their city's unique identity. leadville is known for its history and its heritage and ths played such a huge role back in the early 1800s when this town was first being discovered and mined. keeping it alive, refurbishing it, and bringing back the performances is very key to our mainstreet efforts.
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r opera house. this is a community project. this will become a cultural center for the city of leadville as well as lake county. buying the theater is only round one. then we can really start to develop what the other priorities are going to take. rehabilitation and preservation is an ongoing effort. it's probably something that will always be happening. ers beginning this summer. so right now we're in the basic preliminary stages of planning the production. it's a form of outreach aimed at generating enthusiasm for the arts and the opera house. i think it's really important not only for the sake of keeping opera alive, but for the sake of keeping this wonderful historic building alive and all the talent that has been on the stage. the hope is to keep these dressing rooms full of names, both big and small.
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philanthropists. to have this bit of horace tabor, what he had built, still in leadville as part of the history for my kids to enjoy, for my grandkids to enjoy, i just think it'd be spectacular. when we come back, we'll hear from a former internee at camp amache. we were given six day's notice. he'll tell us about his experiences and why he says it's so important to preserve the camp's history. what the great western sugar factory means to brighton's
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i'm tom mustin. reconstruction here at camp amache actually began a few years ago. and thanks to the hard work of a lot of groups, a local rancher returned the original water tower to the camp. crews also built a replica of the guard tower on the site
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hey'll show what life was like for 7,500 internees here at camp amache. historic preservation often involves a mix of restoring the old and rebuilding the new as evidenced by our next site, central city's belvidere theatre. the year was 1874. fire had just gutted much of what was called the richest square mile on earth. but the boomtown of central city proved resilient. its greatest disasters had been its greatest blessings. happened then at just that time when the city was prosperous, and the city council could require all of the reconstruction be done in brick, stone, and steel to fireproof the city, this city wouldn't have survived. among the new buildings rising up, a theater, backed by two prominent coloradoans. henry teller, who became one of colorado's first u.s. senators, and a local judge, silas hahn decided to build
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while its time in the theater spotlight would soon be upstaged by the larger central city operahouse, it continued to entertain central city residents. then found other uses. and it was the central city fire department. and then it was a garage with a dealership on the lower level. and then our gilpin school district used the main floor for a basketball court. still, its foundation in the arts never strayed too far away. it became a dinner theater and a movie theater in the 60s and 70s. and if showing movies wasn't enough, the belvidere returned to its former glory for the 1976 goldie hahn, george segal film, dutchess and the dirtwater fox. through it all, the belvidere served as a community icebreaker. people that you wouldn't talk to at the post office or you'd ignore walking down the street, you'd suddenly find had a
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d in the casinos which line the streets. the casinos are our lifeblood and the money that comes from gaming helps a lot of public endeavors. the belvidere seemed to be a good fit for a renewed purpose. because it was a big open property, people thought it woud make an excellent casino. that gamble didn't pay off. and it passed through a succession of owners and basically fell on hard times. gilpin county took possession of the building for back taxes owed. the casinos came to town. one of the things that we're really working now is for a balance in our town between the gaming industry which we support and it's been really great for us, but also to diversify an have a much more vital town. the city sees the belvidere as an event center, where the community can once again come together to rub shoulders with each other. there's not a lot of public buildings that could be a
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high school event. i can remember when it was a really vital building. a lot of fun times in my life were spent in this very building here. with a little luck, residents hope the belvidere can rise up once again. as you come in to central city, you see the belvidere, it's one of the first buildings you see and it's in a very poor state. this building needs to be restored, as part of the city's efforts to revitalize the downtown of central city. it being a disaster right now, from the condition it's in, to be rebuilt as a keystone of the economic development of the city and a keystone of the community may be one of the great blessings that this building can provide. the restored barracks is one of more than 300 buildings that comprise camp amache. the amache museum here, the nearby town of granada houses photos, artifacts, and other artwork done by the internees that were held at the camps. former internees have also left personal memories here.
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this is a project i did. memories of amache fill the shelves of bob fuchigami's home. i just turned 12. all of our lives were disrupted. in may of 1942, the government ordered his family off of their california farm, and into the camps. we had the governor of california saying things like, well they haven't done anything wrong, but they might do something wrong. that's no justification for putting us in to these so called concentration camps. they packed light. you're allowed to take two suitcases. they didn't know where they were going. we had no idea we'd end up in colorado. or we would have brought warmer stuff. living conditions were a far cry from what they'd enjoyed before. there's one light bulb hanging down and one layer of brick floors. the first thing we did like everybody else was try to
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the circumstances. people tried to improve their barrack rooms. they built a school, and then we built a community store, or a co-op. still, trips outside the camp shed light on their reality. some stores wouldn't even serve the people who came in from amache. they just say, no japs allowed, you know, and stuff like that. it wasn't very pleasant to be living under those kinds of conditions. for three and a half years, bob and his family made the best of a bad situation. the only thing i wondered about was why were we in there. 70 years later, he still questions the culture of fear surrounding amache. you'd be surprised about how many people still have no clue on what happened in the 40s here. history teacher john hopper's helping teach the effects of that fear.
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at camp amache. that opportunity has turned into the student-run museum teaching them history not taught in any textbook. you soak it in like that it's not just a history, it's like people's stories and it's just really affected me. john's next step, putting those stories in their original context by restoring the camp itself. site for the most endangered list. at that point, i mean, you're looking at it. there really wasn't much interpretation here, even though it was open to the public, there weren't any signs, there weren't any buildings. because of that listing, amache received grant money for reconstruction and interpretive signs. so the people that are in this area or if traveling through this area actually get to experience what japanese-americans had to experience.
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remembered. bob says the lessons being taught at amache are still relevant today. people are saying, oh, we don't trust them, we don't -- we got all these negative things being said about them. and i look back and i think, that was the same thing that they were saying about us. agriculture was a big part of life here at amache. in fact, it was largely self-sufficient. coming up, we'll take you to brighton where sugar beets eartbeat of that community. and will car horns ultimately drown out the big bands at
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i'm tom mustin. the barbed wire and guard towers here at amache served as constant reminders that the internees were not really free. even so, they did what they could to make life as normal as
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om the arts. the arts are central to many communities. and our next site took center stage. boulder's huntington bandshell. every town has their landmark building. they're a very important structure that is a symbol of te town. for many boulder residents, that landmark is the huntington bandshell, named for its designer, glen huntington. he was really the father of modernism in boulder. he also designed the boulder high school and the boulder the university. modernism is all about form follows function, so you really see these expressive forms that support the acoustic projection of sound and the support of people standing on the stage or performing on the stage. the bandshell opened to much fanfare in 1938. since then, countless acts and events have graced its stage.
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boulder is invested in its community to bring culture and education to the town. i took acting lessons here in the early 60s during the summer from joan van ark. right on the stage here at the bandshell. kathryn keller spent many hours at the bandshell as a child. it was a real family gathering place for much of boulder. boulder was smaller then and many of us could ride our bikes or walk here. but times have changed. child loose to ride their bike down to central park for a day by themselves. and that's prompted the city of boulder to take a fresh look at the historic site. so we're looking at how to really make it a center of activity for the community year-round. they put out a call for ideas to get the conversation started. recognizing that the site itself has changed. the context has changed quite a bit. so what are options to support its historic use as a
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of those revitalization efforts. no one in this process has talked about tearing it down. there's been discussion about relocation. taking the show on the road could be a bumpy ride. the landmarks ordinance in boulder is one of the early landmark ordnance in the state of colorado. at issue, the city designated the bandshell and surrounding area as a historic landmark 20 years ago in an effort to stave off an attempt to demolish the site. the city designated it for a number of reasons, but architectural history, because of it's environmental significance. if you move it, the historic significance of the property is damaged. perservationists say that would undermine the relevance of the city's pioneering statutes. we have a very good historic preservation program in the city of boulder with about 1,300 buildings under the protection of the landmarks ordinance.
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the ability of the city to obtain further landmarks. boulder planners say whatever happens will honor the historic context in which the bandshell was first built. we have people engaged in the process who believe that by relocating, we can actually enhance its historic value in terms of function as a bandshell. the idea of moving that into the park somewhere really doesn't make a lot of sense when you look around where would they move it to that the issues would be any different. a landmark is a permanent thing. the other landmarks in town are really permanent. the city in my view should be a very good steward and be a very good example to the rest of the town. agriculture's always been the lifeblood of colorado's eastern plains. and many of the internees here at camp amache were farmers. and they adjusted quickly to working the fields to provide food for the camps.
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german prisoners of war worked the fields in northern colorado to help support a thriving sugar industry. our last site was crucial to that industry. the great western sugar factory in brighton. when we see these white sugar silos, we know we're home. they say home is where the heart is, and for many in the city of brighton, these white sugar silos at the great western sugar plant are the heart of the community. they refer to the great western sugar company like it's one of their friends, not a factory or a business. but sugar was business on colorado's eastern plains. big business. this one, it missed the harvest. john weigandt's family has been a part of that business for four generations. it was a very big part of the community. there had to be a contract signed between the two every year. the growers and the factory owners. the sugar beet industry seemed uniquely fit to colorado's eastern plains.
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it was a fabulous industry. well-managed, very much grower-oriented. for much of the 20th century, it provided the backbone of northern colorado's economy. we'd haul them to the railroad track. that's where our dump station was. from there, the train would come right here to the factory. the factory was great western sugar's brighton processing ty had been trying to get them out here for quite a while. in about 1916, they decided they did need to have a factory here and so they came out and built the place that was finished in 1917. it was one of 13 such plants operated by great western in colorado. and brighton's largest employer. this end here is what we called the sugar end. chesney criswell worked at the plant.
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you bring a beet in, you slice it, it goes into a diffuser, which was, it just squeezes the juice out of the pulp. the pulp goes from there towards the dryer end to make cattle feed. the juice comes to the sugar end and then from there it's processed into sugar. and then from there into the silos. the plant was the flagship for great western, even everyone was really excited about it. it was really a big deal here in town. the sugar beet industry began to decline in the 1960s. the brighton plant fell victim to that slowdown in 1977. one day i had a job, the next day they handed me my walking papers. 8 years later, amalgamated sugar bought the factory to use as a distribution center. today, they only use a small portion of the factory.
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you know, or we're not doing any business here. the unused buildings, including the processing plant, are currently slated for demolition. we're working with them to see what we can do to prevent part of the destruction, but some of it obviously has to be destroyed because of the health and safety issues. preservationists and city leaders are working to come up with alternatives. we're bringing in a structural engineer to take a look at it about possibilities. the hope is to find a use that can benefit amalgamated and restore the factory to its former role as a community center. these historical places can be used, they can be repurposed. where the treasured place is still there or our heritage is still there. for more information on these sites or any of the sites on the endangered places list, head to colorado preservation
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the endangered places list. the work done by preservationists here has made camp amache the 39th saved site. preservationists hope that amache can serve not only as a lesson from the past, but as inspiration for the future as they look to save so many other chapters in colorado's rich history.
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