Are Grand County residents really going to let Cozens Ranch Museum close?
October 8, 2009
To the Editor:
As a Charter Member of the Grand Count Historical Association I feel Impelled to express my concern at the report that Cozens Ranch Museum in Fraser may have to permanently close its doors for lack of funding and, just as importantly, volunteers.
Is it possible that Grand County would allow this Historic gem, which is one of its few cultural entities, to disappear? Are the myriad newcomers to the community even aware of its existence and have the citizens who supported it and worked for it in earlier years simply failed to realize how seriously attendance has fallen off – largely because of lack of staffing ?
Before discussing the disheartening possibility of losing it, a bit of history is, perhaps, in order:
During the mid 1970s the Grand County Historical Association successfully restored a Hot Sulphur Springs School house and established an award winning Museum which continues to provide educational, recreational and genealogical services to visitors from throughout the United States and many foreign countries. Though professional directors came early into the picture, volunteers were, and are, largely responsible for this success which included as many, if not more, newcomers to the county as “old-timers” .
In the spring of 1987 the Board of the Grand County Historical Association decided to undertake the Preservation and Restoration of the county’s principal early Stage Stop (Cozens Ranch). While awaiting acquisition of the title from the town of Fraser, which took endless hours of discussion, and negotiation they worked out a plan for bringing about a successful project.
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In 1988 the old Ranch, not yet a Museum, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Association received title to the property. In the fall of 1988, the time frame for “Cozens” restoration was set and Long-Hoeft, an Historical Architectural firm, was selected to develop plans.
As the Association undertook a major fund-raising, a $35,000 grant from the O’Fallon Trust provided an encouraging start. (O’Fallons were an early family which traveled by Stage to Grand Lake from Denver each summer, often stopping at Cozens Ranch). A $60,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs then preceded a series of Grants from individuals and Foundations throughout the State which provided over $150,000 ) for completion of the Restoration. The hard work of the Board and interested parties, paid off.
In the fall of 1990 “Cozens ” received the Bancroft History Prize from The State Historical Society.
In 1991 the Museum was one of 21 Award of Merit winners from the American Association of State and Local History.
In 1993 The Denver Posse of Westerners gave Cozens their Fred A. Rosenstock award, including a plaque and $1,000 .
It is obvious that this is no run of the mill small town museum. It is an Historical Gem and something that the County should be nurturing and supporting in every possible way. In a difficult financial period and a time when History plays such a small part in the school curriculum, there is increasing evidence of Tourist interest in Historic Buildings and the stories that surround them. (Ask the National Trust for Historic Preservation). The Hot Sulphur Springs Museum hosts school classes from throughout the county and Cozens used to host a delightful Christmas Party for local school children who came to make decorations and then trim a tree. There were “Pioneer Days” in the summer which attracted crowds who participated in various crafts from “olden Days”; around Mother’s Day there was a quilt exhibit highlighted by an afternoon tea. Volunteers sponsored, worked on and enjoyed these affairs as much as the visitors. All of these events brought the public to the Museum and helped visitors visualize a bit of late nineteenth and early twentieth century life.
For a long time, GCHA has vainly sought a Board representative from the east end of the County and has seen a shrinking pool of volunteers to keep the doors open at Cozens Ranch Museum. Grand County Historical Association has seen its membership, particularly in the East end of the County shrink and thus its income decrease.
Where are all those ‘East End of the County’ supporters who maintained their membership in the GCHA and volunteered regularly and thus helped keep Cozens Ranch Museum open? How about part- time and new residents? Have you visited Cozens”? Do you take your guests there? It’s a grand respite from outdoor activity winter or summer. Are you a retiree with Board Membership experience and some extra time? Are there people who love History and would enjoy, as volunteers, telling others some of the wonderful stories of the Cozens family?
I admit a more than average interest in this dilemma and I have watched with admiration the unending efforts and hard work of succeeding Boards which have kept the Association alive. Surely we can help them revive interest and appreciation for the Cozens Ranch Museum.
Join or rejoin the Grand County Historical Association. Memberships begin at $25. Plan to attend the Annual Meeting in November. Find out more about Cozens Ranch Museum.
For information call Board chair, Yvonne Knox at 970-725-3374, email the Grand County Museum at http://www.grandcountymuseum.com (phone 970-725-3939) or contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope we may revitalize support, attendance and appreciation for a real Treasure in our midst.
Homeowner/part time resident of Grand County since 1952