Reviving a place of culture in Alma
ALMA – Music and laughter may once again ring from the halls of Alma’s Ladies Aid Society building.
Park County Commissioners have approved placing the building on the Park County Historic Landmark Register, the first step in opening the door for historic grants to help repair the building.
“The next step is to try to get it on the state register and to start the work to get a grant to restore it,” said Alma town clerk, Nancy Comer.
The late-1800s building, which stands on the north end of town lilting slightly away from the direction of the frequent high winds, once was the cultural gathering place for the affluent as well as working miners.
Performances by orators, orchestras and traveling companies of actors once filled the hall. Current residents envision returning the building to its former glory as a theater.
This is not the first effort to revive one of Alma’s old buildings. Many Alma residents live proudly in the past. A number of the 100-year-old buildings that dot the ridges of the town are homes and businesses, and the old structures are as treasured as close family members, or the numerous town dogs.
Workers are rehabilitating the stone Alma Community Church next door to the Ladies Aid Society building. Work is expected to be completed on the church in the next few months.
“We’re thinking of using it for weddings and as a community center,” said Comer, whose own wedding was the last one the church has seen for many years.
The guests braved the cold temperatures of December in 2000 in the unheated church for the ceremony, then rushed to the nearby town hall – another building on the historical register – for the reception.
The town hall was once the Alma school, an adobe building that replaced the old Alma school that burned in a fire in 1927. It now houses the police department, town offices, the Alma Library and the town meeting room.
Alma residents restored it to its former glory in 1994. Now it acts as the pivot of the social, governmental and recreational life of the town.
A bandstand, playground and skatepark are just outside the town hall, and plans are afoot to revive softball games on the grounds nearby.
One of the strongest supporters in the residents’ push to re-use and enjoy the historic buildings is the Alma Foundation.
The group, which formed in 1996, conducts fundraisers throughout the year to build a cache of money that has helped with past restorations, bought and preserved recreational land and trails and funded other community activities.
The Alma Foundation hopes to use some of its reserves to create matching funds for a grant to restore the Ladies Aid Society Building, as the latest step in respecting and re-using the buildings of Alma’s past.
Linda Balough can be reached at (719) 836-2585 or email@example.com.
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