Get out your walking shoes for new guided tours of downtown Colorado Springs

Published: January 10, 2014, 8:00 am, by Bill Vogrin
Located in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 270 S. Tejon St., is "Place" by Denver artist Michael Brohman, who erected icons of the rural West atop three columns. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

“Place” is a bronze in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 270 S. Tejon St.,by Denver artist Michael Brohman, who erected icons of the rural West atop three columns. Photo by Bryan Oller courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

 

Located in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 270 S. Tejon St., is "Place" by Denver artist Michael Brohman, who erected icons of the rural West atop three columns. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

Located in front of the El Paso County Courthouse, 270 S. Tejon St., is “Place” by Denver artist Michael Brohman, who erected icons of the rural West atop three columns. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

Ever wondered about some of the amazing artwork scattered around downtown Colorado Springs?

Have you found yourself pondering the bronze of William Seymour standing next to a bench outside the Pioneers Museum? Did you know he was the first black juror in El Paso County? (And the museum was the courthouse.)

Maybe you wondered what ever happened to the old Colorado Springs Opera House on Tejon Street where silent film star Lon Chaney worked as a prop boy and later made his acting debut in 1902 before achieving superstardom in Hollywood in silent classics “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” in 1923 and “The Phantom of the Opera” in 1925.

Then get yourself downtown Saturday morning at 9 a.m., grab a coffee and join the new Core Culture monthly walking tour being sponsored by Downtown Colorado Springs, the primary advocacy group for the business, retail, government and entertainment district.

The William Seymour statue by Stephanie Huerta. 2010 File photo courtesy of Matt Mayberry, Pioneers Museum.

The William Seymour statue by Stephanie Huerta. 2010 File photo courtesy of Matt Mayberry, Pioneers Museum.

On the second Saturday of each month throughout 2014, folks will be able to take a similar walking tour, though the topics was rotate. The will vary from Art on the Street to historic buildings to important people in the development of Colorado Springs. The tours will focus on sculpture and important buildings in the business district.

“It will be an hour-long guided tour,” said Lara Holman Garritano, a manager at Downtown Colorado Springs.

The inter-active scuplture "Play Date" by  Melanie Piech of San Francisco, is located on the northeast corner of Acacia Park. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

The inter-active scuplture “Play Date” by Melanie Piech of San Francisco, is located on the northeast corner of Acacia Park. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

She will host the first tour, in fact, which will leave from the second floor of the Perk Downtown coffee house, 14 S. Tejon, and wander through the streets celebrating the 15-year-old Art on the Streets program which acquires a dozen or so sculpture for temporary exhibit scattered throughout downtown.

Since it began, Art on the Streets has resulted in 50 pieces of art being permanently installed downtown, Garritano said.

“The tour will visit most of the 11 pieces included in this year’s Art on the Street exhibit,” she said. “People who attend will hear information about the works, the artists and how they were installed.

“We hope they will gain a perspective on public art and the role it plays helping create our sense of place.”

There will also be an on-line component allowing folks to take self-guided tours using mobile devices.

The folks at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum will host the other two historic people- and places-themed tours.

The Colorado Springs Opera House as it appeared in 1885. Courtesy the Pikes Peak Library District Special Collections.

The Colorado Springs Opera House as it appeared in 1885. Courtesy the Pikes Peak Library District Special Collections.

“We’ll tell stories about downtown,” said Matt Mayberry, museum director. “We’ll explore some of the historic buildings including the museum and the opera house.
“And we’ll talk about some of the businesses and buildings no longer downtown, such as the Cotton Club and Peck’s Corral.”

Immediately, as a fan of history, I wanted to know more.

Of course, I know the Cotton Club was Fannie Mae Duncan’s legendary club and one of the few places blacks could eat, drink and enjoy entertainment like comedian Flip Wilson, musicians such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Muddy Waters and Little Richard.

But Peck’s Corral was a new name for me and Mayberry filled me in, explaining it was a livery stable where a parking garage now exists.

“It was the place you kept a horse while you were in town or rented a carriage,” Mayberry said. “Isn’t it funny that today it’s the place we park our cars?”

That’s exactly the kind of thing I love and folks on the walking tours will hear about on their morning strolls with tour guides.

Actually, Mayberry’s staff used to offer walking tours and he’s glad they are coming back.

“Part of our mission is to communicate the history of Colorado Springs and downtown,” Mayberry said. “This is a great way to introduce people to the people and history that makes us unique. We really appreciate the Downtown Partnership working with us to make this happen.”

Count me in and make mine a decaf with cream and sugar!

The sculpture "Stranger Reduction Zone" by Denver artist TImothy Flood is located in front of the south tower of the Plaza of the Rockies, 121 S. Tejon St. The artist envisions it as building community one person at a time by encouraging viewers to meet and greet each other. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

The sculpture “Stranger Reduction Zone” by Denver artist TImothy Flood is located in front of the south tower of the Plaza of the Rockies, 121 S. Tejon St. The artist envisions it as building community one person at a time by encouraging viewers to meet and greet each other. Photo courtesy the Downtown Partnership.

DETAILS

Downtown Colorado Springs is sponsoring “Core Culture” walking tours on the second Saturday of each month throughout 2014, beginning at 9 a.m., Saturday.

The cost is $10 for adults. Children 17 and under are free. Tours meet on the second floor of the Perk Downtown coffee house, 14 S. Tejon St. and last one hour.

Tour subjects will rotate monthly between a look at Art on the Streets, Historic Places and Downtown Bronzes.

The fee covers the tour and a hot drink from the Perk Downtown.

For more information and to pay online, visit DowntownCS.com or call the Downtown Partnership at 886-0088.

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