The Community Work Days program was developed to involve the public in the preservation of South Park's important buildings and sites while providing educational opportunities about resource conservation. Park County, South Park National Heritage Area’s managing entity, owns twelve historic buildings at six different sites in South Park that require continuous maintenance in order to allow public access. Community Work Days enable Park County to care for these important historic sites while strengthening community pride in their heritage. These events generally take place in the summer and early fall of each year and require pre-registration by volunteers. Snacks, water, and lunch are usually provided by the Park County Office of Historic Preservation along with a tour of the building/site.
In response to a need for larger volunteer projects at our historic sites, SPNHA has also partnnered with HistoriCorps: Workforce for Saving Places. These projects are posted on our Get Involved page.
In September 2012, SPNHA partnered with the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative and Park County Office of Historic Preservation to perform repairs and site cleanup at the County-owned Paris Mill. Twenty volunteers participated in the Work Day as part of a larger day of activities celebrating the former town of Buckskin. Volunteers worked in teams to pick up debris around the site, repair damaged stairs and decking, and to apply metal around the foundation to prevent water intrusion. Students from local Edith Teter Elementary School decorated plywood boards that were used to cover doorways and other openings in order to secure the building from trespass. The repairs performed on the Mill have prevented further deterioration of the structure while SPNHA and Park County seek funding for stabilization and preservation.
The Community Work Days program was expanded in 2013 to include two new sites: the Cline Ranch and the Alma Ladies' Aid Hall. The County-owned Cline Ranch is part of the larger Cline Ranch State Wildlife Area, operated in partnership with Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Volunteers worked at the ranch to secure the buildings, install fences around wells, and remove weeds and debris that were damaging the buildings. Volunteers also returned to the Paris Mill in 2013 to continue securing the building, repairing stairways inside the building, and begin surveying the 16-acre site for a potential interpretive trail. Lastly, SPNHA partnered with the Town of Alma and the Alma Foundation to secure and protect the Alma Ladies' Aid Hall. Our largest crowd of volunteers ever cleared decades of debris out of the building while others worked outdoors to remove a collapsed addition. Their efforts allowed the community to see a future for this important building, which will eventually serve as a new community center.
SPNHA was met with its greatest challenge in 2014 when all Community Work Days were focused on the rehabilitation of the Old Courthouse in Fairplay. Volunteers worked for months to prepare the main level of the Old Courthouse for its new use as offices for the Park County Office of Historic Preservation and the Park County Local History Archives. Nonhistoric materials including wood paneling, carpet, wallpaper, and linoleum were removed to uncover the historic plaster walls and wood floors. While professionals were brought in to refinish the hardwood floors and update electrical, volunteers cleaned, painted, and put the finishing touches on these impressive public spaces.