Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fountain's oldest structure?

Does the first Post Office in Fountain still stand?  Consider these facts:

New York Times

As recounted in Marshall Sprague's history of Cripple Creek, Money Mountain, "In July of '73, Miss Lida Womack sent Brother Bob east of Sunview a few miles to Uncle Ben Requa's general store and restaurant at Fountain, Colorado."  The Womacks lived near Rock Creek along Highway 115.  While at Requa's store in Fountain, Bob Womack encountered Professor Hayden and part of the survey team, who spent several summers in Colorado.

Cassius I. Croft first appears in a Colorado Springs Gazette article in 1874, as the postmaster of the town of Fountain.  In a Oct 24, 1874 article, it recounts how Croft presented Professor Hayden with a human skull, possibly from a Ute Indian.  The burial had been found on a 30 foot tall sandstone column some 10 miles east of Colorado Springs.  

Requa and Croft maintained a store in Fountain together for a number of years, but were also partners in livestock, and gold mining in the central  mountains.  These mentions in the Gazette track that history:  In 1876, Requa, Croft and Perkins had bought the Rough and Ready smelter, as reported in the La Plata Miner.   In 1877, merchants Requa and Croft of Fountain were new subscribers to the Gazette.  In 1878, they attended a sheep sheering demonstration in Fountain, along with other men who owned large flocks, including WW Perkins.  In April, 1879 Messrs. Requa and Croft were succeeded at the store and post office in Fountain by Reverend BAP Eaton, who was to make that town his home for some time to come.  Also that year, Requa was in Leadville.  And a year later in April 1880, Requa and Croft sold their store and the land to H. Hutchin for $800.

The property description: the south half of lot 2, and lots 3, 4 and 5 in Block 2, matches up with the land the "The Ark" sits on today, including the one-story building just to the south.  This map is a portion of the 1871 plat of Fountain, and below is a Mapquest screenshot of the same property.  The house at 313 S Main is thought to have been Henry Hutchin's home, and where he ran a store and post office.

The County Assessor gives the construction dates of the Ark as 1880, and the building to its south as 1890, though these could be inaccurate.  The first floor walls of the Ark have been described as two-foot thick adobe, with the second floor possibly having been added later.  When Hutchin bought the Requa property with the store and post office (probably just a desk and not a separate room), he likely utilized the structure already in place.  Could the original Requa store from 1873 or earlier have been remodeled over the years into the present form of the house at 313 South Main?  It is possible that a historic buildings expert could examine the structure or the basement and find clues as to its origin.

The History of the Fountain Post Office, as compiled by Mrs. Peggy Bulkley
     with notes from other sources [editor].


1864 Amos Terrell appointed postmaster, had it in his house
1871 Edward H Gould
Feb 12 1873 Clayton Craft [sic]
Apr 27 1880 Henry Hutchins
Jul 20 1883 Elvina Hutchins appointed postmistress
Feb 5 1886 Albert J Benedict
1897 Grace Hutchins

The Post Office was in Hutchins Store [313 S Main] until 1912, when Grace built a house on Missouri [actually most people think it was this house on west Ohio] and had it there. In 1914 it was moved to the back of the Gore Store [Woodmen Hall]. When Albert Benedict had the Postmaster job he was in the back of the store that Mr. Crabb ran, and he had it in the Terrel place later, it is thought.

A Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette article on August 14, 1901 lists short highlights of Fountain events that week.  These include your typical small town notices of visitors and rainfall, and the fact that Professor Cash of Pinon had settled in the Hutchin house on South Main.  Cash and FE Torbit made a trip to the Springs for business.  The article also mentions that the Hotel Link would be changing hands in September.

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