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Cortez buildings will be surveyed for historic value

Two dozen properties in Cortez on the south side of Main Street will be surveyed next month for historical significance.

The city received a grant from the Colorado Historical Society to complete the $13,602 study. It’s the fifth such grant the city has been awarded, said Linda Towle, chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Board.

“We’re looking at how the buildings relate to the specific history of Cortez,” Towle said.

Steven Mehls, of La Jara-based Espinoza Consulting Services, will conduct the survey. Property owners are invited to a public meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at City Hall, where information about the survey will be presented and the project will kick off.

In May, after the survey is done, there will be another public meeting in which the survey’s findings will be revealed, Towle said.

The study examines buildings on the south side of Main Street within the boundaries of the original Cortez townsite, Towle said. They include Envy Nail Salon at 209 E. Main St. westward to Slavens Hardware at 237 W. Main St.

To be considered for the city’s historic properties register, a building must be at least 50 years old, Towle said.

Surveyors also examine the architecture and features of the buildings. The building has to retain most of its original features, but surveyors look more at the exterior than the interior, she said.

“They look for how the integrity of the buildings has been preserved over time,” Towle said.

Another way a building can be considered historic is if it was built by, lived in or owned by a person who was important in Cortez history, Towle said. In a previous historic survey of properties along Montezuma Avenue, surveyors found homes that were occupied by some of the first bankers to settle in Cortez, she said. They also deemed historic a home where a hairdresser operated a salon for many years, she said.

Properties on the north side of Main Street have been surveyed, Towle said. The goal at the moment is to take an inventory of the buildings in the city, but some may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, Towle said.

Three buildings already are on the national register: Ertel Funeral Home, the KSJD building, which formerly housed the Montezuma Valley National Bank, and the Calkins School building.

“Not only are they significant to Cortez, they are also exemplary on a national level,” Towle said.

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