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Mancos’ Mount Lookout Grange seeks historic designation

Planning and zoning board recommends approval
The Mount Lookout Grange decked out in 2017 for a community dinner welcoming a group of tourists from Mancos’ sister city of Feins, France.

The leaders of Mount Lookout Grange completed the first step in getting their building listed as a historic property in a public hearing on May 26.

Grange president Kathryn Fulton applied to the Mancos planning and zoning commission for a historic designation for the building, which was relocated to Grand Avenue from the other side of Mancos Hill in 1946. She said being listed as a historic place would make the Grange eligible for some needed grants. The commission approved her application, scheduling it for another public hearing before the board of trustees, although some members questioned whether the designation would help or harm the Grange.

Fulton said the Grange is historically significant because of its past as a gathering place for local farmers, ranchers and agricultural activists. It has spent time as a church, a school and the headquarters for a Head Start program, but in 2013 the building returned to its 1950s-era use as a Grange. It hosts a community dinner every month, as well as other frequent social and educational events, and since getting a commercial kitchen in 2017, it has been home to the Mancos FoodShare pantry.

The Grange holds two major fundraisers per year, including the Mancos Bloom scheduled for Sunday, but Fulton said they aren’t enough to pay for building maintenance.

“The stucco is falling off the walls on the old part of the building,” she said. “We really need to have a big infusion of some capital resources to be able to deal with our roof and add insulation and new stucco.”

She and the other leaders hope a historic designation would qualify them for more funding. Members of the planning and zoning commission pointed out that if it was granted, any repair or addition to the building would have to be approved by both the Mancos town government and the state. New commissioner Peter Brind’Amour asked Fulton to be sure the building’s owner, the Colorado State Grange, is aware of the changes a historic designation could bring.

“Even things like signage, changes to the exterior of the building, anything like that would have to come before the (town) board to be reviewed,” he said.

Fulton said she wasn’t concerned about the review process, since she doesn’t plan to drastically change the building’s appearance. She said she expects a bit more leniency on repairs because the grange is seeking historic designation due to the building’s cultural significance rather than its architecture. But she said she would get written approval from the State Grange before bringing her application to the town board.

The planning and zoning commission, which was meeting for the first time after being reduced to three newly appointed members, voted unanimously to recommend the historic designation. Fulton will bring the application before the town board for final approval at its next meeting on May 23.

During the meeting, the new planning and zoning commissioners appointed Perry Lewis, the only returning member, as board chair and Brind’Amour as vice chair. Lewis will serve a two-year term, and Brind’Amour and Catherine Seibert will serve three-year terms. Alternate John Cox, who did not attend the meeting, will also serve for three years.

The commissioners tabled a vote on an application for the second alternate position from Tiffany Hurst, because she didn’t attend the meeting.

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