The museum occupies part of the downstairs of the old Colona School. Built in 1915, this intriguing landmark features unusually curved decoration and a center entrance foyer that welcomed children from the surrounding area in a grades 1-12 schoolhouse. When high school were consolidated in 1927, it became grades 1-8 and continued until school district 40 was consolidated into school district RE1J in 1948.
The building and the lot were purchased by Colona Grange #259 in 1963 What exactly is the grange? In the years after the Civil War, the National Grange was formed as a way to unite individuals to work towards the improvement of the economic and social position of the nations; farm population. As a fraternal order known as the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, it was one of the first formal groups to admit women to membership on the basis of equality with men.
In 2000, it was designated as a Ouray County Historic Site and a Colorado State Historic Site. Then in 2006, it was included on the Colorado Most Endangered Places list by Colorado Preservation, Inc. In addition to having served as a school, the space is used for community dances, receptions, plays, parties, recitals, fundraising bazaars, and craft shows for the Fortuna Tierra Club, elections, and many other activities.
The Grange is now an organization open to anyone interested in community, state and national betterment, with youth activities and involvement stressed. There are 2,500 remaining Grange organizations in the country, with 60 in Colorado. For the Colona Grange, the current monthly meetings hand centered on a community project of restoring the building. The Grange members are undertaking the restoration of this historic structure and were tentatively awarded a grant of $250,000 from the Colorado Historical Society. The members face the challenge of raising the required $85,000 as a matching contribution to secure the grant. This will cover the highest priority work needed, which includes replacing the roof, windows, and a security system. Soon, Grange members will launch plans for a fund raising campaign.
In July 2007, the Colona Grange leased on two rooms on the north side of the hall to the Ouray County Ranch History Museum. They moved some of their collection of historic artifacts to these rooms and plan on opening to the public in May of this year.
To learn more or to make a contribution to the Grange, contact Wanda Miller at (970) 249-5024, or Harry Loss at (970) 252-1943.
Colona School. ©James Burke
Colona school children, 1923.