So, back to tuberculosis. This is the second in a series of posts chronicling some of the tuberculosis-influenced architecture in Colorado Springs. See the first post here.
As you drive along Union Avenue, on the southern edge of downtown Colorado Springs, the small storefronts and retail spaces suddenly give way to this:
The Union Printers Home, built in 1892 by the International Typographical Union (ITU), to serve its elderly and sick members.
A beautiful building, made of “Castle Rock white lava stone, with red sandstone trimmings”, the home was first referred to as the Childs-Drexel Home for Union Printers. It was so named after its first two donors: George W. Childs and Anthony J. Drexel provided a $10,000 gift to the Union, which was used to kickstart the project. The remainder of the more than $71,000 in construction costs was gathered from union members, in some cases a dime at a time.
Once the money was raised, a battle began for where the home would be located. The Union heard proposals from Austin, Texas and the town of Semper, located just 9 miles north of Denver; in addition to Colorado Springs’ winning bid. The Colorado Springs Board of Trade wooed the Union with an offer to provide 80 acres of land and an argument that Colorado Springs served as “the most perfect sanitarium and health resort in the world for the cure of all forms of throat and lung diseases–diseases to which printers are especially liable…”
And so the home opened in 1892 as a 63-room structure referred to as “A Home for the Aged and Sanatorium for Tuberculars of the International Typographers Union.”
An annual report of sorts, published by the ITU in 1901, describes the rooms with words and photos. A small selection of the descriptions:
“On the first floor are the Childs parlors, Drexel memorial parlors, the Henry Ledyard and Jefferson Davis memorial rooms, San Francisco and St. Louis rooms, reading room and assembly hall, and superintendent’s office.
…The appointments of the various dormitories are of a neat and substantial character, being designed to fulfill the requirements and promote the welfare of those who may, from time to time, partake of the bounties of the Home.”
Today, the building still serves a public health function, operating as a private assisted living facility. And while the building is closed to the public, the grounds are open. You can still see it: the building exterior, the property and the head-on view of Pikes Peak, billed as a restorative environment for 120 years.
Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Colorado Springs: City of Sunshine. Colorado Springs: The Prompt Printery, 1917.
International Typographical Union. Union Printers Home. Indianapolis: The Hollenbeck Press, 1901. (Stamped as property of State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.)
Historic photographs are from the Pikes Peak Library District’s online photography archive, and the 1901 UTI brochure referenced above, available through Google books.