What's Historic about Mancos?

I regularly receive questions about what makes Mancos an historic town.

Our town, as we are all well aware, is a small community. According to the most recent census, there are 1,300 residents in the town limits. And yet, within this tiny community are six structures designated as historic by the town and/or the state or national historic registers.

The newest structure to be recognized by the town as historic in April, is the Mancos Times Tribune building. Since 1910, the structure has housed the Mancos Times Tribune. Its function and use have not changed. Tom Vaughan, former editor of the Mancos Times Tribune, said he believes the Mancos Times Tribune may be the oldest continuously operating business in the downtown district of Mancos. University of Pennsylvania staff and students have been working with the Mancos Common Press Steering Committee to preserve and restore the structure. They have also brought the Cranston Press within the building to working order this summer.

The Bauer House, corner of Main and Bauer, is on the State Historic Register only. Originally, Bauer House had a widow's walk that skirted the top floor of the home. However, in the 1940s, the Ansel Hall family was living there and they needed more room for their growing family. The widow's walk was removed from the top floor; large dormers were added; and additional living space was created. Because the house does not retain its original appearance, it could not be placed on the National Register. However, state guidelines for historic places are not quite as rigid. Besides, I think we would all agree that the home is beautifully built, lends historic character to our community and was built by George Bauer, an important historic figure to our town. It certainly deserves recognition and preservation.

The four structures on the National Historic Register include: The Bauer Bank Building, corner of Main and Grand; the Opera House, above the VFW on Grand; the Wrightsman House, corner of Bauer and Mesa; and the Mancos High School, on Grand. The people of Mancos take a great deal of pride in their historic buildings. Few people are aware of the months and years of dedication it takes to seek historic designation and the amount of financial commitment it takes to restore and maintain these beautiful, old buildings. The Opera House remains a work in progress to this day. There are other buildings in Mancos that possess historic importance in the town but have not sought historic designation. For a list of the historic structures in Mancos and a map with information about each building, come by the Visitor Center and pick up a copy of the "Tour Historic Downtown Mancos" brochure.

The slogan used by the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce states, "Where the west still lives." The Chamber and Visitor Center use the cowboy as a logo. The cowboy is also seen in Boyle Park and now the Town of Mancos uses him on the signs along the highway. The community acknowledges the influence that cowboy culture and heritage have had on the development of Mancos. Farming and ranching remain important economic mainstays for the entire Mancos Valley. The cowboy image is uniquely American. The style of dress, from the cowboy hat to the boots, is recognized around the world. Tourists come to Mancos not just for Mesa Verde. They come here to experience the "West."

Reach Dian Law at (970) 533-7536 or email at dhlaw4367@gmail.com. Be sure to check out our website - www.mancosarts.org.