304 East Monument Street
Over the period of a few years, David and I purchased many homes in the 300 block of East Monument Street in Downtown Colorado Springs. Having become a haven for Colorado College rentals, and getting very tired of the Police Department showing up three or four nights per week, we decided to start rehabbing these once-stately homes and turning them back into single family dwellings – trying to get back to the tranquility of a family-type neighborhood.
Because we had enough kids of our own that were growing up, we decided to purchase a small apartment building on the northeast corner of Weber and Monument Streets (304 East Monument Street) so that my girls had a place to live as the time came for them to move out of the house. It was on the corner at the opposite end of the block from me, and seemed like a good landing point to help them to move out of the house, but still be close enough to mom to enjoy some home benefits.
When we first purchased 304 East Monument, it was clear that it had been, at one time, a beautiful home. Over the decades, however, many owners had added more and more rooms for rent, putting in walls and dividing once-large spaces.
It was full of dark paneling and 1970s leopard-print carpet when we purchased it. Full of tiny, dark, dirty rooms that hadn’t seen the light of day for many, many years, one by one, as the time came, we started terminating tenants so that we could go in and paint and freshen and brighten each unit. In one unit we removed paneling to discover beautiful pocket doors hidden behind the greasy wall of what was being used as a kitchen.
One unit had a beautiful carved oak mantel. David lived just down the block, and his house had a plain, unexciting mantel. So we decided to take the mantel from the first floor apartment, and thus moved it from 304 East Monument to 326 East Monument. It was quite a sight to see us walking down the street at sunset carrying this hundred pound beauty. We brought the mantel that had been in his house back to replace the one taken, as we decided that a tenant in a one bedroom apartment would be just as happy, and pay the same amount of rent, with just a plain mantel.
We especially loved the woodwork of the doors and the beautiful trim. Since David is a master carpenter, he would often admire the beauty of the grain in the six-paneled oak doors. We were quite shocked one day, in looking at the detail of them, to find out that the grain that we had so-long admired was, in fact, fake. Not only was the grain fake, but the doors were fir and not oak as the grain would indicate. In investigating further, we found that this was a common practice in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it was an art that they had definitely perfected in Downtown Victorian homes.
Another discovery that we made was that we were not the first people on the block who wanted to keep their children close. The man who had built this distinguished home had owned the large corner lot when the house was first built in 1899. As his two daughters grew up and were ready to move out of his home, he built houses for each of them. 707 North Weber was built in 1909 on the north side of the lot, and 308 East Monument was built in 1910 on the east side of the lot.
Seems that the desire to keep one’s children nearby after it is time for them to leave home is not a new concept.