Cloud City Chronicles | Leadville Life

Highlights from

The Herald Democrat

50 years ago

From St. Vincent’s Hospital to Our Saint Vincent General Hospital

June 2, 1972


The changeover beginning June 1, 1972 of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth-operated St. Vincent’s Hospital to the nonprofit community-owned St. Vincent General Hospital involves a long saga of primitive medical facilities in the founding days of Leadville, through a new building, past the threat of competing hospitals, through new methods and scientific research, and down through the years of good and bad: prosperity; financial headaches; epidemics — all of the problems and rewards that come to a public institution in a Western mining community.

Most of this is now behind the nuns. Control of the hospital was relinquished yesterday to the nonprofit corporation, and the nuns no longer have the day-to-day worry about finances and operation to think about. Of the six Sisters of Charity who were staffing the hospital at the beginning of the year, two of them had departed to new assignments several weeks ago. Sister Michael Marie will be gone before the end of the week to undertake her new assignment as assistant administrator of St. Mary Hospital in Grand Junction.

Three of the nuns will remain for up to a year — Sister Christine, Sister Ann Serene and Sister Lucian. The nuns will be living at the Annunciation Convent facilities and working as hospital staff members.

The departure of the nuns from their position of responsibility after a tenure of service that began in late December 1878 was marked with a dinner of honor attended by 56 persons, including business leaders, hospital, medical center and allied personnel, new hospital board, etc .

At this dinner, the process, long and arduous, that took place to ensure a smooth transition was recounted, telling about the board election, meetings, financial considerations, selection of the new administrator, legal aspects, etc. The whole ball of wax involved in a changeover of this nature centered on a viable institution with a worth of $1.6 million.

Presentations were made to the nuns, including a plaque on which were inscribed the thanks of the Leadville area presented by Mayor Ed Kerrigan, on the knowledge that anything given would be small reward indeed for the years of dedicated service to the sick, poor and aged of the mountain area.

Need for New Middle School Projected

June 14, 1972


The Tuesday evening school board meeting, in a large measure, revolved around a three-part subject of new school building, swimming pools and accountability. Present were five members of the Lake County Recreation Board, Jack Brokaw of the architectural firm of Nixon, Brown, Brokaw and Bowen, plus several members of the West Park Intermediate Accountability Committee.

A bond issue was defeated on March 30, 1971 by a narrow margin as voters turned down the spending of $3.5 million for a new Middle School with built-in community swimming pool, a library in addition to Pitts Elementary and a music/band room in addition to the Junior High. Since that time, the two smaller construction projects have been funded out of capital construction funds, completed and are in use.

The issue of the new Middle School, containing grades four, five, six and seven, has been resurrected by the report of the West Park Intermediate Accountability Committee. This committee noted the deficiencies of the four temporary Annex buildings — lack of athletic facilities, no gym or auditorium, no band or music room, no playground, fire and health hazards, inadequate cafeteria, etc. It was stated that any money spent on these four wooden buildings was like throwing good money after bad, and in the end, the district still would have four outmoded buildings.

The Accountability Committee had considered additions to the existing Pitts and West Park Elementary Schools and discarded the idea for a number of good reasons. They recommended the Middle School.

A presentation was then made by Dr. Sullivan and Jack Brokaw of the reasons why the Middle School was proposed in 1971 and what the building plans were.

Cited as reasons for the need was the outdated Intermediate Buildings, the overcrowded Junior High, the need for PE facilities, the great need for a new swimming pool in the area, etc.

The Middle School, as previously proposed, would be located on 19 acres of land provided by Climax between the high school and the Annex in West Leadville. The school would accommodate 1,000 students — the optimum size for four grades, removing the fourth grade from the Elementary Schools and the seventh grade from the Junior High, giving those schools greater room and flexibility. Included would be the physical education area, kitchen, cafeteria, Olympic-size swimming pool, etc.

It was noted that construction costs in Leadville are approximately 30% higher than in the Denver area, and that costs are going up approximately 10% per year due to inflation. Thus the cost of a new school without a swimming pool would be about the same today as the cost would have been when the school was first proposed with a swimming pool.

Since the swimming pool was a great bone of contention when the school was first proposed and may have been the cause of a number of “no” votes, this facet was discussed first.

The Recreation Board members explained that they are still working toward their goal of $200,000 for a new pool. The mill levy raises $16,667 per year, but costs are going up in about the same ratio. The rec board will try to build a swimming pool with tax money plus any available government funds, or to merge this money with school district funds for the new school complex and pool.

The pool, as proposed by the rec board, would not be nearly as nice or functional. They have proposed either pulling up the floor in the Sixth Street Gym and digging a pool there and covering over the area by a floor in the winter, or tearing down the present swimming pool and building a new one just east of there. It would be about the same size as the present pool. Government money is available usually only for outdoor pools.

Everyone seemed to agree that a swimming pool in the new Middle School complex would provide for the best total community use — school students, college students, the general public.

Jim Martin still is opposed to the proposed site and recommended an area near the West Park school. He was told that the district would have to bus students to wherever a school was located. It was further explained that a multilevel building on the proposed location would be less expensive since the protective warmth of the grade could be utilized and that the outside finish costs would be much less.

The various faces of the design were looked at. First came the question of whether the proposed building was too large, and then came the final problem of whether it would be large enough. The initial enrollment of the four-grade Middle School would be some 800 students, using the fall 1972 projections.

The controlled space concept and design was termed very economical since this eliminates hallways, etc. that in a conventional building takes up 10 to 15% of the available space.

The design of the building was termed as still being adequate, still far ahead of its time in design and concept — a good site with a compact, economical building plan. Some of the construction techniques, however, might be different to take advantage of new technology. It was stated that the building would be expensive, but there is no apparent way around school building costs today, and the new building is needed, if one is to believe the accountability report by citizens who studied the situation thoroughly.

The final decision of the long evening was that the project should be programmed, possibly for September or October. The board tentatively agreed that three proposals should be on the ballot — no school at all, a school plan with the swimming pool left out (school and large multi-purpose area) or the plan as originally presented with possible swimming pool modifications.

Father’s Day — Gift or Goof!

June 16, 1972


You don’t have to know the neck size or the sleeve length.

You don’t have to know the bust size for a new bathrobe.

He’d probably appreciate an easy chair if you can afford it.

But if he belongs to the Elks, he can be treated to a steak dinner out in the woods on Sunday for the price of $3.50.

The Leadville Elks Lodge is honoring the men of the lodge by sponsoring a Father’s Day steak dinner at the Evergreen Lakes campground. The steaks will cost $3.50 — and this is where the wives and children can make a gift contribution. If this empties the pocketbooks of mom and the kids, they can have hamburgers for 50 cents.

The entertainment committee hints that refreshments will be “on the house” — er — on the trees.

The Father’s Day “cookout” has become a traditional event for the third Sunday of June. This is much better than charging a Father’s Day gift to Dad himself.

Father’s Day was originated by Mrs. John Dodd in Spokane in 1910.

Mrs. Dodd initiated the celebration to honor her father, who reared her and her five motherless brothers. The custom soon spread to all parts of the country.

Dad should receive a special honor on his day, just as Mrs. Dodd intended. Prior to leaving for Evergreen campground, he could be pleasantly surprised by going out to a car washed and polished for the occasion.

The lawn could be mowed to give him a break.

Other chores he does when he is home could usually be accomplished, making him rested for the Elks party.

Fathers should be made to feel as important as the ladies do when the second Sunday in May rolls around.



Remember when you used to be able to travel Loveland Pass after a few hours of darkness without encountering much traffic unless it was a Sunday night and people were returning home? Well, that relaxed condition is a thing of the past. It’s a chore to drive either way now with the traffic-laden highways. Every other car will be pulling a trailer or a camper or a boat. The slow rollers bottle up the traffic, and maybe St. Christopher is the one who landed on the unemployment list with the saint standing changes a few years ago, but it is a good idea to have him ride with you nowadays.

That Silverthorne turn which has caused trouble in the past where people coming to Leadville off I-70 can still get fouled up through unfamiliarity is in need of better directional signs, no matter what anybody says.


The Russians have had it. The Soviet government has ordered a reduction in vodka production because of increasing alcoholism in the USSR Don’t they know you would have to stay drunk over there to put up with some of their reforms?

A thinking driver never drinks.


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