by Carol Stevens
GARDNER- It was a well-thought-out plan. Build a jail in Gardner to hold lawbreakers until they could be transported to the Huerfano County jail. Plans were drawn and put into place. The building was erected about 1970 or 1971. Sheriff Harold Martinez would be in charge of the inmates. The plans were to have three cells and an office.
The building was near completion when the County Building Inspector had to inspect. The inspector could not pass the building for use as a jail because it was mainly a wooden structure. There was no possible way to confine prisoners without concrete or metal bars.
In 1972, Salvador Aguirre, Hubert Archuleta and Leo Vigil remodeled the building to become a residence. The office became a combination living room/kitchen, one cell became a bedroom, and the remaining cell became a bathroom with a closet. In 1982, Sheriff Benedict lived in the residence for ten years while waiting for his house to be built.
Later on the building was remodeled again. The front was converted back to an office to use as the Sheriff’s substation. In 2000, the back half of the building was used for the Gardner Library. Many local volunteers worked every Saturday for three hours so the people had access to a completely cataloged selection. Betsy Rich, Carrie Lyn and Alice Grow were the regulars who volunteered as librarians. In 2004, the library was moved to the Community Center where the library is still going strong.
The building is now the Emergency Services building, which is currently used by the Gardner Fire Department. The closet, which was once a holding cell, is now used for storage. The library is now the substation for the Sheriff’s Department.