by Nancy Christofferson
LA VETA- It is appropriate that the Huerfano World Journal found a home at 213 S. Main in La Veta. The paper represents a long-lived family in publishing, and the office building is a historic structure that has served many uses.
The office shares quarters with Karen Bayci’s well-established Casa de Pajaros, just across the street from Charlie’s Market. From Main Street, the building appears not only venerable but very Spanish in style.
The original building went up in 1882. It served the Colvin family as their workplace and residence. The Huerfano Herald of August 24, 1882 reports the building, designed to house the post office, would be adobe on the back and sides, and brick on the front. The Colvins lived behind. J. Dexter Colvin became La Veta postmaster in 1879 and married M. Savitta (or Sylvia) in 1880. She became assistant postmaster. For some added income, J.D. also was a notary public and justice of the peace.
J.D. planned the new post office with an eye to both function and attractiveness. It would, he said, have the boxes in a half-hexagon with the general delivery desk in the center. On the right would be the window for registry and desks for the public to use.
Sadly, J.D. did not live to see his creation in its completed state. He died of tuberculosis in November of 1882, and the post office opened about a month later, a few days before Christmas. Hours were 7 am to 9 pm weekdays and Saturdays, and on Sundays, 9:30-10:30 am and 4-5 pm. Mail times coincided with the pickup and delivery by the mail car of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. J.D.’s wife became the new postmaster just weeks after his death.
J.D. had come to La Veta, probably for his health, in 1876 and bought a ranch five miles south of town. As postmaster and justice, he must have been well regarded. Now, this writer was a Colvin herself, so has a passing interest in others with the same last name. He appears to be no relation, according to Colvin family genealogist, the late Sara Murphy, but still…
His widow remained postmaster until about 1887, as M.S. Colvin. With at least one small child to raise, she remarried, became Mrs. M.S. Kennison, and disappeared from La Veta. Her building was sold and became commercial space.
In 1897 Judge Henry and Alice Daigre bought the building. Judge Daigre is best known for co-founding the town of La Veta with John M. Francisco when they established their trading post and ranch in the plaza they built. He served as county judge in the 1880s but by the time the Daigres bought the property for their residence, he was in declining health. Mrs. Daigre went into the millinery business and sold her hats in a shop in the building. In 1899 she had the structure underpinned and strengthened by one of the Coleman brothers. After her husband’s death in 1902, she went back to teaching school, and rented rooms in this location. It was both a rooming house and a boardinghouse. For the office space, her favorite tenants seem to have been physicians. Dr. R.A. Mathew was the first, renting the space in 1900. Dr. Mathew was followed by Dr. S. Julian Lamme shortly after he was graduated from medical school and entered practice in 1904. S.J. lived in the home in the rear of the office for a spell. When Dr. Lamme moved out he was replaced as a lessee by a lady dentist, and then a civil engineer, and more meat markets rented the premises along the way.
Dr. J.B. Wright came to La Veta in 1893. He was known to local residents as both the hero of the smallpox epidemic of 1899 and as a drunkard. In 1902 he married Rosa S. Roush. Dr. and Mrs. Wright leased and then bought the building from Mrs. Daigre in 1922. Besides having his office here, Dr. Wright and his wife lived in the rear rooms. After he died in 1923, Rosa had more rooms added and began taking in boarders. Her renters were often railroad men who bunked around town while waiting for their next shift, but she had higher ambitions, or needed long term renters, and renamed her Columbine Rooming House the Columbine Hotel.
It was Rosa Wright who in June 1926, or 85 years ago, gave the old building a facelift. She redesigned it with a Spanish mission style façade, which it retains today. The interior was also redesigned, but remained a warren of little rooms.
Rosa sold the Columbine Hotel in June 1931 to Ora B. Lauth, who was the school superintendent, and his wife Wilma. The Lauths took in a few boarders, and fixed up an old adobe building in the backyard for a local pensioner, junk dealer Stanley Snyder, to live in. The Lauths in turn sold to Albert E. and Mary Foote in 1942. A.E. was the son of the old curmudgeon and newspaper man A.A. Foote, and was born and raised in La Veta. He was employed by the Denver and Rio Grande Western and by the state highway department, so the couple did not need the extra income generated by renting out rooms. A.E. died in 1958 and his widow stayed in the home with her daughter Shirley and granddaughter Leslee Filer for many years. Mary died in the ‘90s and the home was sold and reverted to a commercial property. Since that time it has been home to the Bayci business, a health food store and real estate office, and now, as it approaches its 130th birthday, the La Veta office of the Huerfano World Journal.