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You can take the church out of the building but you can’t take its memories

by Carolyn Newman
WALSENBURG — From healing souls to healing bodies, the building now known as the Outreach and Women’s Clinic, 129 Kansas, Walsenburg, has had multiple lives.
Way back in 1927, the members of the Community Church decided to build a community center for its use and for others – a big decision to take on the $40,000 debt.  Within 11 years they had the debt down to just $2,000.
It was feasible to take on the debt, after all the church had 266 members.  The new building was a “splendid religious education plant”, wrote the pastor, the Rev. Vernon Rice.  “We’ve just begun,” Rev. Rice said on the tenth anniversary of what was called the Community House building.
If you listen carefully you may still hear the shouts of the Boy Scouts, the chattering women of the Community Women Workers, and the clink of dishes as the Rotary Club met for its noon luncheon.
Upstairs was the large auditorium with a stage.  Tables were set up there as the famous smorgasbord buffet dinners became a fundraiser.  Downstairs were the many meeting and Sunday School rooms.
All that ended in 1961 when the Community Church merged with the Methodist Church just a block away to form the United Church of Walsenburg.  The Community Church itself was torn down; that spot is now the parking lot.
The newly formed United Church, meeting in the larger former Methodist church, remodeled those downstairs meeting rooms of the Community House into apartments.
Still later the hospital district bought the building and set up doctors’ offices and now the Outreach and Women’s clinics.
Reminders of the past are here and there throughout the city.  On the ground near the front door of the United Church is the cornerstone labeled Presbyterian Church 1903.  A stained glass window from the church is beautifully lit in the Walsenburg city hall chambers.  Two more windows grace the United Church sanctuary.  A pulpit is in use at the United Church.
Shifting building uses, shifting population trends, and shifting priorities are just a normal part of any community.
Information is from a March 4, 1938, World-Independent newspaper and from the booklet “A Narrative History of the United Church of Walsenburg” by Dorothy Rose Ree.
The History Detective is a service of the Huerfano County Historical Society, which has its headquarters and archives at the Heritage Center, 114 W. Sixth Street, Walsenburg, CO 81089.  719-738-2346.  John Van Keuren is manager.  The Historical Society has its collections in the Francisco Fort Museum, Main Street, La Veta, and in the Walsenburg Mining Museum, 112 W. Fifth Street.  Sharon Vezzani is president of the society.