Union Ice and Coal, gone forever

We’ve been through all this before with the whole “nanny state” thing and big, bad government and Don’t Tread on Me! and whatever.

So I won’t get too deep into it except to say only that if people would just do the right thing in the first place, we wouldn’t need rules and regulations. If, for example, you didn’t just destroy a historic old building because you need “outdoor storage,” then maybe I wouldn’t be pushing for a demolition ordinance.

Olson Plumbing & Heating bought the old Union Ice and Coal building six months ago with the intention of tearing it down. We first heard about Union Ice and Coal a couple years ago when we were researching some houses downtown. It was owned by William Banning, whose daughter (Ruth Banning — of Banning-Lewis Ranch fame) took it over after his death and the death of her brother. And now, after a hundred years, it’s going to be demolished for outdoor storage. Because, like Manhattan, every square inch of Colorado Springs is so valuable, that there really is no other place to store things. Actually, there are probably about a dozen other places nearby for outdoor storage.

In The Gazette story, Olson owner Mike Trapp dismissively says, “I think that it’s funny. The whole thing has sat here for 10 years, and no one has given it a thought.”

I’m not sure that’s the case. Just because people weren’t out there every day oohing and ahhing over the building doesn’t mean people didn’t appreciate it. We did. And not only are we upset that Olson is tearing it down, we’re upset, too, that it’s been neglected for decades.

So here’s what should happen: Before a building older than, say, 50 years, can be torn down, it needs to go through a regulatory process. A historic-preservation board has to approve the plans before any demolition can take place. This seems like a reasonable plan, especially considering that without it, apparently, we can just knock down anything without giving preservation a second thought.

If you think preservation of our historic buildings is important, and if you think we need some kind of regulation to prevent our history from being destroyed, email the City Council. Also, contact Olson Plumbing and Heating if you’re disappointed about what they’re doing.

Tim Leigh, who’s stepped up to try to save Union Ice and Coal, is a good first step. His email is: TLeigh@springsgov.com.

Union Ice and Coal, circa 1940

Here's the Union Ice and Coal building, circa 1940, in a photo courtesy of the Pikes Peak Library District. Note the name change to Union Ice and Fuel.

 

Union Ice and Coal building, circa 1972, downtown Colorado Springs

Union Ice and Coal building, circa 1972, downtown Colorado Springs.

 

Union Ice and Coal building, circa 2000, downtown Colorado Springs

Union Ice and Coal building, circa 2000, downtown Colorado Springs

 

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

Today, the Union Ice and Coal building is rubble.

 

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

 

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

 

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs

Union Ice and Coal building, May 31, 2011, downtown Colorado Springs