Kiowa County School District RE-1
210 West 10th Street, Eads, CO 81036
719-438-2218 (District Office) 719-438-2214 (High School) 719-438-2216 (Elementary)
Eads Gymnasium Rehabilitation Project
First Phase of the Eads Gymnasium Rehabilitation Complete
by Kelly Courkamp
October 11, 2017
For 88 years, the “Old Gym” has been a significant structure on the campus of Eads schools. Every student that has attended school in Eads has memories of the old gym. Thanks to grants from the Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF) and Department of Local Affairs (DoLA), which made the rehabilitation of this local icon possible, students and community members will continue to utilize the gym for many years into the future.
In the spring of 1927, the school district received authorization to construct a new gymnasium to serve as the school (and community) athletic facility and provide space for Domestic Sciences, Manual Training, and bus maintenance and storage. Community members and school officials agreed the building should be fireproof and economical; consequently, the district purchased recycled brick and steel from the Lamar Sugar Factory and substantially reduced the materials cost of construction. Architect Elmer E. Nieman designed the building, and local citizens Merle Mahan, George F. Morton, Calvin A. Benner, and his son, Bill Benner, helped build the gymnasium. When fall classes began in 1929, the Mission Revival-style gymnasium was available for student use. Between classes and athletic practices, students of all ages utilized the building for the majority of every school day. Recognizing the importance of the gymnasium to the community, the school board also allowed the public to utilize and hold events in the building.
The Eads School Gymnasium was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 2013. Significant at the local level in the areas of Entertainment/Recreation, Education, and Social History, the building has been important to the community since its construction. It was the only local gymnasium until the completion of the current high school gym in 1963. In the area of Education, every student in the district has completed elementary physical education in the gymnasium for the past 88 years, while high school and junior high athletic teams use the building daily for weight lifting and practices. For many years after its construction, the building also housed other educational programs of the school, such as Domestic Science/Home Economics, Auto Mechanics, Music, and Drama, which were considered important components of modern curriculum. Additionally, many important school events and activities took place in the building, including concerts, plays, assemblies, holiday programs, dances, and graduations. In the area of Social History, the federal welfare program used the building during the Great Depression to prepare surplus foods to supplement student lunches. Since its construction, the building has undergone some renovations, including blocking in windows on the north and west elevations and closing in the stage for use as physical education equipment storage.
In summary, the Eads School Gymnasium is a significant, highly visible, regularly utilized building for students and citizens in the community presently, not just historically. Unfortunately, the condition of the building has declined over the years, even with regular use and maintenance. Following its designation to the National Register of Historic Places, the school district applied for and received a SHF grant in 2014 to complete a Historic Structure Assessment, which identified critical and serious issues in the building and prioritized those issues into logical phases for rehabilitation. Many of these issues required repair beyond what the district could provide or afford. And so, in 2015, the school district applied for and was awarded concurrent SHF and DoLA grants to complete Phase I of the Eads Gymnasium Rehabilitation.
Work began on Phase I in the fall of 2016. Phase I resulted in complete construction documents from Jessica Reske of Form+Works Design Group (then with hord coplan macht). HVAC (Plains Heating and Air Conditioning) and electrical upgrades (Kent Electric, Adams Electric, and Titan LED) resulted in increased energy efficiency and improved air circulation and lighting. The historic steel frame windows were cleaned, reglazed, and repainted. Although much of the original glass used was cleaned and put back in place, a few of the distinct chicken-wire panes needed for replacement came from a Pennsylvania business that salvaged similar glass from a 1930s era factory. Wattle and Daub Contractors completed the window rehabilitation, which resulted in preserving a unique historic feature and improving the building’s energy efficiency. All work from Phase I met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The school district has applied for a second round of grants to complete the final phase of the building’s rehabilitation during the spring and summer of 2018. In order to be code compliant and allow the building to be utilized by all in the community, ADA accessibility into the building and in the restrooms will be addressed. Updated plumbing in the locker rooms will meet ADA and code requirements while addressing deteriorating plumbing and improving the water usage for the building. Exterior rehabilitation includes adding protective coverings to protect recently restored windows; repointing and repairing cracks in the masonry; replacing non-historic, leaking doors with new, historically accurate, weather-tight doors; and replacing or repairing deteriorated fascia to prevent water leaks. Repairing plaster cracks and painting interior walls and ceilings will complete the project.
Phase I of this building’s rehabilitation has been successful from several perspectives. The energy efficiency of the building has increased, historic elements were rehabilitated and preserved, maintenance issues have been handled, and the school district and public have seen this happen in a timely manner. The partnership between SHF, DoLA, and the school district worked well, as did the coordination of work with all people involved. Rehabilitating the Eads Gymnasium has demonstrated that historic preservation is a viable option for our community to bring life back to our historic buildings.
Eads Eagles Mission Statement
Every pupil has the right to receive the best all around education that his/her mental and physical makeup can absorb regardless of the social, economical, religious status or racial background of his/her family. It is the desire of our schools to furnish an environment for our pupils, which is conducive to mental, physical, and moral development. We believe that a happy, healthy student today will have a better opportunity to be a good citizen tomorrow.
Colorado Department of Ed
2013 John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement
2013 ESEA Reward School for Outstanding Academic Achievement
2016 State of Colorado
Title I Distinguished School of Excellence
Kiowa County RE-1 School Board
Ralph Berry President
Keith Crow Director
Marlynn Eikenberg Vice-President
Darci Johnson Director
Larry Gifford Director
Marty Miller Secretary/Treasurer
Jessica Sierra Director