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Fremont County Prospect Heights Jail

Museum/Structure History: The Prospect Heights settlement dates from 1888, when the CF&I Mining Company opened the Nonac #5 slope mine on Prospect Street. It was a “wet” town in an area bent on prohibiting saloons. But after the saloons’ customer base dwindled when the U.S. Smelter Company shut down and after the state enacted prohibition, the population of Prospect Heights diminished. Finally, when the water system failed in 2000, the town was annexed by Canon City.

The actual detention function of the Prospect Heights Jail ended in 1913, after which the building served several purposes, including as a playhouse and a storage facility. The building was left empty for many years and was in poor condition when the Fremont County Historical Society gained ownership.

Immediate Objective: The Fremont County Historical Society requested a Historical Structure Assessment as the first step in pursuing preservation of the Jail.

History of the Structure: The Jail building is 22 x 20 feet. Exterior walls are made of locally quarried cut sandstone blocks atop an uncut rubble stone foundation. Exterior walls extend above the low slope roof on three sides, forming a parapet wall that steps downward from the front to the back of the building.

The front of the Jail has two openings, one door and one window, both covered with hinged metal bars. On the upper front façade is a non-historic wooden painted sign reading “TOWN OF PROSPECT HEIGHTS INCORPORATED 1905.” The north and south façades have no openings. An original window opening on the west façade has been infilled with CMU block material.

The building’s interior has three main rooms: the front office and two jail cells at the rear. The perimeter walls have been faced with common red brick to which a plaster material was directly applied. The original green paint color is visible in many areas. Each jail cell opening is framed with wood trim that was once painted. Cell doors are iron bars with a sheet metal panel.

The Preservation Mission: With the HSA completed, the Fremont County Historical Society is eager to implement a preservation plan. The ultimate goal is for the Jail to join an existing network of heritage tourism sites in the area.

Funding and Phases

Funding for $7,500 was received from the State Historical Fund.

The Historic Structure Assessment was completed in 2014.

The Principals

Carol McNew, Fremont County Historical society President

Charise Boomsma, Preservation Consultant

Robert Swickert, Preservation Architect

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