Heller Guest House nears completion; open house on May 15

May 7, 2012

Ryan Adams
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The Heller Center for Arts and Humanities will have an addition this summer. After nine months of construction, the Heller Guest House is in its final stages of renovation and will be ready to house artists, scholars and musicians looking to do their work there.

“The building was dedicated to Herman Raymond, who was a famous local artist in the Colorado Springs area,” said Perrin Cunningham, who is the director of the Heller Center. “We received an anonymous donation of $400,000 to renovate the building and make it a place for people to come from all over the country to stay to do their work at.”

The Heller Center is a 36-acre plot of land on the north campus in tribute to Lawrence Heller, who was a local Colorado Springs artist. Both Lawrence and his wife Dorothy lived on the land, and after a 60-year residency, donated it to UCCS to house Lawrence’s paintings. Heller’s paintings are in the main house, while Raymond has his work featured in the guest house.

“Larry Heller’s main purpose in establishing the Heller Center was for others to celebrate and engage in creative works of arts and humanities,” Cunningham explained. “The Heller Center Guest House is important because it will be a place where artists, musicians and scholars from all over the country can stay in. They can do their work in the Heller Center Studio and put on events for Colorado Springs to see.”

Besides wanting to continue Heller’s purpose of the establishment, Cunningham said the guest house was in really bad shape and needed a renovation. “There were stability issues − lots of cracking in the walls and floors, and things needed to be updated,” she said.

Because the building is considered a historic site, Cunningham and the construction team needed to follow historic preservation guidelines that are set by the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historical Preservation.

“We had to use historically accurate materials when we started renovating the building,” she said. “We had to keep the structure so we couldn’t add things like sliding glass doors or TVs because having those things not be historically accurate according to the guidelines.”

The Heller Guest House does have updated electrical and plumbing lines, amenities it had been lacking before the renovation.

Cunningham also said that she encourages clubs and students to use the Heller Center Guest House as a place where they can get away from all the hustle and bustle of the campus.

“This area is very quiet and peaceful so it would serve as a great setting for students to do club meetings or activities at. It’s a lot different than anywhere else on campus, so it would be a great place for anyone to go to experience something different.”

Cunningham said that they already have a guest planning on staying in the house this fall and believes the renovation will lead to some big things for the campus. “Having these musicians, artists and scholars will be great. They will offer a lot new experiences to our campus and give students opportunities to see some different events during the school year.”

More info: uccs.edu/~heller