UCCS, Cragmoor neighborhood have grown together

May 11, 2015
50 Year Issue

Evan Musick
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Across Austin Bluffs Parkway lies UCCS’ quiet colleague, the Cragmoor neighborhood.

Cragmoor existed as a small county community prior to 1969. But in the court case Adams v. City of Colorado Springs, some members desired to be annexed by the city. On Dec. 23, 1969, city council granted their wish.

The Cragmoor area is filled with residents who have lived there 20-plus years, and in some cases, members have lived in the community prior to its annexation.

Qwen Martin has lived in her brick façade house since March1963 and recalls the history of UCCS and the surrounding area. The original function of Main Hall was a tuberculosis sanatorium. The building’s purpose has changed since the university was founded in 1965 and is now used as an administrative building.

Prior to the Great Depression, wealthy patients moved to Colorado Springs to receive treatment from the center.

“They were rich people, and they came out here for treatment. And some of them stayed,” said Martin.

At the time Martin and her late husband moved into their home, UCCS was no longer a sanatorium, but a nursing home.

The Cragmoor area was also different.

“It was just gravel out there, no paved streets or anything,” she said.

In order to receive paved streets, curbs and sidewalks the county said homeowners had to pay for half of the project.

Most of the neighborhood agreed to pay for the upgrade, except for one.

“The Lutheran Minister lived there alone, and he didn’t want to pay for any of those so half the street was paved, half of it was gravel,” Martin said.

Once Colorado Springs’ City Council annexed the Cragmoor community, things changed.

“It changed the rules and regulations so much that everything from the sidewalk, including the street, belonged to the city, and we had no control over it, yet we had paid for the up keep and stuff,” Martin said. “But you had to operate under their rules.”

“Finally, the city came through and paved the whole street. And that took care of a lot of problems.”

Other neighbors have their own recollections of the Cragmoor area and the university.

Edy Kline has been acquainted with the neighborhood since the first years of UCCS, and attended the university when her parents lived in the Cragmoor area. UCCS looked quite different when her folks purchased the house in 1968.

“It didn’t have any signs up there or anything. It had the original building, and on the hill to the right, if you’re looking at the campus, it had a whole bunch of old houses and a few buildings. And then the ROTC was still up on the hill,” Kline said.

“All those buildings were condemned, those old houses and stuff, and they still held classes in them,” she said.

Her parents objected to the idea of the property becoming a university campus.

“My dad didn’t like the building, and remember how many years ago this was, didn’t like the building and turning it into the school because there was some ‘if’ over whether they were really going to use it as a campus or not,” Kline said.

“He didn’t like it at all, the first thing out of his mouth was ‘where in the hell do they think they’re going to park?’” Kline said.

She also recalled the original food service the university provided.

“When there was only that main building, and they used the old dining hall as the cafeteria, they put vending machines along one side. And I lived on the cheese dogs that were in there when I was up there, because they were fast and really cheap. But, you know how it is when you’re running from class to class.”

Kline believed that there was a general sense of disappointment among faculty and students at that time.

“The instructors didn’t seem to want to be there, we didn’t want to be there,” she said.

But the water tower behind campus on the bluff was a hot spot.

“All the kids through high school would go up there and make out. They thought that nobody knew they were up there,” she said.

“Occasionally, when I was up there with my friends, the cop would come through, but as long as everyone was sitting up in the car, the cops didn’t bother you. But they would roust out the ones that made the windows all fogged up.”

Kline recalled what teenagers did around the area for fun.

“There was just nothing in the springs. Every kid I knew ran to Denver for any excuse. Just, concerts or you know, dinner out,” Kline said.

Giuseppe’s Pizza was the only place to eat out that appealed to her and her friends. There was also a small, plain building that was a club near Fort Carson that opened its doors every once in a while to students for a night of sober entertainment, Kline said.

Skiing and rock climbing were still the key outdoor activities.

“Everybody went skiing in the winter, and climb rocks in Cheyenne Canyon in the summer and spring to stay in shape for skiing, and that was it. There really wasn’t a lot to do,” she said.

After her years at the university, Kline moved out in 1971 and returned to her parents’ house in 1999. Now, she tends to her dog and three pet rabbits.

Martin commented on her long life and how the neighborhood has grown.

“There’s something very important to learn, too. Because, if you live to be my age, to the golden years as I call them, it’s not a piece of cake, and it’s very difficult, because it changes your life completely,” Kline said.

“You may get old, but if you try to keep a young heart, that’s all that matters.”