The Johnstown Historical Society is a proud recipient of a recent History Colorado – State Historical Fund (SHF) grant for improvements to the Parish House and Museum grounds.

The $176,194 project, awarded in early December, includes a 25 percent match by the town of Johnstown.

The grant will cover the cost of removing the century-old trees along the west side of the Parish House property and the reconstruction of the retaining wall beneath them. The wall has been failing slowly over the years because of the trees, creating a looming safety hazard. It was built at the same time the house was built in 1914. Town founder Harvey Parish and his wife Mary likely planted the trees about that same time.

Photo provided by Billie DeLancey Huge Ash trees adjacent to the concrete retaining wall at the Historic Parish House Museum have pushed the wall outward over time, rendering it and the trees unstable and thus posing a threat of the trees falling onto the roof and side of the Parish House. The Johnstown Historical Society recently received a state grant to remove the trees and reconstruct the retaining wall.

The work is part of a larger project initiated in 2019, also funded by the SHF and the town, that produced construction documents for the current work as well as the refurbishment of the south and east retaining walls and iron fencing, replacement of the north retaining wall, and the addition of a vegetable cellar door façade on the north wall to mark the location of the one the Parish’s used when they lived there.

The current phase of work won’t begin until sometime after the Charlotte Street improvements are completed at the Parish House since access by equipment to the side yard is unavailable until then. The grant period is two years, and the JHS will continue to apply for future grants for the remaining phases of the project.

The “Harvey J. Parish House” property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and is subject to the Secretary of the Interior’s standards.
The project team is comprised of qualified historic property architects, engineers, and contractors and will be managed by Barbara Darden of Scheuber+Darden Architects, who was instrumental in assisting with the grant application.

JHS has received five previous SHF grant awards since 2005 for various improvements to the Parish House property. The town has paid for most of the required 25 percent matches. The JHS and the town have also invested in additional property improvements over the years, most recently the rocked easements, a new boiler, refurbished porch screens, and main floor storm windows.

The SHF’s mission to foster heritage preservation projects such as this one contributes to Johnstown’s historic fabric and cultural heritage. Their continued support in protecting significant sites across Colorado also supports economic vitality and sustainable growth for all to benefit from and enjoy.

The fund was created in 1990 under the Limited Gaming Act and is supported solely by gaming tax revenue from the towns of Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City. After 30 years of its existence, in 2020, the SHF had awarded nearly $316 million for 4,743 projects across all 64 Colorado counties.

Their support of the Parish House, along with the town’s matches, have greatly impacted the success of Johnstown’s only museum. Had it not been for these grant awards and the town’s assistance, the Historic Parish House and Museum and ADA-compliant visitor’s center created from Harvey’s garage that exist today would not have been possible.

As the town continues to grow, consideration of its past is an especially critical component in the growth process in order to keep Johnstown’s unique and vibrant history from fading away.

Come and see for yourself the improvements and progress made over the past few years. The Parish House is open Wednesdays and the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to noon, or by appointment. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.

To find out more how you can be involved in the Johnstown Historical Society email or call 970-587-0278.

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