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University Relations

Feb. 15, 2008 Communique

Heller Center receives historic preservation grant

Heller CenterDENVER – The State Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society, will provide a more than $90,000 grant to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to develop a master plan and historic structure assessment for the Heller Center for the Arts and Humanities.

In a Jan. 31 letter, Mark Wolfe, director, State Historical Fund, announced the award for $91,450 and initiated details of a contract between UCCS and the State Historical Fund.

“I am delighted to receive this support from the State Historical Fund,” Tom Christensen, dean, Letters, Arts and Sciences, said. “Many people from both the academic and facilities parts of the campus along with members of the community, coordinated by Perrin Cunningham, director of the Heller Center, contributed to our efforts in securing this support.”

As part of the agreement, the State Historical Fund will assign a historic preservation specialist to work with the university to assess the historical value of the building and to create a master plan for the entire Heller site. Specialists in areas such as landscape architecture will be consulted to ensure appropriate expertise is brought to the project, Christensen said. The Heller buildings pose unique challenges. The structures on the site – a gallery, a guest house, and a main house – were built by the Hellers themselves, using a wide variety of local materials, over more than 60 years. Some of the structures are in poor condition, although classes meet regularly in a building previously used as a gallery.

The varied construction techniques, materials used, and numerous additions are part of the property’s character. The goal is for the Heller Center to meet our academic and community needs in a setting that preserves this important part of Colorado Springs history of which we are stewards, Christensen said.
The Colorado Springs-based Bee Vradenberg Foundation also contributed $3,000 to assist the university in meeting a matching requirement in the State Historical Fund grant.

Dorothy Heller died in 1999, leaving the 500 acre property west of campus as well as five buildings and her late husband Larry’s artwork to the university. The Hellers requested the site be used to celebrate the humanities, accommodating retreats, workshops, exhibits and visiting artists.

In 2005, the project received a substantial boost when Betty Taylor, a retired teacher, left her family’s Montana ranch to the CU Foundation with instructions that the property be sold and 80 percent of the proceeds directed to the Heller. The more than $600,000 generated from the sale, in addition to other gifts, will fund the renovations.

To see a photo gallery of the Heller Center, please visit the Heller Center website.

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