Homelake Foundation launches fund drive for future museum

ALAMOSA – The Homelake Historic Preservation and Restoration Foundation has launched a campaign to raise funds to tackle Phase 4 to renovate the old administration building into the center’s museum.

Jane Rhett, a member of the HHPRF board and the archivist at the Veterans History Center Museum at Homelake near Monte Vista, told the Alamosa Rotary Club recently that the foundation has established a donation vehicle with MyEvent.com but contributions can be made to HHPRF, P.O. Box 97, Homelake, CO 81135, or by visiting the Veterans History Center Museum, 3749 Sherman Ave., Monte Vista.

Since its inception in 2005, HHPREF has leveraged hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant monies to restore the former administration building at Homelake into a museum for the center’s burgeoning collection.

When Rhett and museum director Sue Getz, who also is the foundation’s president, began their archival work in 2003 in a small room in the present administration building at the veterans’ center, there were 159 collections of uniforms and medals. Today that has grown to 488 collections and a 1,500-volume library and the donations keep coming. The museum also is Colorado’s official repository for all unclaimed military memorabilia.

Rhett said the restoration of the administration building from History Colorado grants leveraged by foundation dollars has had three phases: the first grant paid to evaluate the entire campus; the second grant evaluated and restored the crumbling foundation at the old administration building; the third grant redid the building’s windows; and the fourth phase will see a $183,000 History Colorado grant if HHPRF can raise matching funds of about $60,000. The grant would evaluate the electrical and plumbing and install a foundation for an elevator from the first to the second floors of the building to make the second floor handicapped accessible and allow the museum to move from a small building nearby into the flagship administration building which has been closed for about two decades because of structural problems.

Rhett outlined the history of the center which first opened its doors in 1891 in response to a need for a home for Civil War veterans from Colorado and has seen about 7,000 residents since then, many buried in its unique cemetery constructed in concentric circles. (Rhett has archived about 2,300 of those veterans into a data base.)

Homelake is the oldest veterans’ center in Colorado. Besides a 60-bed nursing home, it has a domiciliary—uncommon these days--that is home to up to 50 veterans and spouses, allowing them to live independently in small cottages.

HHPRF board members serve without pay on the non-profit 501 (c) (3) board. They pay annual membership dues. The foundation’s annual meeting is held in March and several seats are open.

Caption: Rhett addresses Alamosa Rotary Club regarding the Homelake Historic Preservation and Restoration Foundation’s fund drive for Phase 4 of the museum. Courtesy photo