KRZA History

ALAMOSA — This month is historic preservation month, a time when we reflect on the importance of maintaining structures that symbolize the history and culture of Alamosa and more broadly the San Luis Valley. One of the structures on the Alamosa Historic Registry is the KRZA building located on State Ave. at 9th St. State Avenue is the main thoroughfare of a modest Hispanic neighborhood that developed south of the railroad tracks soon after the city was founded in 1878.

The KRZA building, which was constructed in 1890, was initially a residence owned by Lizzie Hurst who lived there for many years and passed the property on to her daughter. In 1943 ownership was passed to the First Church of the Nazarene, and later to the Hansen family who lived there until 1971. In 1972 the building changed ownership again. Ownership was transferred to the Centro de La Raza por Educacion y Opportunidad, which operated the Colorado Migrant Council, an organization that was active in promoting the civil rights and welfare of migrant workers. They remained in the building and as an active organization until the mid-1980’s.

In 1984 Radio KRZA moved into the building and began broadcasting the following year, opening a new chapter in the building’s history. In the course of 130 years the building’s use has changed from dwelling to church to dwelling to office building to radio station. It is not surprising that the building had that fate. Its location on the corner of 9thand State is fairly prominent in the neighborhood. It has the tall side walls and steeply pitched roof that recall the iconography of a church. Records of the County Assessor’s Office indicate that the building was renovated in 1972, which coincides with the Migrant Council’s acquisition of the building.

The Assessor’s records also document the addition of the greenhouse on the south side of the building, which occurred in 1978. The building itself is a vernacular residence with Queen Anne features. The exterior retains substantial amounts of original fabric including the distinctive roof line, gargle end trim, roof detailing and exterior windows. It is significant because of its association with the early history of the south side of Alamosa, for its association with the Church of the Nazarene, and its association with the Colorado Migrant Council.

The history of the building is, in a way, the history of a neighborhood. Many snug modest brick bungalows employ the same design features that can be found there. While the building retains many unique features it is in need of serious repairs, and plans are being made to try and restore the structure so as to preserve it for future generations. This building is a compelling example of what historic preservation month is all about.