RMFI’s current office is located in an historic school building on Colorado Springs' eclectic Westside. The Second Midland School, or the Old Midland School as it’s lovingly referred to, is steeped in rich history that is too good to not share in a blog post.
The First Midland Elementary School was built in 1889 to meet the growing needs of a city that was in the midst of an economic boom. In 1891, gold was discovered in Cripple Creek. People with newfound fortunes flocked to Colorado Springs, building large homes on what are now Wood Avenue, Cascade Avenue, and other streets just east of downtown. Colorado Springs was officially incorporated on June 19, 1886. The year before, the Colorado Midland Railroad began service, and in 1889, the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroads all began service in the city. By 1898, Colorado Springs had annexed Old Colorado City, Ivywild, Roswell, and other towns. Between 1880 and 1890, the city’s population had grown by an estimated 164%.
Land for the First Midland School was donated by Anthony Bott, a key player in the organization and development of Colorado City and El Paso County. Bott also donated the 43 acres of land across the street from the school, which is now Fairview Cemetery. Within a few years of opening, the first school had outgrown its walls and in 1902, the Second Midland School was opened on the same property (the first school was eventually demolished). The new school was three stories and built of red sandstone and brick. The principal of the new school was Augusta Kneipp who reportedly ran a tight ship and demanded excellence from teachers and students. Under Kneipp’s leadership, the school would go on to win many prestigious awards.
In 1956, the Midland Annex of the school was built on what was supposed to become Pine Street, situated at the northwest corner of Broadway. Pine Street was never built, but the Annex eventually housed the intermediate grades and administrative offices. The primary grades continued to meet in the Second Midland School on South 25th Street until 1970 when the entire school moved to the Annex on Broadway after it was expanded.
The school was put up for sale and purchased by Mel and Louise Eskanos who, along with their 5 children, used the school as their primary residence. All of the school’s original features including classrooms, blackboards, and stage were kept intact. A few years later, the Eskanos’ sold the property to the Traditional Catholics who transformed it back into a grade school with classes being taught by Catholic nuns. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 12, 1980. In the early 1980’s, the school was again sold to Our Lady of the Rockies who operated a private Christian school in the building until March 2006.
In 2007, the school was purchased by Luanne Ducett who transformed the building into office space for a variety of local businesses, artists, and, of course, RMFI, which moved into the old school in 2012. Today, the Old Midland School evokes the charm of a bygone era with tall tin ceilings, original woodwork, hardwood floors, and classrooms still fully intact. We feel lucky to call this old school home (creaky floors and all!), and invite you to stop by and check it out if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood.
The outside facade of the Old (Second) Midland School.
Teacher's names still mark coat hangers in what is now the RMFI conference room.
The old historic tin ceilings take you back in time.