Historical Fort Wootton in Trinidad, Colorado, “a WPA era fortress commemorating the United States of America’s Veteran,” takes up half a city block at the corner of 1st Street and Chestnut Street. Described as the “most complete war memorial in the nation,” six veterans’ groups teamed up with the WPA and county labor to build this elaborately furnished building in 1936-37. The imposing structure of native stone once represented The United Spanish War Veterans, The American Legion, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Disabled American Veterans, Sons of Union Veterans and Sons of Confederate Veterans. However, since the early 1950s, it was repurposed for the Las Animas County Department of Human Services, who recently moved to a remodeled space in the County Courthouse.
In August of 2012, The Las Animas County Veterans Council (LAVC), under the leadership of Luton Dawes and David Walker, surveyed the building to assess modifications required before a change in occupancy could be considered. By October of 2015, Dawes and Walker drafted a “Business Strategy for Fort Wooton”. “The goal is to preserve and maintain the historical building so that a comprehensive center for veteran’s services, as well as affordable space for non-profit and service organizations, will be centrally located in Trinidad,” comments Dawes.
In early spring, 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Las Animas County Board of Commissioners and the Las Animas County Veterans Council, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, was agreed to, detailing the Veteran’s intention to assume Fort Wootton Memorial Square when the County’s DHS moved over to the courthouse. The Fort Wootton management team, made up of local veterans and other members of the community, are determined to create a community-gathering place, but more specifically to re-purpose this facility to its original purpose – a location for veterans to obtain a variety of services, host events and offer other non-profits affordable operating spaces.
Fort Wootton, built in 1937 as a hub for veteran’s services and recently deeded back to the LAC Veterans Council, will now be preserved as a “Venue for Veterans” and other service organizations. Its large auditorium, administrative offices, and individual meeting huts, once considered the most impressive veterans memorial in the country, will soon be restored. Tuesday, May 1, 2018, the Las Animas County Commission dedicated a “48 Star USA Flag” donated by Marjorie Lewis Brown Campbell, Daughters of the American Revolution-Santa Fe Trail Chapter, which is now located in the Court House foyer. Then on Tuesday, May 17, the LAVC defended the transfer of the building at the Las Animas County Commission’s meeting. The resolution returning the facility to Las Animas County Veteran Council to serve its original purpose – services for all military veterans, was approved by County Commissioners’ Mack Louden, Luis Lopez II and Dean Moulter. The Las Animas County Veterans Council will assume ownership of Fort Wootton on June 30, 2018.
SUPPORT OUR VETERANS
The Las Animas Veterans Council (LACVC) needs YOUR ideas and creativity to operate and maintain Fort Wootton for Las Animas County veterans who number over 1,700, These veterans served from World War II to Viet Nam, and from the Korean War to the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. The building will serve also as a resource area for police, firemen and community service personnel, both active and retired. With the ownership deed in hand, LA County Veterans Council can now seek funding and matching grants for operational costs, while they create multiple office spaces and offer the building a much needed spruce up. Share your support for Fort Wootton’s historical legacy preservation. Several fund raising events are being planned.
FOR MORE INFORMATION please contact Luton Dawes at (cell: 719-845-7370), Colorado Floors & Blinds, 249 N. Commercial Street or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
From Page 59 of our Summer 2018 Issue