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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Redlands Community Center: a vibrant center in history and the community

Dec 06, 2018 03:26AM ● By Terri Benson

Women of the Redlands Garden Club trim the garden in front of the center.

Driving down Broadway through the Redlands, you’re likely to pass a nearly century-old piece of local history without even realizing it.

The Redlands Community Center is the large Spanish-style building that overlooks Grand Junction, sitting on top of a hill off Broadway, just west of the bridge over the Colorado River. Surrounded by manicured lawns with its back to the cottonwoods, the building was once the centerpiece of one of the first golf courses in Grand Junction.

Club to community

In 1920, a collection of local businessmen erected the building on 160 acres, and the nine-hole golf course and clubhouse opened in August 1921. This golf course didn’t resemble the velvety green courses of today, though. It was made of oiled sand greens because the clay soil made it too hard to insert a wooden tee.

The Great Depression hit the golf club hard, and the property was sold to the Redlands Women’s Club for $5,000 in 1935. The service club, which was comprised of over 60 women from nearly every family that lived on the Redlands, held carnivals and dinners, made quilts and hosted other fundraisers to help pay off their debt.

This group of women and their successors (many were daughters and nieces) ran the club until 1983 before turning it into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that would continue to serve the community as well as preserve the aging building.

The Redlands women

I worked at the community center in the early 1970s when I was about 13. My great-aunt was one of the Redlands Women’s Club’s original members. I remember serving dinners to the Saturday Night Dinner Dance group alongside the club’s women, who were all much older than me. Each of them has specific jobs as they moved in a long-established choreography around the kitchen, which back then was one big room with a large table in the center and gigantic appliances along the perimeter.

The reigning queen of the kitchen was Clara Ziegler, a diminutive but formidable woman who ran the place like a drill sergeant. She was the last surviving member of the women’s club and died in November 2016 at the age of 93.

Preserving history

The community center was added to the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 1994.

Today, the Redlands Community Center Foundation’s (RCCF) mission is to increase community use of the facility and raise funds to restore, maintain, preserve and rehabilitate the building.

The majestic building currently sits on about five acres, as the golf course was sold off long ago. Large arched windows grace the northeast face of the building, and stained glass has been placed in some of the front door lights. A red tile hipped roof stands out against the white stucco, and hand-laid stone decorates the foundation and massive fireplaces.

The upper level contains the main hall and kitchen, and the lower level has a dressing room, meeting space and storage.

The building is still quite capable of serving the community even after all these decades, and is currently being utilized for business and club meetings, weddings and receptions, private parties, memorials and other social events.

“Because we don’t have a food license or alcohol license, parties can happen however our renting audience would like,” Event Coordinator Elly Conklin said. “They can have potluck suppers or caterers. You can make it your event.”

The kitchen has catering facilities and the main hall has expansive wooden floors perfect for dancing the night away. The center can furnish tables and chairs for meetings and meals, and has private dressing rooms for wedding parties to prepare. The landscaped grounds are beautiful and suited for weddings, reunions, photo shoots and more.

Centennial celebration

In anticipation of the building’s 100th anniversary, the foundation is doubling its efforts to repair and restore the building, raising funds through upcoming events, including the New Year’s Dinner and Dance on December 31.

Proceeds from this elegant evening will go toward refinishing the building’s wood floors. Swing City Express will play music throughout the night and there will be a cash bar, silent auction and complimentary champagne toast.

The Redlands Community Center is located at 2463 Broadway in Grand Junction. To purchase tickets for the New Year’s Eve event or for more information about how you can help preserve this piece of history, call 242-3454 or 242-8336.