Digging proves Pabor’s 1883 Seventh Street home still standing
If you are trying to tie early-day Grand Junction residences and businesses to today’s city maps, you need the tenacity of a bulldog and the ability to put facts together like Sherlock Holmes.
When Marie Tipping, my husband Teddy and I started gathering deeds from 1882 through 1883, we had no idea where our “deed digging” was going to take us, or what we might dig up.
The project started because we knew there had to be a better way of finding who owned the first lots sold in the original square-mile town site. We had been going back through the grantor/grantee books each time we wanted to know where something was located or who had owned the property.
We wanted to be able to be more specific about business locations on Colorado Avenue, Main Street and anywhere in the area.
After the deeds were pulled from the Mesa County Clerk and Recorders’ Office, we sorted them by name and block. Then we went block by block, writing the name of the seller and buyer on each lot. To set the lots apart to make it easier to find the seller/buyer, we colored each lot or lots.
After we completed that project, we made copies of the 1882 and 1883 Grand Junction News and clipped any information we found about business. Most ads would give a general location on Colorado Avenue or Main Street. Where we found the best locations were in one-, two- or three-line news items. Seventy-five percent of the time those briefs gave a more exact location, such as “next door to the new post office” or “directly across the street from the News office.”
The Dec.29, 1883, News published a business biography as well as a few sketches, which included the Methodist Episcopal Church South and the Baptist Church. But what caught my eye was one titled “W.E. Pabor Residence, Gunnison Avenue.”
I thought the house looked familiar, so off we went on a house hunt on Gunnison Avenue. No luck.
We came home and I pulled out the book with property owners’ names in it and found W. E. and Emma Pabor who had invested in block 40. I then pulled the blocks, and there colored in green was the information that the Pabors had purchased the whole block.
Then it hit me.
It was Paul and Nicole Sizemore’s home at 706 N. Seventh Street. The top had been popped (a second story added), but the lines were there.
The next day when I saw Paul I showed him the picture, and he immediately saw the similarities.
He took the picture home and started looking around for evidence that it could be the Pabor house.
He reported back that the overall cross-gable shape of the house is still the same.
On close inspection, you can see on the east side where a third window has been added between two other windows, and you can see where the builder used smaller pieces of brick to even out the work between the windows.
On the Gunnison side of the house, a porch has been added. If you can imagine the building without the porch, you can see a door, which would have been the central front entrance facing Gunnison.
The picture shows a wooden bay window on the west, or Seventh Street, side. The bay window remains, but it is now brick. The picture also shows two chimneys, but only one remains. The firmest evidence is the footprint (size of the house), which matches the Pabor house print of 32-by-42 feet.
Meanwhile, Nicole spent many hours reading the local affairs section of the 1884 News, where she found several mentions of the Pabor house, which according to an article in the August 1901 News they called “Pansy Cottage,” being built and the architect’s name, DeWitt. Not satisfied with their own investigation, the Sizemores asked an architect to look over the house. She said the evidence definitely points to their home being the Pabor home built in 1883.
I had never associated the Pabors with Grand Junction but only with the Lower Valley, where W. E. Pabor was one of those who incorporated Fruita. Prior to his move to the Western Slope in 1883, Pabor had helped found Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. The family moved from Grand Junction to Fruita in 1884.
What a sense of accomplishment it was for all of us to discover that the Pabors’ Gunnison Avenue home, lost in the paper shuffle all these years, was still standing in Grand Junction.
Marie, Teddy and I were pleased that all of our months of work have developed into the useful tool we had envisioned to help seekers find the history of their properties. Anyone interested in how the original square mile was developed will be able to learn about those early days. Soon our research will be available to the public at the Loyd Files Research Library Museum of Western Colorado.
Some might think “deed digging” sounds boring, but deeds are a treasure trove of information, some of it long forgotten.
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Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel. She is involved in many local preservation efforts and is on the board of directors for Colorado Preservation Inc.