Former columnist honored for her work in historic preservation
“Whether he had intended to ‘claim-jump’ or whether early-day records were simply haphazard, William Keith stirred up a pot of trouble when he filed his claim for what became Grand Junction’s Keith Addition.”
And with those enticing words, Kathy Jordan spun another story about Grand Valley history — this time about a disputed plot of downtown Grand Junction land that had all the makings of a dime novel potboiler.
For her, history was a vivid and present thing as she meandered down the familiar streets of her beloved hometown, noting buildings that had stood since her great-grandparents were children, appreciating the textures that the past lends to the present.
Historic preservation was her passion, and Jordan, who died May 1, 2012, will be recognized for it at the Colorado Preservation Saving Places Conference set for Thursday through Saturday in Denver.
“Historic Preservation is about more than saving old buildings,” wrote Patrick Eidman, former Colorado Endangered Places Coordinator and a good friend of Jordan’s. “Study after study has shown that preservation of our historic building stock not only makes economic and environmental sense, but contributes significantly to that intangible ‘sense of place’ which new communities simply can’t replicate.”
And Jordan’s sense of place was often on the front porch of the historic Seventh Street home she shared with her husband, Teddy. On any given evening in summertime, she and Teddy could be found casual on the porch in front of their yellow and green home, their beloved dogs frolicking in the grass, their even more beloved grandkids, Spencer and Erika, probably somewhere nearby.
It was in those moments, as the light shone golden on the historic neighborhood she loved, the past and present might have seemed to meld. Teddy speculated that her passion for historic preservation might have stemmed from buying that Seventh Street home from her parents, “but it was probably even before that,” he said. “This was her home.”
A Grand Junction native, she graduated Grand Junction High School in 1965 and worked at The Daily Sentinel for 32 years. Her roots were deep in the Grand Valley, but she understood that they were inextricably connected with other deep roots, with a history spanning centuries and millennia.
After retiring from the Sentinel, she wrote a column about various historical highlights of the region — nothing was too small or ever deemed too uninteresting for her curious eye.
But her greatest energies were devoted to the North Seventh Street Historic District, which was her brainchild. A one-mile entry into downtown Grand Junction, she conceived it as a “grand residential boulevard” and led the crusade to ask city of Grand Junction officials to adopt guidelines and standards for Seventh Street as part of its land development code. She also led the effort to have the district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2005, Jordan wrote “Heart of the City: North Seventh Street Historic Residential District,” a book devoted to the history of the area and its significance.
“Kathy believed that historic buildings reflect the character of a community and its people,” wrote her friend and fellow historical preservation enthusiast, Bennett Boeschenstein. “She worked hard to protect the Handy Chapel, St. Joseph’s Church, the Old Spanish Trail, the Driggs Mansion, the Dugway trail to Glade Park and other notable landmarks in the county and western Colorado. She was respected statewide for her work in historic preservation.”
Because, say those who knew her, this was her home. Its history was her own. She felt it all around her as she walked through her days in the area she loved.