History Here and Now May 08, 2009

Preservers of cemetery, IOOF history honored

Marie Tipping and Kris and Eric Kjeldgaard, along with their partner, John Handley, recently received awards for their historic preservation efforts from the Grand Junction Historic Preservation Board.     

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Colorado Historical Society celebrate Archaeology Historic Preservation during the month of May as Historic Preservation Month, and these awards were given in connection with this celebration.


Marie Tipping’s form of historic preservation is a far cry from the “bricks and sticks” idea that comes to mind when you think about preserving the past.

Marie has uncovered long-forgotten roads, trails, cemeteries, cemetery books and schools in western Colorado. She uncovers supporting documentation that pieces together how this area was developed and traces those who developed the Grand Valley.

A lifelong resident of Grand Junction, Marie is a descendant of pioneer families. Her grandmother and grandfather Corn owned the West Water, Utah, ranch where her grandmother raised turkeys.

Chipeta, wife of Ute Indian Chief Ouray, had a taste for turkey and would visit Marie’s grandmother once or twice a year at the ranch to satisfy her cravings for the bird.

Marie began her research on cemeteries to learn about her ancestors’ burial sites. During her search, she learned how local cemeteries were formed. She discovered there were “grave sellers” who purchased sections of land that had been dedicated for cemeteries, had them surveyed and plotted into blocks and lots and then sold the lots.

She found the missing puzzle pieces that the Grand Junction Historic Preservation Board needed to solve the question of how George A. Crawford came to be buried on the hill above the Orchard Mesa Cemetery.

Crawford, Grand Junction’s founder who died in 1891, was originally buried in the Masonic Cemetery, although he had requested that he be interred on the hill.

In 1898, Crawford’s representatives bought the hill property and moved the body to its present resting place.

Marie has shared the information she has uncovered with the city historical transactions to the Museum of Western Colorado and individuals who seek historical information.

She has helped numerous researchers in their quests to find information on Mesa County property deeds. 

She is particularly interested in maps and roads in Mesa County. Through her natural curiosity and excellent research skills, she is constantly discovering information, deeds and maps that help local people with their family history.


One of the older buildings still in use in Grand Junction is the International Order of Odd Fellows Hall at 128 N. Fifth St. It was built in 1906 by members of the organization with bricks from a factory operated by J.A.K. Crawford in Crawford’s Addition.

For about 100 years,  IOOF members used the upper two floors for their meetings and storage space.

The ground floor corner at Fifth Street and Rood Avenue has been home to three grocery stores: Bailey’s, John Crosby’s and John Giblin’s.

Among other ground-floor tenants in the mid-1900s were the Watson Flower Shop and Kendall Electric Co. The area is now home to Roper Music.

In December 2007, Kris and Eric Kjeldgaard, along with their partner, John Handley, purchased the building from the Odd Fellows and started an extensive restoration project.

Starting in the main second-story hall, they removed the wall paneling to expose and replace the windows. After the partners completed the renovation, they invited members of the IOOF to see what had been done.

One of the men attending had been a high office holder. As he stood looking out one of the windows, he said, “I wonder why we never exposed the windows.”

Another lodge member standing nearby said, “Because we were a secret society.”

The main hall, with the original dance floor and 1909 Steinway parlor grand piano, is now used for concerts, recitals, dances, wedding receptions and other special occasions, business meetings and the downtown branch of Canyon View Vineyard Church.

The main hall is just the beginning of the restoration. Across from the main hall is a second meeting room, with the original tin ceiling, which will be restored next. This room still contains the lodge’s original pool table.

Thanks to the efforts of the Kris, Eric and John, this wonderful grande dame of Grand Junction’s history is open to the public.

Kathy Jordan is retired from The Daily Sentinel and involved in many preservation efforts, including the Avalon Theatre, the railroad depot and the North Seventh Street Historic Residential District.

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