Montrose, CO — City Councilors have voted unanimously to place the historic Montrose Electric Light & Power Company building, located at 7 South Townsend Avenue. on the city’s Register of Historic Places.
In his presentation to City Council on Tuesday, City Planner William Reis said the structure meets the historic register criteria. The building is over fifty years old and is significant for its association with the history of power generation in Montrose, having been erected in 1899 to house the Montrose Electric Light and Power Company and later converted to commercial use as a feed warehouse known as the Valley Feed and Seed Company.
On January 24, 2023, the City of Montrose Historic Preservation Commission considered an application for historic property designation of the building and voted unanimously to recommend approval as a historic property.
The original brick structure was covered with its current stucco finish at some point in its history.
"The building, although greatly altered, retains its original roof design and segmental arched opening on the north end of the west wall," Reis said.
Citing historical newspaper accounts, Reis said the Montrose Electric Light and Power Company first began construction on their power house in May of 1899. The plans were for a one-story, 40’x60’ building, diagonal from their office building, on what was then Front and Third Streets. The original plans had space for two boilers, according to the May 6, 1899, edition of The Montrose Enterprise.
August 3, 1899, edition of the Montrose Press reported, “the new building was officially opened on July 27th, 1899 at 7 p.m., when they had a formal button pressing ceremony, attended by Superintendent W.W. Torrence.”
In 1899 The Montrose Enterprise further reported, “the new building included a 38 by 40-foot dynamo room, an 18 foot by 40-foot boiler room, and two smaller rooms used as parlors and sleeping quarters for Superintendent Torrence.
“There were approximately 850 lights installed in Montrose at the time, with capacity for more,” the Montrose Enterprise reported.
In 1902 The Montrose Enterprise further reported, “the company added a new dynamo and engine in September of 1902, able to generate current for 1,200 lights.”
By 1904 the Montrose Electric Light and Power Company had already outgrown the building and, with the need to increase the capacity of the power plant, purchased property to build a new facility, and thus placed the building for sale.
In 1905 the building was sold to F.H. Posey, who converted the property into store rooms and a feed warehouse. He owned the property until 1945 when it was acquired by John A. Hughes. The property was sold in 1986 to John and Margaret Crouch, to Montrose Music in 2012, and to Resolve Home Buyers, LLC in 2022.
“We've been very excited that more and more property owners are recognizing the value of preserving historic Montrose," Reis said. “The Montrose Electric Light & Power Co. was vital to the early development of Montrose, and we're happy that two of their former buildings are now on the register."
The building was the first location of the Montrose Electric Light & Power Company, the second being located on Grand Avenue, which was also added as a historic property in December 2022.
The Montrose Electric Light & Power Company building is now the 13th building to be added to the city’s Register of Historic Places since the program was created in the fall of 2019.
City of Montrose Register of Historic Places:
• City Hall: 433 South First Street, added on September 17, 2019
• Potato Growers Association Building: 39 West Main Street, added on October 1, 2019
• The Missouri Building: 347 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
• The Block Building: 345 East Main Street, added on March 17, 2020
• The former BPOE Lodge Building: 107 South Cascade Avenue, added on November 17, 2020
• Montrose Fire Department No. 1 Station: 24 South Uncompahgre Avenue, added on June 1, 2021
• Historic Montrose County Jail: 271 South First Street, added on July 6, 2021
• Denver and Rio Grande Depot: 21 North Rio Grande Avenue, added July 20, 2021
• S.H. Nye Building: 428 East Main Street, added March 1, 2022
• Knights of Pythias Building: 33 South Cascade Ave, added November 1, 2022
• Montrose Electric Light & Power Co,.: 44 S Grand Ave, added December 6, 2022
• Montrose Radium Ore Sampler: 112 W Main Street, added December 6, 2022
• Montrose Electric Light & Power Co. building, 7 S Townsend Ave, added February 21, 2023.
Find out more information about the city's Historic Preservation Commission.