The archive vault at the Robert Hoag Rawlings Public Library is a portal to the past. It pays homage to the heritage and culture of this small Southern Colorado community.
“I’ve always called it ‘the gold mine on the hill’ because of all the riches here and that fact that you have to mine for it,” said Charlene Garcia Simms, genealogy and special collections librarian, standing in the shadow of plenty of collected Pueblo artifacts.
“It’s the mother lode. You can just keep finding and finding,” she jokes.
Now the giant time capsule, completed with the construction of Rawlings Library in 2004, is set to get a historic makeover thanks to a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The $500,000 grant is a 3-1 match, meaning the district would ultimately have $2 million to improve preservation and access to the Special Collections Department on the third floor of the public library, said Nick Potter, director of community relations with the library district.
“We are really excited about this because it allows us to be able to build a facility that these archives deserve,” Potter said.
“We have thing here that are irreplaceable throughout our community and throughout our region.”
The vault houses local and regional artifacts, including: Kit Carson’s will; the 1868 first edition of The Pueblo Chieftain; more than 10,000 historic photographs of Pueblo and Southern Colorado region; rock art; and an archaeology collection spanning centuries.
It also has the pen that President John F. Kennedy used to sign a bill authorizing the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project when he visited Pueblo in 1962.