The El Paso County Courthouse was built by August J. Smith. When it opened in 1903, everyone was able to see the “stately corridors” with “elegant decorated ceilings, terrazzo floors and rare scagliola columns” as well as the upper level Division One Courtroom (CSPM.org). This courtroom was known as one of the most beautiful courtrooms in the U.S. and was restored back to its original splendor, in 1994 for $350k.
The El Paso County Courthouse was a monumental example of Colorado Springs’ wealth, as it was built and furnished for $420,000, and the building was debt-free when it opened in 1903. “For a county with a population of only 40,000 in 1900, the new facility represented an aesthetic and fiscal triumph.” (CSPM.org)
In 1909 the El Paso County Pioneers Association (founded in 1896) used the El Paso County Courthouse to display historical artifacts and “preserve the history of the Pikes Peak Region.” (CSPM.org) When it grew too large for the courthouse, the museum moved to the Knights of Columbus Gymnasium until it moved back to the courthouse in 1979.
In the 1960’s the courthouse was deemed unusable, but wound up being spared of demolition and deeded over to the City of Colorado Springs in 1973 for historical restoration. Amidst restoration, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum opened in the El Paso County courthouse building in 1979.
The fully renovated The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is home to over 40,000 objects related to the history of the Pikes Peak Region. The museum has an “active changing exhibition schedule” to include artifacts from the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Plains and Pueblo Indian cultures, western art, popular memorabilia, as well as a large collection of Van Briggle Art Pottery.
The The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum offers the most comprehensive collection of Colorado Springs history: Over 35,000 photographs, bound newspapers, city records, directories dating from the 1800’s …
The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums and has volunteer tour guides who provide guided tours to over 8,000 people a year. Admission to the The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is FREE and their hours are Tuesday – Saturday, from 10am – 5pm. Make sure you check out the book store and gift shop!
Whether you are new to the area, or have lived here your whole life (all 6 of you …) the Pioneer Museum’s actively changing exhibits will spark your curiosity and awe any visitor.
Donations are always accepted and appreciated.