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Veterans Administration Medical Center (Fort Lyon)

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Fort Lyon
1867; many additions. 4 miles east of Las Animas via U.S. 50 and Colorado 183

Established in 1860 below the confluence of the Purgatoire and Arkansas rivers, this was originally called Fort Wise but was renamed Fort Lyon in 1861 and moved 20 miles upstream to its present site on higher ground. Abandoned in 1889, the fort was resurrected by 1906 for a U.S. Navy tuberculosis sanatarium, and many hip-roofed frame buildings were built on the grounds. Of the older buildings, a dozen examples of stone and frame construction remain. arranged formally along straight roads in a 189-acre historic district.

The small, stone Kit Carson Memorial Chapel (c. 1867) was originally one of several officers' quarters built northeast of the parade grounds. In mid-May of 1868 an extremely ill Kit Carson was brought to these quarters, which then housed the post surgeon. Here Carson died of a ruptured aneurism, ending a long career as trapper, scout, and one-time commander of Fort Garland. The simple, front-gabled building was previously a blacksmith shop, then a meeting hall and museum, until its 1959 conversion into a small chapel.

Within the larger historic district, between A and C streets and from 1st Street to the East Service Road, is a second, 20-acre district of 1930s brick buildings belonging to the Veterans Administration Medical Center complex. These are uniformly Georgian Colonial Revival, with hipped and gable roofs originally of slate and detailing in brick, wood, and terracotta. They surround three sides of an open quadrangle with sanatariums on the north.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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