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Victor

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After the Cripple Creek rush began, Frank M. and Harry E. Woods of Denver platted Victor (1893, 9,693 feet) and named it for an early homesteader, Victor C. Adams. While mine owners and businessmen gravitated to Cripple Creek, Victor's working-class residents built clapboard and brick houses in the shadows of headframes and huge mine dumps. Underground blasting shook the town, and heavy ore wagons rumbled continually through the streets.

In August 1899 a fire ravaged Victor, destroying fourteen blocks and leaving 3,000 homeless. The town quickly rebuilt, replacing ram-shackle wood structures with dignified Neoclassical brick commercial buildings and modest masonry houses. By 1900 its 4,986 residents made it the eighth most populous city in Colorado. As many as fifty-eight trains a day moved through the city, bringing in mining machinery and supplies and taking out gold ore to the huge smelter complex in Colorado City. Like Cripple Creek, the town has been in decline since World War I. Several historic saloons, such as Zeke's Place (c. 1910), South 3rd Street, have survived, but churches have had a harder time. The Church of Christ Scientist (c. 1900), fronted by a Greek classical facade with Doric columns supporting a pediment, has been boarded up with bark slabs.

Victor's heyday was described by schoolteacher Mabel Barbee Lee in Cripple Creek Days (1958): “As I looked out upon it from my classroom window, high on a hill, the beauty of the land overwhelmed me. Famous gold-rich mountains rimmed the north with their tall smokestacks. A maze of roads wound in and out among the cribbings piled with waste rock. Small cabins were clustered around them in the open spaces, merging the camp with its mines. Absurd, cracker-box houses with tiny windows and criss-crossing stovepipes clung to the steep slopes of the lopsided streets.”

The Victor Downtown Historic District (NRD) covers six blocks, bounded roughly by 5th and 2nd streets between Diamond and Portland avenues. It contains sixty-six business buildings with classical, Romanesque Revival, and Renaissance Revival aspirations, typically with recessed center doorways and large display windows. The residential area is composed of modest brick and frame houses, including three bed and breakfast inns, the Portland Inn (1896), 412 West Portland Avenue; the Kessey House (1901), 216 South 3rd Street; and the Midnight Inn (1899), 4th Street and Spicer Avenue.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

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