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One of our favorite free and local cultural resources on the web has got to be the Pikes Peak Library District’s Photograph Archive. With over 8,000 images online that span from the early 1800s to the present, the archive is a gawker’s delight whether you’re a history buff or not.
One of the PPLD’s richest collections is the Myron Wood archive. Best known for his portraits of Georgia O’Keefe, Wood is an oft overlooked master photographer of the 20th Century who was as deft with the urban imagery of New York City as he was with the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde. Wood lived in Colorado Springs and was one of its most artful documentarians. Lucky for us, the PPLD has over 1,700 of his images.
This slideshow of Wood’s photographs is from 1973 when he documented the demolition of the Burns Opera House (aka The Chief Theater). The theater was once considered to be one of the great opera houses of the West and later became a movie house. As you will see in the photographs, the building was magnificent. It was destroyed during the wave of government funded “urban renewal” that began in the 60s and continued on into the 70s. Tragically, it was destroyed to make room for the parking lot that still sits across the street from the new Antler’s Hotel (another demolition travesty story for another time) at the corner of Pikes Peak and Cascade.
Wood’s photographs of the demolition are a lovely testament to bad ideas!
If you know more about the history of the Burns/Chief we’d love to hear from you in the comments or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.