The Black Forest Community Center was built by volunteers of the
Community and was completed in 1929. It remains in continuous use
by the Black Forest Community for dances, Boy Scouts and other
Community activities and meetings.
by Anna Mae Hawkins
"Keeper of the Forest" 1986
The Black Forest Community Club came into being in the mid-1920s. About 30 families lived in about a 420 square mile area bounded in the west by foothills, on the north by Douglas County line, on the east by Elbert County, across the south by a line from Falcon to Rattlesnake Hill, and then west to the foothills.
The people needed a place to hold meetings and social get-togethers. The little log school house on Shoup Road, just west of Black Forest Road, was not quite large enough. At that time, Black Forest Road was known as Templeton Gap Road because it was the road into Colorado Springs going through Templeton Gap northeast of Colorado Springs.
In 1924 the people decided to build a hall. Gertrude Burgess donated the land for the building, and the people of the area donated trees from their properties. Everyone pitched in to put up the building which still stands near the corner of Black Forest and Shoup Roads. The men cut the trees with axes and cross-out saws and hauled them to the building site. The women and children helped by peeling the bark from the logs. It was a big project for so few families.
By 1927 the walls were up, the roof was on, and the floor was done. A dance was held to celebrate, even though the doors and windows had yet to be installed.
The Community Club was incorporated as a membership club for meetings, social events, and to promote the betterment and good of the forest. The club had dues and members had to be voted in. Members were voted in until the late 1930s or early 1940s when a couple made application for membership and the wife was accepted but the husband was rejected. This caused problems so the requirement of voting in members in was eliminated. In the 1950s the dues per family were raised from 25 cents to 50 cents per year.
After the hall was finished, the school plays and Christmas programs were held in it. The hall had a stage across the west end and two rooms on the east end. Entry to the hall was through double doors on the east and through a space between the two rooms. The room on the north was the kitchen and the one on the south was used as a ticket booth, hat and coat check room and storage. The hall was heated by a coal furnace that had to be stoked by hand every 4 to 6 hours. It had be lit and kept burning for 24 to 48 hours before the hall was to be used depending on how cold the weather was. This meant that someone had to go over a couple of times during the night to shovel coal into the furnace and to build up the fire. The person then had to wait to reset the damper so the hall would be warm.
In the early 1950s an addition was built on the north side of the hall. It was about one-half the length of the building, and was made into a kitchen, cloak room, and restrooms. Water was piped into the building from the new well. The old kitchen and cloak rooms were removed, which increased the floor space of the hall. In the 1960s a second addition was put on the north side of the hall. This was to be used as a meeting room so the entire hall would not require heating for every use.
In the 1960s the members voted to have roller skating in the hall, so it was decided to take the stage out on the west end. Since melodramas were held at the hall, it was decided to add another addition on the west for a stage and dressing rooms. The original pine floor in the hall was quite worn and rough by this time. It was also decided to put in a different heating system and a new hardwood floor throughout the entire hall. The hall was now being used for dances, dinners, meetings and also by Boy Scout Troop 70, which the members had voted to sponsor in the early 1950s. It was also used by our volunteer fire department which at that time was made up of men and women who were members of the Black Forest Community Club.
A special committee was formed in the Club to see what could be done to improve the volunteer fire department, also to train new people and take care of the two fire trucks. The population of the forest had grown to about 300 families by the 1960s.
El Paso County owned the land on the corner of Shoup and Black Forest Roads, just south of the Community Club hall. Club members had built a building just south of the hall in which one fire truck was kept. Permission was obtained from the county commissioners to erect a two-bay cement block building on the corner as a fire station. All of the materials and labor were donated by members. The cement block building has been added onto and is part of the present fire station.
Dances, bingo and dinners were held in the Community Club hall to support the fire department, along with donations. The Club furnished water to the fire station until the fire department became tax-supported in 1976.
The Black Forest Ladies Club was already in existence when the Black Forest Community Club was formed in the 1920s. These ladies were the wives of the men who had cut the logs. They had helped peel logs, furnished the kitchen, made curtains and cleaned the hall. They also donated enough money to put a ceiling in the hall. For all the things they did and were doing they were given the privilege of using the club without charge. They later joined the Colorado Extention Service and were requested to change their name to the Black Forest Extention Club by the Colorado Extention rules or laws. The Ladies Club had another name change when the state changed the name to Extention Home Makers, and they continued to meet in the hall. So the Black Forest Extention Homemakeis are a continuation of the original Black Forest Ladies Club. The ceiling was never installed in the building, although the money that was donated stayed with the club.
Many other Black Forest organizations and clubs had their start in the Community Club. The Black Forest Fire Department, the Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild (which started as the Black Forest Arts Guild), the Men's Club which later evolved into a preservation group, and finally the Black Forest Protection and Preservation Society, and the Black Forest Saddle Club were a few. For period there was also a photography club, skating club and square dance group. There were dances, dinners, bingo, melodramas, the Black Forest Festival, sponsorship of Troop 70 of the Boy Scouts, bake sales, flea markets, auctions, and pie or box suppers. Receptions and meetings were also held at the hall. Many church services, by different denominations, were held at the Community Club before they could build their own buildings. Several groups have left as they grew to self-sufficiency, and new groups have come in. The hall has also been used for weddings and family reunions or other get-togethers. These things help make the forest a better place to live.
Meetings to get electricity to the forest, as well as signing up for telephone service, have been held at the Community Club. A temporary office was set up in the hall so that people could fill out applications for natural gas service instead of going into Colorado Springs. When the area became a part of Academy School District 20, meetings were held by the Black Forest Community Club. Before the area became a part of the Academy School District, children went to Monument for school.
The roads in the forest and to Colorado Springs were dirt roads and there was no snow removal for years - the Community Club members worked with the county commissioners to improve the roads and bridges. Everyone was responsible for keeping their own roads open. This was done by shoveling, driving through with a tractor, dragging a log chain behind a team of horses, or driving a herd of cattle down the road.
We owe a lot to the early residents who built the Black Forest Community Club and to those who have worked and carried on since then. They have helped to preserve, improve and keep the building maintained. It is good to have a building of its size that can be made available to the community for different reasons. It has been needed in the past and is still needed today. It behooves all of us who enjoy and share the benefits of the Community Club to support it and carry on the unselfish tradition of those members of the past. The Community Club has been, and still is, a great benefit to the people of Black Forest.
To join the Black Forest Community Club please send your name, address, phone number, email address and a $10.00 check for annual dues to:
Black Forest Community Club
PO Box 88034
Colorado Springs, CO 80908-8034
Black Forest Community Club Web Site