Earlier this month Pat Means officially stepped down from her position as chairperson for the Historical Preservation Advisory Board. Her decision itself was an historic event since it signaled something unique for a woman who has been immersed for 15 years in the fabric of her community. For the first time in a long time Means, who has habitually stepped forward, is stepping back.
A decade and a half ago she retired from operating a Glenwood Springs bed and breakfast and relocated to Cedaredge where she immediately became involved in local activities. Means was impressed with Cedaredge's heritage and joined in efforts to preserve and celebrate local history as soon as she arrived. This included work with Pioneer Town and the Historical Society. She also joined other community organizations including Friends of the Cedaredge Public Library and the Meals on Wheels program for seniors.
In 2008 she ran for public office and served a year as a town trustee then seven years as mayor. During her time as mayor her dedication to historic preservation increased when Cedaredge began upgrading its downtown area. In 2014, when Main Street was completely renovated, workers discovered an old fire-pit on the west end of the street -- a place where a hundred years earlier residents had dumped and burned trash. And when the street workers dug deeper they encountered huge subterranean boulders around which early builders had creatively snaked water pipes.
"Everywhere you looked," she recalls, "there were memories of historic Cedaredge."
She proudly displays the Cedaredge Heritage Trail brochure -- a guidebook to a walking tour of vintage Surface Creek structures. The brochure is available at Pioneer Town or from the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce at 245 West Main Street. The tour begins in Eckert with that community's distinctive Presbyterian Church built between 1915 and 1919. And it ends in Cedaredge at a Sears Catalog House built in 1911.
"You opened the Sears catalog," Means explained, "picked a house plan, ordered the materials, and put it all together."
The walking tour brochure was published in 2016 and already it has been outdated by the addition of four more historic sites with a dozen more waiting in the wings. Eventually it got to be more than Means, who has experienced health issues, could handle. And so she has begun cutting back.
Of course, that doesn't mean giving up everything. She's still President of the Friends of the Library and President of the Surface Creek Lions Club. She's proud that the Lions recently awarded $3,000 in student scholarships, all funded by Bingo. And she remains active with the Cedaredge Library Foundation, the Ladies Golf Club, the Literary Guild, and -- well you get the idea. Her idea of "stepping back" doesn't mean "shutting down."
Aside from her continuing interest in town history, Means' current passion is to increase her involvement with the town's 100-year-old Literary Guild. Each year the guild hosts a party for young women graduating from Cedaredge High School and Means is often called upon to speak at the gathering. The event is held, fittingly, in the historic Stolte Shed -- a community gathering spot named for Dr. Ernest Stolte who built the Sears catalog house. Community women and new graduates meet to celebrate the milestone of high school completion and the beginning of future adventures. Each graduating girl is welcomed into a community of supporting mentors and given a book to commemorate the event.
And speaking of books, last year the guild opened a "Little Free Library'" which resides on an outside wall of the Stolte Shed. The guild keeps the little library supplied with books which the public is invited to take and read. The guild is planning to open a second site somewhere in town. An interest in libraries comes naturally to Means who spent many happy childhood hours reading books.
"I lived at the library," she recalls.
And it seems appropriate that she continues to pursue her community work in Colorado because she has vivid memories of the first time she visited the state. At an early age, a family trip included a visit to the Garden of the Gods and, after seeing such spectacular scenery, she declared in no uncertain terms, "I'm going to live in Colorado!"
She has fulfilled that wish and the Cedaredge community has been all the better for it.