The Save the Great Western Depots Committee of the Loveland Historical Society conducted a successful online auction fundraiser, Twelve Days of Christmas Shopping. We plan on holding another online auction called Have a Heart for the Great Western Depots, to celebrate Valentine’s Day and Loveland starting on the 5th and continuing through the month of February. One of the special items that will be auctioned is a framed print of the transformer box artwork by local artist Lyse Dzija, located at the corner of Boise and 1st street. This colorful artwork has been made available for purchase in a collaborative effort by the artist, the Loveland Historic Preservation Commission, and the Loveland Historical Society.
The artist, Lyse Dzija, was born in Quebec, Canada and has been drawing since childhood. She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while working full time, and received several awards and prizes there. She moved to Colorado to be closer to the woods, mountains, and rivers. Her plein air works tend to be rendered in pastel; her studio work, in oils. Her art is celebrated in Colorado and especially in Loveland where she has received six city commissions to paint.
Essay by Lise Dzija
I used to brisk walk by this mundane area on Madison, but when I looked around for something historical to submit for the transformer project, the trains and the depot became endearing to me. I noticed the dignity and grace of this historical Loveland train yard its tracks and ties; some abandoned, cushioned by calm snow and fanned by the gold hay of the West. I felt wonder at what this barren field must have felt like for the early settlers, who diligently built the beet factory and the feed and grain in an effort to survive.
This everyday scene of working trains on the track next to the abandoned but none the less regal depot station caused me to clearly feel a connection to the history of this town-that that I continued to feel even more so after the JC Penney’s and the Home Depot were built behind it. I wanted to convey this feeling, hence the purpose of art. And indeed, it did. The older folks stopped by at a busy intersection to tell me that were it not for the Great Western, they would not have had jobs to feed their families. The kids on bikes said they did’t know ugly old trains could look this way. So the purpose of the transformer, art and history. Perfect combo.
There is inspiration in these old train yards. It is part of our short cultural legacy here in Loveland, and deserves attention and appreciation next to the older cultures of Mesa Verde. The trains carried supplies to and from this town and through the labor of hard workers, the town became born and lives in full vitality. The trains work daily, and have for the last hundred years.
For me this was about transforming a barren lone landscape into a fertile vibrant one. I think this concept plays an important role in the community’s appeal. Aesthetics are extremely important. Humans crave physical beauty and look for it in the things around us as we stop at 4 way traffic lights. In the increasing clone like buildings around us, painting this transformer project was a testament to some form of life nearby a neatly groomed lawn and the 4 way stoplights. So, I hope I can inspire a higher level of thought about this town’s soul, and for that matter, art in general.
This print is a photo of Trains at Monroe, a City-owned electrical cabinet painted by Dzija for the City of Loveland Art in Public Places Transformations Project in 2011. The artwork, located at the corner of Boise Ave and 1st Street, depicts the Great Western Railway Depot off Monroe Avenue in Loveland, Colorado. You may access Dzija’s website to view her work at www.lysedzija.com
We hope the Have a Heart for the GW Depots online auction will be even more successful in raising funds to relocate, restore, and reuse both the passenger depot and the freight depot. It will open Feb. 5.
The goal for the depot buildings, currently on Monroe and 10th Street, will be to move them south a few yards to the vacant City land north of the Police and Courts building. Although our efforts have been rather in low gear because of the pandemic, we are pleased with the support from Loveland and the surrounding area. The generosity shown is heartwarming, especially during these difficult days, and is always helpful.
To date we have raised over $14,000, and spent $10,000 on building integrity assessment, environmental assessment (hazardous materials), and marketing (logo development and advertising). An estimate needed for the first phase of the project has been given as $78,000. We are searching and applying for grants to offset the costs. We will take the proposal to City Council, who we hope, will accept and then move the depots to the city property this year. Council will be looking at the extent of public support for the project to save these icons of Loveland’s past.
The Great Western Sugar Company (1901 – 1985) increased Loveland’s population 300% in the first decade of its operation. Our economy was booming for nearly ninety years while an increasing number of farmers contracted to raise sugar beets for GW and the sugar factory ran its annual beet campaigns. Two or three generations of almost every Loveland family was connected with the sugar factory and its Great Western Railway (1902 – 1926 last passenger train, late 1980s last tourist train ride). Our town’s collective family histories are inextricable from the Great Western Sugar Company.
Let’s save the GW Depots together, Loveland! You can donate online at www.lovelandhistorical.org, bid on an auction item on our Facebook page soon in February, or mail a check for any amount to: LHS, PO Box 7311, Loveland, CO, 80537. Thanks for your continued support!
The Have a Heart for the GW Depots online auction to celebrate Loveland as the Sweetheart City as well as Valentine's Day during the month of February will be live at this link on Feb. 5: https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/Have-a-heart-for-the-Loveland-GW-Depots-19788 The auction is a colaborative fundraiser to save and reuse the Great Western Depot buildings at 10th and Monroe Ave. You may also donate at the auction site, or here on our website, or mail a check to LHS, PO Box 7311, 80537. Your continued support is vital to the efforts to save these historic Loveland icons for our descendants.