Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
HistoryShare: 1901 Letter from Rector Rev. Arthur Taft to “The People of Colorado Springs in the year 2001”
Date: February 20, 2017
Topic: 1901 Letter from Rev. Arthur Taft, Rector of St. Stephen’s Church to “The People of Colorado Springs in the year 2001”
Source: Century Chest, Tutt Library, Colorado College
Researcher: Judith Reid Finley, local Colorado Springs historian
In 1901, Rev. Arthur Taft, rector of St. Stephen’s Church, wrote the following letter to the people of the city in 2001. In it he hoped “that you of The New Century will be living under the American flag.” He commented, “Some now living think that our Republic cannot last. That soon we will have a form of limited monarchy.” I have copied Rev. Taft’s entire letter here for you to read.
We are grateful to Judith Reid Finley, author of Coming of Age in Colorado Springs, 1945 – 1955 and Time Capsule 1900: Colorado Springs A Century Ago, for contributing a copy of Rev. Taft’s letter to the Grace and St. Stephen’s Archives. It will be catalogued under Rev. Taft’s name.
Century Chest transcription 108
St. Stephen’s Church, Colorado Springs, Colo.
To the People of Colorado Springs, In the year 2001.
It has been proposed that we who now live in Colorado Springs should write letters to you who, we trust, will be filling our places a century from now.
Whether this even happens is of course unknowable to us. A hundred years is a long time. Colorado Springs may have passed utterly out of existence by that time, again, I judge from the remarkable change which has taken place during the last century, it may be a great and flourishing city instead of the pretty country town it now is.
We who are now working for its welfare believe that there is a great future before it, and yet as a health resort it may fail as so many towns have failed before; the gold may give out in Cripple Creek and men may go elsewhere in search of fortunes.
Hoping however that when the next Century opens, thatthee our letters will be read by members of a large, flourishing city, I will try to describe this town as it now is.
I came here a year ago last February, direct from New York City. It took me three nights and two days – the very shortest time it was possible to make the journey in. How do you do it now? We often wonder. Airships, we dream about. The other day in Paris, one was successfully tried which to some extent proved manageable. The first on record. Have you got so you sail everywhere in them? Perhaps you fly too. Well, well, we thought we had done great things but I suppose it looks as nothing to you.
But to return to our letter, Colorado Springs, How antiquated I feel already! The Colorado Springs of today is at first sight a very disappointing town. It is only 30 years old and everything looks so new. The time I went through the business part of town I thought it such the ugliest place I had ever seen. The buildings were mostly of brick; red or yellow. There are a few houses of stone but very few. The “Antlers” the fine new hotel we all pride ourselves in just now was not built. Instead a small ugly brick building called Alta Vista was our best hotel.
By the way, whatever became of the Antlers? Did it burn down or did some terrible mob of strikers sack it – killing every one within reach. Some of our contemporaries predict for us a great and bloody revolution as the French one of 1793. Did it come? And were these magnificent houses which we are just beginning to see built by our millionaires. Were they also destroyed? Well I hope not, at least I hope the country was saved from the frightful scenes which disgraced the French last century.
But to return again to our subject. The business part of Colorado Springs ends with Bijou St. Most of our buildings are one storied, although there are two or three at present which reach the height of six. Do they go up to 36? In New York we have one that high. Are they all gone now or are they twice as high. How ugly they must be. How often we wonder whether our “future” your “present” will be like our present, only “more so” or whether you will change the whole method and look back at us as on the wrong track.
Let me tell you that we often have our suspicions that we are not doing all we might for ourselves or this world. We feel that we are entangled in an awful net from which we can’t break away.
After you leave Bijou street as I said a moment ago, you are entirely in the residential portions of this town. Tejon St. has a trolley line – N. Cascade and North Nevada has not. The houses are all set back from the street and have pretty gardens and shade trees. The houses are mostly of wood, dark green and white trimmings are the fashion just now. Some however are red and white. The streets are very wide. We have them that way for you – I hope you like them. Whenever we complain of our too wide & dusty streets, people always say “we are building for the future.”
“The Future” is you, how do you like it? Wouldn’t it be dreadful if there wasn’t any “you.” Then who would read our letters?
As one stands on our wide street and looks north one can see the deep trees of Austin Bluffs and the grey of the prairies. It only takes a few moments to drive up there. The automobiles of course go much faster.
By the way do you ever see any Indians now, or have they gone with the Buffalo’s? We have not many about here although there are some tribes further south. We have some in town today on exhibition. Some Utes and Pueblos. I mean to see them.
Well, I can’t write more to you now, and just to think that this is my only chance to be read in the future.
How strange to think of the changes that you will know. What will be the government of the country? Some now living think that our Republic cannot last. That soon we will have a form of limitted [sic] monarchy. We appreciate our own faults & failings, but still we hope that you of The New Century will be living under the American flag and the flag a republican one!
With very best wishes to you,
Your sincere friend
Arthur N. Taft
Rector of St. Stephens Prot. Epis. Ch., Colorado Springs,
Written the 1st day of August 1901