If you live here, you've probably driven past this enormous, castle-like building and its gracious grounds more than once and wondered what it was all about. Situated on the southeast corner of Union Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue, the Union Printers Home is, as you've probably assumed, historically significant. Built in 1891 at a cost of around $71,000 (!!!) and opened in 1892, it served for generations as the convalescent/retirement home for members of the International Typographical Union -- that is, the guys who printed newspapers, magazines, periodicals and books. It must have been a dangerous job. Just think about all the heavy machinery and toxic chemicals they were exposed to constantly, as well as the noise! The union was officially formed in 1852, and in the ensuing years made great progress in securing better working conditions for its members, including an eight hour work day, something we all take for granted now. Even so, workers in the printing trade were prone to tuberculosis (and who knows how many other ailments and injuries), which is why the Union Printers Home was built here. Colorado Springs and tuberculosis go hand in hand! [Read THIS post if you're curious to know about our city's tuberculosis-treating history.]
Just to the south of the original 1891 edifice you'll find a couple of cool Mid-Century Modern office buildings. They were built to house the union's headquarters, which relocated from Indianapolis to Colorado Springs in 1961. At the end of 1986 the ITU merged with the Communication Workers of America, and since then the 1960s-era buildings have been home to various medical offices, county services and other uses.
The beautiful old Printers Home is still an assisted living healthcare facility to this day, and it's open to the public. In fact, one of my friends works there. I called their offices yesterday in researching this blog post, and though no one there was able to help me, I did learn that they have a museum! I live only a couple of blocks away and I cannot resist a museum, so of course I will be checking that out as soon as I am able. I took these photos on August 5th. As you can see, the Union Printers Home is just as beautiful as it has always been. If you're interested in knowing more, visit their website HERE.
This cupola may look a little familiar to you because it's very similar to the El Paso Club's cupola, downtown. The ornate weather vane reads "1891," the year the Union Printers Home was built.