Hand hewn logs from Civil War Era Ohio barn.

Hand hewn logs from Civil War Era Ohio barn.

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the Headwaters Center in downtown Winter Park and get an inside look at a magnificent work in progress.  You probably have heard whispers, rumors or even the naming acronyms tossed around for the development at the edge of town so we thought it was time to start offering a glimpse of what will soon become a unique community amenity and educational resource for higher learning.

The facility was the vision of Bob and Suzanne Fanch, who had been looking for an ideal location to build a center focused on water issues. This has been a long-time concern and passion for many, including Bob and Suzanne. Placing the Center adjacent to the Fraser River is a great way to communicate how diversions from the river have impacted it over time–and what other rivers in the state can expect to happen with the growing population in Colorado.  

The mission of the Headwaters Center is to raise awareness about Fraser River threats and opportunities, to provide higher education learning experiences and to create a cultural hub for events and special interests at the indoor community center and the outdoor event space.

When the Town of Winter Park offered the land to be developed as a community center, the Fanch’s realized it was the perfect location to bring their vision to life. The Center also fulfills the goal of having more cultural options and providing a bricks and mortar center for higher education in Grand County.

The complex sits on about 5 acres and will have trails with interpretive signage that connect to vibrant wetlands, river access, and the Fraser River Trail System. The Center will feature educational components inside and outside the main facility. The indoor exhibits will be a collection of interactive experiences for the visitor in a 4400 sq ft space just off the main entryway.  That portion of the facility is still in the planning stages and should open sometime in the spring of 2019.

The building itself is remarkable.  The Fanch’s discovered a barn in Ohio that was a Civil War Era barn, a barn built sometime in the 1840’s and reclaimed it in its entirety and moved to the Valley.  No small undertaking to say the least.  The original “Hand Hewn” logs span nearly 100 feet in the main event space.

The exterior of the barn has an interesting red tone from years of weathered paint that has penetrated deep into the texture giving it a stunning look and feel.  The mason work on exterior walls and building showcases Colorado mountain moss rock from the Fraser Valley. This is truly a beautiful piece of engineering.

Headwaters Center is funded by the Sprout Foundation. This 501(c)(3) has been supporting programs dedicated to children or the

Granite moss rock from the Fraser Valley.

Granite moss rock from the Fraser Valley.

environment in Grand County and Denver for more than a decade. In addition, the Center will help fulfill a broader goal of increased offerings to draw more visitors to the area through providing meeting and event space that has not been available before, resulting in a more robust local economy.

Kristin Ashworth Fanch and Andrea Caflisch led our tour. One thing Kristin said along the way struck a chord, “This is a unique opportunity to combine educational components and event spaces for endless possibilities.”  

Headwaters Center will host events open to the public, including indoor and outdoor concerts/live music, food-oriented events such as wine tastings and dinners, dances, speaker series, farmers’ market, festivals, holiday celebrations, and various activities—the sky’s the limit. Kristin said “When the ecology center is established, we foresee offering learning programs that support our water-focused mission, such as educational river walks that touch upon river health, flora and fauna, or hosting relevant speakers. “

Fanch offered, “In late January 2018, we anticipate being ready to open up and offer the indoor event space for use.  Next, the higher education space (Higher Minds Loft) will be ready. And the ecology center is targeted to open in the Spring of 2019”

I have run out of ink but there is so much more to tell.  There is a sustainable angle to this story and next time we visit the property, I will highlight a vision for the facility “off grid” design elements along with interesting features and educational aspects of this magnificent addition to our community.