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Cost of repairs to Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs has doubled in past year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Taxpayers who have already contributed $3 million for renovations to the downtown historic Pioneers Museum can expect to provide $2.5 million more.


The City Council tentatively approved the additional funds earlier this week and expects to officially vote on the matter next month.

City of Colorado Springs

Council members allocated $3 million for the project last year, when they learned that the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) needed replacement; the building opened as the El Paso County Courthouse in 1903 and became the museum in 1979.


Work on the project has yet to begin because an engineering study that was part of the initial funding allocation found that more repairs were needed to stop leaks from old pipes, and to repair crumbling pipe insulation and an old boiler.


In addition. part of the roof will need replacement -- to allow workers easy access to construction areas and to move equipment in and out.


Officials also are dealing with rising construction costs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of installing a modern HVAC system into an aging building.

The study results brought the total cost to $6 million, with museum donations covering $500,000 and the city financing the rest.


However, with inflation and continued supply chain issues, the bill may not stop there.

“Well, that’s always a concern," said museum director Matt Mayberry. "Every day that passes, there’s some risk. What we’re trying to do is get a contractor under contract right now, so that they can get equipment ordered with the money we have in hand.”


Officials said that the project will help preserve the museum's many artifacts featuring local history.

"We need to have the right balance between temperature and humidity," Mayberry explained. "If we don't, then all of the wood starts drying out, we'd have insect problems and so on."

Pioneers Museum

The project is expected to begin early next year, after the city settles on a construction bid; a schedule has yet to be determined but officials said that the work could take eight months to complete.

"We can shorten that by two months if we close to the public for two months," Mayberry said. "We're still deciding on that."


Admission to the museum is free, and more than 100,000 people visited the facility in 2019, the year before the pandemic began.

Visitors at the museum Friday said that the cost of and the need for the project seems reasonable.


"I would be very much in favor of updating whatever facilities we have here, because this is a great resource," said local resident Rick French.

Brandon and Lyz Stewart, in town for a wedding, said that they enjoyed seeing a place that provides plenty of information about the city's history.


"Not only preserving the history in the building, but the history of the building -- which you can only do under controlled circumstances," Lyz Stewart said.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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