Montrose, CO — The century-old Potato Growers Association building located at 39 West Main Street is an iconic downtown landmark whose agricultural legacy will live on indefinitely following its recent addition to the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.
The Colorado State Register of Historic Properties is a listing of the state’s significant cultural resources worthy of preservation for the future education and enjoyment of Colorado’s residents and visitors. Properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places are automatically placed in the Colorado State Register.
In 2019 the City Council listed the building on the city’s Register of Historic Places, upon recommendation by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. In 2018, the city adopted a Historic Preservation ordinance that created the city’s Register of Historic Places and outlines a process for buildings to be listed on the register.
“The Potato Growers Association building was the first privately owned property to be listed on the city’s Register of Historic Places and we are thrilled that the building owners pursued listing it on the State and National Registers as well. We are proud that this beautiful building is now officially recognized nationally as an important historic resource,” said Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler.
The historic brick structure was built in 1908 after the original wooden structure burned earlier that same year. The building was a warehouse for the Montrose Fruit Growers Association, the Montrose Fruit and Produce Association, and later on for the Montrose Potato Growers Association.
The building is significant for its association with the agricultural history of Montrose and the Western Slope. Historical records indicate that wool was stored in the warehouse throughout the 1940s and potatoes were stored in the building in the 1950s, according to David Fishering, a co-owner of the building. He said additional documents show the building was used for cold storage for local restaurants in the 1960s.
“We are extremely excited that the nomination for the Montrose Fruit and Produce Association building (now known as the Potato Growers building) was accepted by the National Park Service,” said Fishering. “We put a lot of work into researching the history of the building and its significance to the area, so we are glad it paid off. With our listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is now recognized at every level of government as having been historically significant, both as a commercial hub and architecturally.
Last year the Fisherings began rehabilitating the inside of the Potato Growers building that had sat abandoned and open to the elements for decades. New base flooring with fresh timbers and a new roof was installed and completed by January 2020. This necessary work elevated the building to a starting point for further rehabilitation without changing the original character of the structure.
“For us as developers, the listing helps us with funding the rehabilitation project,” Fishering said. “As members of the community, the listing brings recognition to the building, the men and women who worked there, and the community. We were an economic and agricultural powerhouse in the region, the state, and the country during the early 20th century. It is something to be proud of and we hope to continue our rehabilitation project to get the building back to being something the community is excited about.”
For more information about the work of the Historic Preservation Commission visit: www.CityofMontrose.org/History.