Elbert County Museum

The Elbert County Museum was originally built as the Kiowa High School during an era when one room school districts were consolidating to form larger ones.  Kiowa Consolidated School District C2 is believed to have been one of the first in the county to begin consolidation, starting in 1920.

Working with Denver based architect and engineering firm, Gardner & Parry; and building contractor, W. F. Pigg; the Directors of Kiowa C-2 elected to construct a new building on the crest of the hill just east of the newly platted Kruse‘s Addition to the Town of Kiowa.  It’s unclear how the Directors came to decide the building’s architectural style in an age where the predominant choice of construction in this area was either stick or frame.  Never the less, the Spanish colonial architecture was chosen with its stucco, ornamental brickwork and tile, arched windows and doorways –all examples of a style that does not exist within a 50-mile radius.

The Kiowa High School shortly after completion, 1921.

The Kiowa High School shortly after completion, 1921.

By today’s standards, the building was constructed quickly with materials being shipped by train to Elbert; then hauled by team and wagon and automobile from Elbert to Kiowa.  When its doors were opened to students in the fall of 1921, the new school house was hailed in the local paper as being entirely modern, complete with electricity, steam heat, indoor restroom facilities and a gymnasium in the basement.  Although the gym on the lower level was small, it served its purpose until 1955 when it was replaced by the newly constructed red brick Kiowa Elementary School building next door and was subsequently carved into three classrooms.  Over the next three decades the building functioned as the primary high school building until 1985, when the district finally retired the structure for a larger, more modern facility.

The Elbert County Historical Society acquired the building in 1991 and began the long, tedious task of repair and restoration on the old school house—a process that continues to this day.  In 1993, the Elbert County Museum officially opened its doors.  The building was named an Elbert County Landmark in 2000.