A Brief History of the Organization and Founding of the Old North End Neighborhood

Friday, June 3, 2016

As the Old North End Neighborhood has gone to work to try to ameliorate problems created by the recent shift of Colorado Springs city buses to North Nevada Avenue, questions have been raised about the Old North End Neighborhood’s organization and authority. This brief history will demonstrate how the Old North End Neighborhood was created and grew in influence over the years:

“In 1955, Penrose Hospital announced plans to build a 14-story hospital building at North Cascade Avenue and Madison Street at the northern edge of the Old North End. The building was going to be the highest building constructed in Colorado Springs up to that time. Although most Old North End residents considered themselves friends and supporters of Penrose Hospital, a number of them questioned the wisdom of putting such a tall building in one of the most beautiful Victorian neighborhoods in Colorado Springs.

“Two residents of the Old North End, Jean Szymanski and Ruth Shaw, organized their neighbors to oppose construction of the new hospital building. Although they lost the battle against the expansion of the hospital, Szymanski and Shaw succeeded at forming the homeowners’ association that eventually became the Old North End Neighborhood (ONEN). The organization received its Colorado state charter in February of 1957. Jean Szymanski served as president of the organization from 1958 to 1968.

“The rapid population growth in Colorado Springs during the late 1960s and early 1970s put a variety of new economic pressures on the Old North End. Traffic increased substantially on North Cascade and North Nevada avenues. With all those automobiles driving by, some property owners in the Old North End felt the urge to convert their houses into commercial usages, such as arts-and-crafts stores or sidewalk-cafe restaurants or multi-family apartments. The homeowners’ association became the logical organization to resist these compromises to the residential character of the Old North End.

“The Old North End mainly employed the zoning laws of Colorado Springs to stop the incursion of commercial uses into the neighborhood. Virtually all of the Old North End was zoned residential, so lobbying the Colorado Springs City Council to strictly enforce the residential zoning codes became the first line of defense for the neighborhood. Beverly Reinitz, president of the association from 1969 to 1975, fought many successful battles to keep small retail stores, office buildings, group homes for convicts or the drug-addicted, and multi-family housing projects out of the Old North End.”

Tomorrow we shall review what have been the major accomplishments of the Old North End Neighborhood over the years.

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