Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Dani Hemmat

Gunbarrel native will help preserve state’s history


January 10, 2019

Courtesy photo

Gunbarrel native will help preserve state’s history

Gunbarrel native Catherine (Smith) Rossett has been appointed as the new executive director of the Colorado Historical Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports history and historic preservation projects in our state.

Rossett, daughter of Gunbarrel residents Liz and Fred Smith, is only the second person to act as full-time director of the foundation in its 53-year history. The previous director was Lane Ittelson, who held the position for 19 years.

A non-profit organizational leader for years, Rossett is passionate about exploring and celebrating Colorado’s diverse history.

“I believe people feel a sense of connection and pride when they know the memories and the heritage of their communities and can experience what a place looked like long ago,” Rossett said. “Downtown Niwot is a great example of celebrating a town’s historic character. Its historic buildings become the backdrop for drawing locals and visitors together for festivals, parades and other community gatherings.”

Rossett is excited to support the Foundation’s mission of supporting historic preservation projects and developing history education programs.

“During this time of record population growth, historical preservation is playing a key role in place-making throughout Colorado’s communities,” she said. “My hope is to build upon our 50-plus years of success and expand our reach. We want more historic property owners, community stakeholders and history-related organizations to know about the financial tools and services available to them through the Foundation.”

Rossett has no formal training as a historian or preservationist, but she believes this will bring a unique perspective to her work with the Foundation. Her role for the past six years was as CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado Chapter, during which she worked with several architects who specialized in rehabilitating historic buildings.

“I came to appreciate the many nuances of historic preservation and what an important role it can play in a community’s economic vitality,” Rossett said.

This appreciation of historical architecture is just one of the motivating factors that drew Rossett to take on the leadership of preserving the Centennial State’s colorful past.

“In addition to providing behind-the-scenes financial tools and services that support the rehabilitation and maintenance of historic buildings and helping people understand the benefits of historic preservation,” she said, “I look forward to collaborating with other organizations, policymakers and citizens throughout Colorado to ensure educational programs, exhibits and other projects that help residents and visitors celebrate our state’s history.”


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