Sallie Bush Community Center to Become Latest Sales Venture of Historic GMF Foundation

Deal Expected for Closure in Late March; Major Renovations Planned

Rick Langenberg

One of  Green Mountain Falls’  prime and historic town hubs will soon have a new owner, but an operator with strong community ties and no newcomer in the special events/artistic arena.

As a result, the Green Box Arts group, which is well known for their annual festival and their operation of the GMF Skyspace project, will take another giant leap in becoming more of a year-round presence in GMF.

Recently voted on and approved by the congregation of the Church in the Wildwood, the Sallie Bush Community Center is now under contract to be purchased by the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, with a closing date scheduled for March 31, according to a press release.

The tentative price has been slated about $500,000 with a $100,000 cash down-payment and a $400,000 endowment arrangement with the church.

“This is a win-win for everybody involved, the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, Green Box, the town, the church and the residents, said  Jesse Stroope, of the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, LLC.

“We really have had no negative feedback.  We have received a lot of ‘thank yous.’”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to increase utilization of the space both as a community center and through future Green Box programming for all visitors and residents to enjoy,” added Stroope in an earlier released press release, announcing the deal.

Stroope went on to say that although there are plans for improvement to the structure and functionality of the space, all existing reservations for the space will be fulfilled this year. “We look forward to honoring this cherished historical building for the community’s enjoyment for many years to come.’

According to Stroope, no changes will occur in the building’s use throughout the summer of 2023, as the center has a full lineup of bookings.   Then, the planning will occur for new renovations, aimed at modernizing the structure more, but enhancing its historic features.

“It is going to remain a community building,” said Stroope, in citing the facility’s vital resource as a spot for local meetings and functions.

In fact, Stroope, often viewed as the face behind many of the functions for Green Box and Historic GMF Foundation, mentioned increasing the use of the facility as one of the prime goals. It would definitely become an important venue for Green Box workshops, artistic events and more. Stroope himself plans to become a full-time resident of the area.

Another big winner is the Church in the Wildwood, which has played a role in managing the facility, not an easy task. It also will help the church financially in achieving its mission and remaining a big fixture in the community.

“We are delighted to enter into this contractual agreement with the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation” said Pastor Darlene Avery of the Church in the Wildwood. “The core missions of this organization, combined with the mission of Green Box, makes them the best stewards for much-needed improvements, operations, and augmented programming for the community to continue enjoying.”

Through a nonprofit agreement, the church has been the main organization that has held the title to the facility, and has used it for wedding receptions and other functions. The building was originally obtained by the town, via a tax lien.

The facility, since it reopened following much renovation several years ago, has also been used as a site for various community meetings and gatherings.  The Sallie Bush center also has operated with a board of directors.

Whether that board will continue still has not been determined.

Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation is an LLC of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and is committed to the enhancement and preservation of the unique qualities of Green Mountain Falls and Chipita Park.

Properties acquired are owned to preserve the integrity of the architectural assets in Green Mountain Falls and  protect the back-scape and serene views of the national forest from inappropriate development. The organization primarily focuses on the protection of open space, parks, and trails, as well as preservation of historic structures.

“We believe our efforts support quality of life as well as create a positive environment that is friendly to businesses and residents in Green Mountain Falls, said Liz Eickman of the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, LLC.

A good example of recent beautification efforts is the new Red Butte Recreational Area, which was purchased by the organization. In partnership with the town and Green Box, the Green Mountain Falls Skyspace installation. This installation, which became  the first  Skyspace in the world to be carved into the side of a mountain, opened on this property last summer by artist James Turrell. Locals  describe it as a remote, mountain-like mini, planetarium, with an open, unobstructed view of the skyline and night sky. Sunrise and sunset shows gained much popularity during the summer and fall, along with special light displays.

Preserved in its natural setting, the area boasts two new recreational hiking trails and a town overlook, offering hikers a one-of-a-kind recreational opportunity with great views of Gazebo Lake and the foothills of Pikes Peak.

According to Stroope, the Skyspace exhibit is still going strong, even during the winter.  “There is  not a bad time to be there,” said Stroope, who has described the experience as a prime meditative spot.

Currently, it is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. The Skyspace, which officially opened last June, is designed to attract visitors from around the world.  It is one of 80 Skyspace exhibits across the globe.

The Green Box Arts group is probably more known for the annual Green Box Arts Festival, extending from mid-June to the July 4th holiday, featuring a variety of art and cultural events for a several week period.

“We are excited not only to continue but enhance the building’s use by and for the community of Green Mountain Falls, while also being able to expand Green Box’s year-round programming,” said Scott Levy, Executive Director of Green Box. “The Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation’s purchase of this historic building will improve the flexibility for a wide range of performing arts, arts education, and visiting residency programming for all to enjoy.”

Additional Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation properties include Mountain Road Corner at the intersection of Ute Pass and Mountain Road, the Green Box Arts Workshop on Lake Street, and Lakeview Terrace, which consists of two buildings: a historic inn and The Shed, a renovated residential space that houses Green Box’s Artists in Residence. Other properties owned by the foundation include H.B. Wallace Reserve, Mount Dewey, and Red Butte.

The Kirkpatrick Family Fund has also partnered with the town on previous restoration efforts of the Sallie Bush Community Building, a Lake Street Beautification Project, maintenance projects to the park and Gazebo Lake, as well as hosting the annual Green Box Arts Festival each summer.