Why can’t we be friends?

Gilpin Historical Society

By Dave Forsyth, PhD

After the Central City Opera House’s grand opening on March 3 and 4, 1878, the Pueblo Democrat wrote that while the Opera House was grand, it would be more impressed when Central City and Black Hawk built equally grand schools and churches. With town rivalries alive and well, Central City’s Evening Call responded with the following editorial on March 11, 1878: …is it possible that a gentleman of your intelligence and inquiring turn of mind has lived in Colorado a full twelve months and never heard of the educational facilities of Central and Black Hawk? Has Mr. Bennett, your present principal, with whom, by the way Central supplied you,  never told you of the school house-capped hills that surround the Golden Queen of the mountains? Do you not know of the Central public school—paid for, Doctor, yes paid for— with its average attendance of 400 pupils, and its efficient corps of teachers, male and female— the pride of our people and the admiration of the State? Did you never hear of our public library, with its 5,000 volumes, comprising the leading works in biography, history, science and fiction, with a translation of ancient classics as well as the French, German, Spanish and Italian authors? Why, Doctor, the mere reading of a catalogue would brush you up in your humanities. We’ll send you a copy. Have you never heard of St. Aloysius Academy, under the direction of the good sisters, whose cross-capped walls of brick and mortar, perched upon the very apex of Mount St. Vincent, commands the attention of the tourist as he leaves the train and Black Hawk and wends his way to Central? And paid for again, Doctor, aye, paid for. Have you never heard of the Public School at Black Hawk, with its average attendance of 875 scholars and its seven teachers? Why, Doctor, the pupils of the Black Hawk school publish a monthly paper almost as large as the Democrat and published at the Call office. We’ll send you a copy.

Are you not aware that the school houses of Central and Black Hawk were the first school houses in the state worthy of the name, not even excepting Denver? The former cost $20,000 and the latter $15,000, both paid for. Did you never hear that the Central public school has turned out fourteen teachers, the greatest of any one school in the state, not excepting Denver? The first school house in that state that cost over $500 was erected in Central, and that at a cost of $20,000, thus leading the Rocky Mountain regions in the matter of education. Do you not know that the town of Pueblo is nineteen years old, and has not had a school for ten years until the present session? And as regards our churches, we have the Methodist, a magnificent building of granite, with a large and prosperous congregation; and they publish a paper, also printed at the Call office, will send you a copy. We have the Roman Catholic Church, another granite building, with Father Finotti at its head, the most learned divine in the Catholic diocese of Denver, a man who was honored above his fellows, in being chosen above all others to pronounced the eulogium upon the late pontiff. It also is attended by a large and respectable congregation and they published a paper, also printed at the Call office; will send you a copy. We have also the Presbyterian Church, a very respectable edifice. And then we have St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, beautiful stone edifice, built in the shape of a cross and second to but one church edifice in the state, the one lately completed in Denver. And all, if we mistake not, are out of debt, or so little in debt as to feel no inconvenience, and not to stand in need of a church debt raiser.

As you see, Doctor, now is the time to speak out, right out loud in church, and acknowledge that in the above notice you have been misled. Our Opera House is not near as fine a building as our Methodist Church, and far inferior to any of our school houses. Why, Doctor, if you wish to see the most prosperous portion of the State, you must come north of Denver. Come to Central and Black Hawk. You have but a faint conception of the magnificent works and illimitable resources of the Centennial State. But above all, Doctor, remember that Central has the finest school houses, the finest churches, the best hotel, the finest opera house, the best paying mines, the most extensive works, the best musical talent, the handsomest women, and, with the help of our patrons, will make the Call one of the best newspapers in the State.

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