Nestled snugly against the massive stacks and stoves of the old Colorado Fuel and Iron Steel Mill, the neighborhood of Bessemer has always been viewed in a smoky shadow. A recent neighborhood historic context study commissioned by the City of Pueblo's Historic Preservation Commission, funded and supported financially by Bessemer Historical Society and Historic Pueblo, Inc. dramatically changes that notion. The history of the Bessemer neighborhood has always been closely tied to the steel mill but it has a depth and diversity that is all its own. Bessemer is easily one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West.
Forged Together in the Bessemer Neighborhood (PDF) is the result of a yearlong study into the development, history, culture, and architecture of this unique neighborhood.
Conducted by Historitecture LLC, the Bessemer study is the last in the city's Neighborhood Heritage Enhancement program which conducted 4 neighborhood context studies and one citywide Modernism study covering most of the city's built environment from 1870 to 1982. The Bessemer study delves into traditional architectural history and includes a style guide to help residents identify architectural styles from small Minnequa Town Company housing and ethnic churches, to "alley houses" and the ever-present 'house-with-commercial-(generally a bar)- attached'.
In addition to the style guide, the preservation plan will help residents and policy makers utilize the information for future preservation and general planning efforts. Beyond most traditional context studies, the Bessemer report outlines revitalization efforts that were early (1940's) and earnest and continue to this day in this neighborhood of 6,116 people (2010 Census). However the population decline has leveled off recently and organizations like the Bessemer Historical Society are using the areas rich industrial past to chart its future.
Furthermore some of the city's finest culinary destinations are located in Bessemer and it is home to friendly, neighborhood bars which function as gateways to the past. Citizens can download the study from the link below for free, or get hard bound copies from Bessemer Historical Society or Historic Pueblo Inc. for a fee. The city can always make arrangement to provide digital copies to anyone for free as well. We hope the document is useful for lifetime residents of Bessemer and newcomers alike.