[Delta, Colo. | February 2020 | San Juan Silver Stage | By LaBree Shide]
The Montrose Botanic Gardens has a variety of plans to fill the remaining 2.5 acres of its grounds, but one of the more interesting and historical aspects is the Kallstrom Jacal Homestead. The Montrose Botanical Society (MBS) is eager to create an interpretive site using what was recovered from the homestead’s location.
Local archaeologist, Steve Baker, and historian, Marilyn Cox, were instrumental in securing the property years ago. It was just a broken-down building in the middle of Cerise Park. Most people who passed by it probably didn’t realize the historical significance and just thought it was a rundown shed or barn. In reality, it was a jacal building (pronounced “ha-kal”) from the Kallstrom Homestead.
Archaeologist Jonathon Horn described the structure as the “oldest surviving historical architectural elements in the city and county of Montrose.” The building was erected around the same time Montrose was founded in 1882. The jacal structure is unique in its design, similar to adobe except the logs run vertically instead of horizontally. It was a popular building style amongst settlers in the Southwest and Mexico.
There was much discussion and debate about what to do with the walls. The city considered reconstructing them where they were, but what is now a recreational/park area didn’t lend itself to the historical nature of the walls. The MBS was excited to take on the project and preserve the history to present it to the community and visitors. The City donated the walls to the Gardens in 2018.
Volunteers from the Gardens, as well as archaeologists and architects, extracted the two most complete walls and put them in storage while the final design plans are being made. Local architect, John Eloe, has drawn up several conceptual drawings, and the MBS is busy deciding on the final look. The plan is to use the walls to “interpret the initial agriculture settlement of the Uncompahgre Valley,” Horn stated. Surrounding the walls and a big part of the design will be a demonstration garden showcasing the crops and garden plants grown by the first settlers of the area. There are also plans to plant apricot trees that came from cuttings from the actual site. Soon, the Kallstrom Homestead will stand again, next to apricot trees as it did when it was built.
As the plans and designs are finalized by the Montrose Botanic Gardens this spring, the MBS is gearing up for the project’s fundraising. If you would like to donate to the jacal homestead and/or the Montrose Botanic Gardens, or learn more about the Gardens, please visit us and our website. montrosegardens.org