Thursday, March 15, 2018

HGB Ep. 249 - Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design

Moment in Oddity - Seaborn Goodall House
Suggested by: Nicole Dixon

Jacksonborough in Georgia was once the county seat of Screven, but today nobody would know that it had ever existed, save for one house, the Seaborn Goodall House. Lorenzo Dow was a traveling preacher and when he arrived in Jasksonborough, he expected the local folk to be very welcoming. After all, this was the south, known for its hospitality. But he found the townspeople to be quite the opposite. They were cold and rude. Seaborn Goodall was different. He invited Dow to come stay at his house. Dow's first sermon in town drew a large crowd and he thought perhaps he had misjudged everyone. However, the people were not there to worship and soon Dow figured out that they were all drunk. They cursed him and screamed for him to leave town. Dow decided that he should do just that and he shook the dust of the town from his feet and called out an eternal curse on Jacksonborough. That curse declared that no business would prosper and that all the homes would eventually be destroyed, except the home of Seaborn Goodall. Soon, fires sprung up, the creek flooded the town and mysterious winds ripped roofs off of homes. Houses not destroyed by natural disasters just literally fell to the ground. Once prosperous stores were forced to close when they began to lose money. The only thing that managed to stand was the bridge. Every home was gone, except for one. The home of Seaborn Goodall. That house remained unburned, unflooded and undamaged. Through it all, his home stood solid, always unburned by the fires, undamaged by the storms and floods. And the house still stands over 160 years later, while any other attempt to establish residences or businesses has failed, and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - British Parliament Abolishes the Slave Trade

In the month of March, on the 25th, in 1807, the British Parliament abolished the slave trade. Earlier bills had failed, but a new effort was put forth in 1806 with the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill. The Bill would prevent the import of slaves by British traders into territories belonging to foreign powers and was introduced by the Attorney-General, Sir Arthur Leary Piggott. The Bill passed Parliament on March 23, 1806 and was sent to the House of Lords. Lord Grenville, who was the Prime Minister, read the bill making it official policy. After a second reading, it was agreed to 100 votes to 34. The Bill them moved to the House of Commons. Wilburforce, who was an abolitionist that had fought to end the slave trade for 18 years, received a standing ovation during the debate over the Bill. That debate lasted ten hours and the House voted in favor of the Bill by 283 votes to 16. The Bill received Royal Assent on March 25th and the slave trade was finished forever for Britain.

Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (Suggested by listener Kate Wilker)

The city of Lakewood is a suburb of Denver, Colorado. There was never a traditional downtown in the city, but there was a central business area along Colfax Avenue and it became home to the
Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, which treated patients suffering from tuberculosis. When TB was no longer a threat, the property was opened as the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. The college offers a curriculum in animation, photography, graphic design, fine arts and fashion design, but it also offers something else: ghosts. There have been many reports of supernatural activity on the campus and one of the people who has experienced that is our listener Kate Wilker, who suggested this location. Join us as we explore the history and hauntings of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design!

The town of Lakewood was platted on July 1st, 1889, by Charles Welch and W.A.H. Loveland. Loveland was the president of the Colorado Central Railroad and he was ready to retire. He wanted to find a new area to build his estate and chose a spot in an area west of Denver along Colfax Avenue. Soon Lakewood became a place where the rich would build their summer estates. An electric tramway arrived in 1893 and spurred the development of Lakewood by connecting it with Denver and Golden. This was called "The Loop." The late 1800s would see a large influx of Jews and they would soon need a place to take care of their numbers that contracted tuberculosis.

Eastern European Jews had started arriving in Denver in 1870 and they were followed in the 1880s by Russian Jews. Russia was a place of discrimination and economic hardship at that time and they saw new opportunities in America. They referred to America as the Goldineh Medinah, which is “Golden Land” in Yiddish. The west promised even more possibilites and they headed for Colorado with most of them settling in a west-side immigrant enclave along the Platte River. They worked as shopkeepers and peddlers and founded the first synagogue on West Colfax. Denver's Newsies were mostly young Jewish kids and they would hawk the papers on street corners.West Colfax was soon almost exclusive Jewish businesses and so was very similar to New York's Lower East Side although Dr. Maurice Fishberg, head physician for the United Hebrew Charities of New York asserted in 1904 that "the homes of the poor living here [in Denver’s West Colfax area] are as a rule tidy and clean, nothing like the overcrowding seen in Jewish quarters in New York or Chicago. The environment here looks more like that of the average small western town, than like a Jewish district of Europe."

At this time in the early 1900s, the West Colfax Jewish neighborhood experienced an influx of Jews who were sick with tuberculosis. TB was the leading cause of death in the United States at that time and people from all walks of life moved to Colorado, with the hope that the dry climate would heal their lungs. Colorado would come to be known as "The World’s Sanatorium." No public sanatoriums existed at the time and so private organizations built institutions. The Jewish community founded National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives', in 1899. All patients were treated free of charge at the hospital. Its motto was "None May Enter Who Can Pay, None Can Pay Who Enter." The drawback with National Jewish was that it only treated early stage TB and it did not have a kosher kitchen. So a group of Jewish working class immigrants in the West Colfax neighborhood banded together in 1903 and formed the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society or JCRS. This sanatorium would treat patients in all stages of the disease. The hospital was built on the future home of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

Many prominent Jewish east European physicians joined the society. The most important of these men was Dr. Charles Spivak. He was born in Russia Ukraine and emigrated to America where he worked in factories early on. He eventually went to medical school, specializing in gastroenterology. He and his wife moved to Denver for her health and one of his first major contributions to the medical community was to form a medical library of sorts. He devised a procedure called the “Union Catalogue Plan.” This listed where all the medical books in Denver were and when they were available for research. He joined the JCRS when it opened in 1904 and became its number one advocate. There were initially seven patients and they were housed in white wooden tent-cottages so they would have plenty of fresh air. The JCRS's motto was “He Who Saves One Life Saves the World.” Ten thousand patients would seek care at the JCRS over the following fifty years and none of them were charged. In 1954, the institution changed its mission to cancer research, becoming the American Medical Center.

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, or RMCAD, was founded in 1963 by Philip J. Steele, an artist and teacher. The college relocated several times to keep up with its growing student population. In 2003, the college moved to the larger 23 acre campus in Lakewood and uses several buildings from the sanatorium days. Full Sail University purchased a controlling share of the college from the Steele family in 2010 and moved most liberal arts courses on line. The RMCAD campus has been designated as a National Historic District and has 17 structures on the property. Because of its past as a place where many people came to die, it seems that some of that past energy has remained today and students and staff have reported many strange occurrences through the years. Our listener Kate Wilker is a student at the college and she joins us to share stories about these experiences.

Kate wrote, "This past October I took a ghost tour at the school, which is full of history. It was originally a campus for people to live with terminal tuberculosis. The campus has a large hospital complete with underground tunnels and even a murder that occurred due to unrequited love between a nurse and patient. Many of the maintenance workers and long time staffers have stories of ghosts and paranormal viewings."

So many sanatoriums around the world have reports of unexplained activity and ghost stories. Do those who once died or worked at the sanatorium still hang around in the afterlife? Is the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design haunted? That is for you to decide!

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