Union Printers Home Origins
Originally dedicated on May 12, 1892 to house only 30 residents, the Union Printers’ Home began as a convalescent home for members of the International Typographical Union (ITU). The Home was created as a place of rest and healing for Typographical Union members who suffered from health issues related to printing working conditions. The property started with a gift of 80 acres from the City of Colorado Springs, and the institution eventually grew into a large, self-sustaining entity of more than 300 acres that could house nearly 500 residents and was a world-renowned monument to health & wellness and to printing and graphic design.
The Castle on the Hill
The first building on the property was the “Castle on the Hill,” the famous large building that can be seen from Union Boulevard through its iconic archway. It was originally less than half its current size, but numerous additions and renovations over time brought it to its current size of more than 100,000 square feet. The other three buildings still existing on the property were added in the 1930s: a heating and laundry building to the east of the Castle, the north Dormitory, and the south Sanatorium/Hospital, which create a “quad” courtyard bounded by these four buildings. A number of other structures and uses such as a hospital, nurses’ quarters, greenhouses and livestock, and superintendent’s home, previously stood on the property.
With the decline of the printing trade and less funding from the Typographical Union dues, sections of the land had to be sold off to fund the ongoing interest, and several buildings were shut down and used for storage in the 1970s and 1980s. The Home was eventually opened to residents who were not members of the Typographical Union, and in 2014 the property was sold to a large private nursing home organization. It closed permanently as a nursing facility in 2020.
In 2021 the property was purchased by a small group of passionate Colorado Springs investors to preserve the buildings and creatively adapt the property into something new. When the current ownership group purchased UPH, they understood its local significance and the importance of honoring the historical significance. They also came to realize the depth of the history and the impact it had on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people locally and nationally – and how much of that history remained on the property in the form of artifacts and archival documents.
Its History Unfolds
As the buildings were cleaned out from various states of disrepair, the rich story of this beautifully unique, and historically significant property began to fully unfold. Thousands of items, including photographs, boxes of correspondence, films, books, publications and newsletters, medallions, sculptures, furniture and much more, began to surface. The preservation and archival team is only now beginning to see the detail and depth there is to this story. They will continue to piece together the rich and fascinating history and unfold the full picture for everyone’s enjoyment and education.
Adaptive Reuse for the Community
In its early days, UPH was an important community asset in El Paso County, but became more and more closed off to the public as the facility declined. Most people, even long-time locals of Colorado Springs, do not know what this property was or the significant impact that it had on this community and beyond. The adaptive reuse of the property that is planned will once again make it a community asset that is open to the public and sought out by visitors world-wide. The Home has touched thousands of lives since its dedication 130 years ago, and now it will continue to do so in a new and exciting way.