History of the Friends Organization

Friends of the MuseumThe Friends of the Museum is a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization that supports the Heritage Center by raising funds for educational programs, conservation and preservation projects for the museum. It was formed in 2004 as the successor to the DeWeese Rudd Museum Group, which had been created in 1993 to manage the museum after separating from the Fine Arts Council and Center for the Arts. Due to limited funding options, the group turned over operational responsibility of the Museum and History Center to the City of Cañon City and the Friends of the Museum and History Center was established as support organization.

The New board began fund-raising efforts for exhibits and events that the museum staff identify as needing support. The creation of a Newsletter, a Website and other public access to museum events followed.

Projects Supported By Friends

Bison Restoration:  restoration of four Bison in the Amick Gallery Diorama that were in very delicate condition and deteriorating fast. This important project was completed in 2010 and funded with donations and dues. The Bison are now in excellent condition and an important part of the Amick Gallery exhibits.

– Preservation of Photograph Collections
– Digitization of the Holy Cross Abbey Film Collection
– Refreshments and other support for exhibit openings and special programs

The Heritage Center’s exhibit galleries, program room and research room are located in the former Cañon City Municipal Building, built in 1927 with the help of local businessman Dall DeWeese. He helped to acquire funding for the construction of the building with the condition that the second floor of the building would always be a museum. He also stipulated that the building be fire proof with concrete floors and sturdy walls to hold large taxidermy mounts. DeWeese even designed the fireplace on the second floor that incorporates dinosaur fossils, petrified wood, minerals and a part of a stalactite. The first artifacts displayed in the museum were of course items collected and donated by Dall DeWeese.

Denver architect Eugene Groves designed the building. He also was the architect of the former Cañon City High School (now the Middle School), the Administration Building at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado, among others. The Municipal Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Properties.

Other buildings on the site

The wood cabin of early Cañon City settler Anson Rudd is located just behind the Municipal Building. The cabin was built around 1860 and housed Anson Rudd and his wife Harriet who arrived in 1859. Mr. Rudd was a blacksmith by trade. He served as Post Master and was the first Sheriff of Fremont County. He also became County Commissioner and the first Warden of the Territorial Penitentiary. Anson and Harriet had a son Anson Jr. in 1861. They were among only a few people who remained in Cañon City during the Civil War period.

The Rudd house, built in 1881, served as a retirement home for Anson and Harriet. It was an improvement from their cabin next door which the lived in for over twenty years before building this two-story stone house. The house originally had a daylight basement and a porch across the back of the house overlooking the Arkansas River.

Anson and Harriet occupied the house until they moved to Boulder to live with their son in 1904. The house was rented out and served as a boarding house. In 1918, the property was given to the City of Cañon City with the condition that the cabin be restored. The house became the residence of the Municipal Building Engineer until 1975 and has undergone many changes since the Rudd’s lived there.

The City of Cañon City is working on restoring the house and hopes to have it open to the public in the future. Both the Rudd Cabin and the Rudd House are listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Places.


Since September, 2014, the Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center has been a federal repository for fossils collected on public lands in Fremont County. Fossilized dinosaur remains have been found in the Cañon City area since 1877. Historically, fossils found in the Garden Park Fossil Area have gone to the Smithsonian Institute, the Peabody Museum at Yale University, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Cleveland Museum. The agreement with the U. S. Bureau of Land Management allows fossils to remain here, close to their original home. The Museum has an extensive display.