It is hard to believe that the corner of 11th Ave. and 12th St. was once home to a school. The current occupant of the corner, Greeley Fire Station 1, was built in 2016 and opened in 2017, which replaced a former Safeway building. The Safeway building replaced the Horace Mann School in 1955 after being sold to the company in 1954. Built around 1931, the Horace Mann School originally replaced the South Ward School.
During World War II the school held Italian prisoners of war who worked on farms around Greeley. According to an article in The Greeley Tribune, the prisoners of war “appeared to be happy there and on many evenings they would burst into song in true Italian tradition.” Though they seemed to enjoy themselves, the people of Greeley were upset with their proximity to downtown because, according to one account, “the prisoners used to hang out of the 2nd story windows and yell at passersby – in Italian, of course, and most people understood none of what was said.”
This worry was well-founded. On the night of the Italian surrender to the Allies in 1943, a large scale riot broke out between the Italian prisoners, causing Army guards to intervene and break up the riot. Shortly thereafter, the Italian prisoners were moved, and the building served a variety of other functions until it was sold in 1954.
Originally published in the Greeley Tribune on July 6, 2015
Written by Katalyn Lutkin, Collections Assistant