In 2014, two Aberdeen neighbors, Barbara Hegarty and Corinne Koehler, started talking about how to restore the entrance to City Park. After discussing the project with the Parks Department staff and the late George Williams to explore the history of the Gates, they decided it was worth restoring. The project expanded beyond replacing the missing griffins to include replacing the two missing urns, repainting the original urns, adding gates, removing boulders in the median, planting attractive perennials and removing and replacing old streetlights with historic-looking streetlights.
The originals griffins were created in Italy around 1904 and installed shortly thereafter at the entrance to City Park. Over the years, one disappeared and the other one was badly damaged. City Park, in 1889, was originally designed as a private development for homes with winding roads, sculptures and fountains by Charles Dittmer and James Carlile. Unfortunately, they ran into financial troubles and the property was sold to the City of Pueblo for $175,000 in 1905. Dittmer was retained to work with the city to create the park. He helped design and install the entrance. Dittmer also designed the new park and planted a wide variety of trees from around the world.
The base for the entrance is made of pink granite from the Texas Creek area. The Gates originally included a statue of Apollo, Flying Mercury, two griffins and eight urns. The Apollo and Flying Mercury were removed when the drive was expanded to allow for vehicle traffic. The whereabouts of these two sculptures is not known. Six original urns remained on the bases but two went missing.
The griffins and the two urns were replicated by renowned sculptor Huberto Maestas, of San Luis. Maestas had a major setback with his studio being destroyed in a fire in December of 2018. The copies are made of bronze while the originals were made of pot metal.
This project could not have happened without support of the Parks Department staff, major donations from the Bob and Doris Johnston Foundation and Margaret Paige Foundation, the generosity of Bill and Eileen Arnot and Black Hills Energy in replacing the old wooden light poles and donations from dozens of neighbors and other lovers of City Park.
The griffins and urns were installed on June 26, 2020, followed by a dedication and celebration with the donors of the restoration of City Park Gate.