Most people in the metro area are at least a little familiar with historic sites like the Molly Brown House in Capitol Hill and the Brown Palace in downtown Denver.
But there’s undoubtedly some who will not recognize the Rosedale House or the Wellshire Inn.
The Wellshire Inn — located in the Wellshire neighborhood — was built in the 1920s as a golf club house. The Tudor building has since become an event center.
“The size and architectural style are uncommon in Denver. The building is distinctive and a landmark, sitting up high above the golf course,” said Kendra Black, Denver councilmember for District 4. “The story should be told and the building and course should be preserved.”
Historic Denver wants people to know more stories like these, and that’s the aim of the new 50 Actions for 50 Places campaign. The project was launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the organization.
“We wanted to try to recapture the original grassroots spirit that led us to preserve places that are important,” said Annie Levinsky, Historic Denver’s executive director. “At the time, we had one of the largest memberships in the country and we want to get back to that. People often think preservation is something older people do, but it really is multi-generational.”
The list of 50 places was gathered through a months-long campaign that solicited the Denver community for places and spaces that deserve to have their story told and memorialized in the coming years. Historic Denver received more than 100 nominations and selected options that recognize the full diversity of the city. The resulting list includes arts and entertainment sites, civic assets, cultural landmarks and homes.
One such home is located at 780 Steel St. in the Congress Park neighborhood, which was the residence of Judge Raymond Jones, who was the first African American appellate judge in Colorado. According to information provided by Travis Leiker, president and executive director of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods, Jones attended Harvard, was a judge for 32 years and is a member of the Colorado Black Hall of Fame.
“All too often, the stories of historically marginalized populations go untold and unrecognized. We discovered the same was true for Judge Raymond Jones,” Leiker said. “This property, and the story of Judge Jones, represent one’s perseverance, defiance against all odds, and should be a fixture in our community today and for our posterity.”
Some of the places readily welcome visitors, while others are great for walk by to appreciate the design and its history, like the Rosedale House, 2199 S. Bannock St.
The Rosedale House is one of the few remaining homes that were part of the town of Rosedale, which is now part of the Overland neighborhood — not to be confused with the neighboring Rosedale neighborhood, which is just east of Overland. The modest Queen Anne home was part of the first development built by George Timerman in 1887.
People need to know that street names and towns change over the course of 100 years, said Karen Jackson, owner of the home and nominator.
“The original Rosedale is now Overland and was probably beautiful for decades. Over the years, many homes fell in disrepair, but I always knew it was a diamond in the rough,” Jackson said. “I feel like the home picked me and I’m the caretaker chosen to save the home and its history.”
The actions that will be embarked upon are as varied as the sites themselves, Levinsky said. Some will require research about their history; others, technical assistance; and some, recognition through state or national programs.
“We’ll be working with the property owners and community members who nominated the sites to develop a plan,” Levinsky said. “We’ve raised $50,000 for the campaign, and residents can get involved by donating to our organization or a specific project.”
Even if you’re not comfortable going out and about to see the sites in person, Historic Denver has you covered — on its website, you can virtually visit all the locations and learn something about them.
“Preservation has a reputation for being reactive, but we want to get ahead of things and support these places and the people who take care of them,” Levinsky said. “Seeing these places is a great way to get to know the city.”
Bringing these spaces and places more attention is what the campaign is really about, and if people can become more appreciative of what is around them, so much the better.
“The home of Dr. Charles Blackwood, the first Black graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was recently demolished,” Leiker said. The home was located in Denver’s Whittier neighborhood. “This is a reminder that unless we focus our efforts on preserving the buildings and the stories that go with them, our city will lose out on its unique heritage.”