Denver’s Park Hill Neighborhood

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Denver’s Park Hill Neighborhood
Series Title:
Denver’s Park Hill Neighborhood
Fieger, Jill
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Denvers Park Hill Neighborhood | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:18:55 AM] Home Denvers Park Hill NeighborhoodDenvers Park Hill NeighborhoodSubmitted by nwharton on 9-27-2011 01:53 PMAuthor: Rebecca C. Dorward Publishing: Acadia Publishing, 2010, 126 pages. Reviewer: Jill Fieger I really wanted to like this book, truly I did. However, I was terribly disappointed. Where to begin? Lets see, the Introduction might be a good and instructive place to start. The author asserts that Baron Manfred von Richthofen was a pal of the colorful and eccentric Baron Allois Gullaume Eugene A. von Winkler, the original developer of Park Hill, and that Baron Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron, had platted and developed the nearby Montclair neighborhood in 1885. Quite a feat even for the skillful, wily, and resourceful Red Baron of World War I aviation fame in light of the fact that he was not yet born. It was not Baron Manfred von Richthofen (1892) but rather, his uncle, Baron Walter von Richthofen (1848), who platted Montclair, built himself a splendid castle there, and was associated with the development of Park Hill. Then the author, in the same introductory passage, offers her readers her curiously truncated assembly of famous Park Hill residents. While Chauncey Billups, Mayor (now Governor) John Hickenlooper (rather a johnny come lately, in my view, since he moved to Park Hill only in 2007), and City Council member Marcia Johnson (in a later chapter) are all reasonably notable past and current residents, the exclusion of so many others is perplexing. Former mayor Federico Pea, former governor Roy Romer, Colorado Supreme Court justice Frank L. Hays, professor and world-renowned anthropologist H. Marie Wormington, Ph.D., Joe Awful Coffee (champion boxer and Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inductee), Denver City Council members Cathy Reynolds, Bill Roberts, and Happy Haynes, Floyd Little (Denver Bronco running back inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame, and the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio), economist Lucy Black Creighton, Ph.D., Rudolfo Corky Gonzales (Chicano civil rights activist), Bernard Gipson, Sr., M.D. (surgeon and African American civil rights activist) and his much-admired late wife, Ernestine Gipson (social worker), Thomas Hayden (Denver Union Water Company president), H. Brown Cannon (Windsor Farm Dairy president, civic activist, and philanthropist), John Savage (chief engineer of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and builder-designer of the Hoover Dam, the Grand Coulee Dam, most of the Tennessee Valley Authority projects, and the Yangtze River flood control efforts in China), Doris Hilton (KOA radio and TV personality and Denver Post advice columnist Jane Sterling), and her newspaper counterpart, Frances Melrose ( Rocky Mountain News advice columnist Molly Mayfield), William Mead (May Company department store CEO) and Nolie Mumey, M.D. (surgeon, historian, author, and renaissance man), all remarkable Park Hill residents, are skipped over entirely. Lest I forget, there is yet another famous Park Hill resident, arguably the neighborhoods most famous, shockingly ignored in the book by the author. Born and raised in Park Hill on Kearney Street, a graduate of East High School and the University of Colorado (where he was a football star), John Leonard Swigert Jr. was known EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWithin Colorado boundaries are lands once claimed by Spanish kings and Mexican governors.


Denvers Park Hill Neighborhood | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:18:55 AM] to family, friends, and the world simply as Jack. Jack Swigert was the Apollo 13 command module pilot and one of only twenty-seven people to have journeyed to the moon. Representative-elect from Colorado, Jack Swigert was also one of the two Coloradans honored with a statue in United States Capitol Statuary Hall as one of the two most notable and significant citizens from the Centennial State. The other is Florence Rena Sabin, M.D. The volume contains a lavish collection of vintage photographs, culled from the authors own collection as well as other private and public collections, and much of the history is conveyed through the captions of these photographs. Unfortunately, many of the captions are misleading or inaccurate, and the selection of the photographs is somewhat incoherent. The authors confusion concerning dairy industry activities in and near Park Hill, for example, is typical of the sorts of problems which plague the entire book. The City Park Dairy (page 50) was neither owned nor operated by the City of Denver as the author suggests. It was a privately owned dairy farm which, when it moved operations and the dairy herd to southeast Denver in 1912, donated the dairys pasture land to the City of Denver which promptly constructed the City Park Golf Course on the site. The photo of the Windsor Farm Dairy Building (page 51) shows the bottling plant and creamery retail outlet in downtown Denver (1855 Blake Street), not the dairy. The Windsor Farm Dairy operated on several sites including that of todays Windsor Gardens Community as well as on the land where Stapleton Airport once stood. Park Hill resident and Windsor Farm Dairy president H. Brown Cannon sold the parcel of dairy pasture which became Denver Municipal Airport, later renamed Stapleton Airport, to the City of Denver, creating quite an uproar because of his close personal friendship with Mayor Ben Stapleton. The author does not include any of this information despite the fact she devoted an entire chapter to the history of transportation into, out of, around, and above Park Hill. The other dairy photograph, also on page 51, purports to be a view of the barn of the Montclair Dairy, supposedly owned and operated by Baron Manfred von Richthofen, which the author further misidentifies as being the current Montclair Community Center. Beyond the authors ongoing confusion concerning Baron Manfred von Richthofen rather than Baron Walter von Richthofen, the photograph does not even remotely appear to be an image of the Barons Molkerei, a glorious rhyolite and clapboard building. The Molkerei (milkhouse), which actually does serve as the Montclair Community Center and Civic Building and which can be visited and toured today, was built as a TB spa and sanitarium by Baron Walter von Richthofen, who promoted cures for the tubercular patients who vacationed and recovered there by drinking fresh milk (the Brown Swiss Cow milk cure), warming in the sunshine, and breathing deeply of barnyard-perfumed air on the screened-in sleeping porches above the first floor of the Brown Swiss Cow hotel. The baron certainly did not house his paying medical and TB spa guests in the virtually windowless gloomy wooden barn featured in the photograph. Dorward authored the successful nomination of a part of the historic Park Hill neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places. That is a remarkable accomplishment. This slim volume is not. A cool-eyed, serious fact-checking editor might have saved this book. Unfortunately, none came along. The danger of such an unedited and incoherent history is the possible reliance upon its inaccuracies as historical fact by students and others looking for insight into this truly amazing Denver neighborhood, where shade trees out number its residents, and the residents loyal devotion to Park Hill is legendary. Reviewer Info: Jill Fieger is a Park Hill native and third-generation Coloradan. She is a graduate of Colorado Womens College and holds advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Denver. A retired medical social worker, she resides with her husband in their landmark Park Hill home.