High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880–1940

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High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880–1940
Series Title:
High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880–1940
Leonard, Stephen J.
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880 | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:52:53 PM] Home High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880 1940Submitted by nwharton on 10-16-2013 01:20 PMAuthor: Melanie Shellenbarger Publishing: Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2012 Reviewer: Stephen J. Leonard Reviewer Affiliation: Metropolitan State University of Denver High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880 offers a pleasant surprise to readers such as myself who may have mistakenly guessed from its title that it might be a celebration of high living in the high country, a coffee-table book full of photos and low on text. Although some mountain mansions such as Greystone on Bear Creek above Evergreen, and the Boettcher familys Lorraine Lodge on Lookout Mountain above Golden, receive their due, the book is far more than a paean to the wealthy and their architects. Rather it is a sophisticated analysis of the significant but often overlooked relationship between people, a few of them rich, but most of middling estate, whose cultural aspirations and hunger for nature prompted them to seek a second home in the mountains. Although Shellenbarger places her study in a broad national context, she focuses it on the region west of Denver described as the citys recreation fan by Arthur Carhart in 1921. There less than half a days automobile ride from the city in or near places such as Pine, Indian Hills, Evergreen, Lincoln Hills, and Estes Park, people from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and states even farther afield built perhaps as many as 5,000 summer homes before 1940. Their small idyllic retreats reflected their desire to escape cities, to return to simpler, less modern, healthy, nature-centered, and perforce more virtuous lives. The proliferation of mountain dwellings had nothing to do with the minerals which lured miners into the Rockies in the nineteenth century. Rather it was prompted by tourist forays into the mountains by rail and increasingly after World War I by automobile. Shellenbarger notes that in the early 1920s, an estimated 600,000 campers were motoring to Colorado annually, an amazing summer influx into a state whose 1920 population was less than a million. A small percentage of them contracted a kind of Rocky Mountain fever and decided to build a cabin, cottage, or summer home (the terms varied) to which they usually gave a name. My own grandmothers was, if I recall correctly, Idle Hours, an inappropriate moniker because of the amount of upkeep it demanded. The great houses such as Genevieve Phippss Greystone bespoke the genius of architects such as Maurice Biscoe and builders such as Jock Spence. Modest second homes, which Shellenbarger calls villas of the vernacular, made without benefit of architects, were influenced by owners desires for rustic designs, by their pocketbooks, and by practical considerations such as the talents of local contractors. Fortunately, owners, rich or not, usually respected natural settings and used local materials thereby sparing the public 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 AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


High Country Summers: The Early Second Homes of Colorado, 1880 | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/7/2015 3:52:53 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us from viewing the ostentatious piles of bad taste that have marred ridgelines, hillsides, and hilltops in recent years. Having set the context and given readers a necessary dollop of architectural savvy in her first three chapters, Shellenbarger devotes the bulk of the book to cabins in and near Rocky Mountain National Park (Chapter 4), second homes in national forests (Chapter 5), the African American community of Lincoln Hills (Chapter 6), and vacation retreats in the foothills near Denver and its Mountain Parks (Chapter 7). The final chapter, Summer People, Summer Lives, aptly illustrates an observation by Winston Churchill quoted early in the book: We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us. Shellenbarger, who teaches architectural history in the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, has mined a mountain of well-known and obscure sources and, unlike some local historians, has gone beyond Colorado to provide a larger national context. The book is crammed with information, but the facts do not overwhelm the reader largely because the author has organized her evidence well and because she writes clearly. She has an architects sensibility and knowledge, without the tendency of some architects to stress the minutiae of mullions and muntins. At the same time, she exhibits an admirable grounding in history which keeps her narrative rooted. Moreover, she goes far beyond mere chronicling by offering a nuanced interpretation of how the second home movement arose and what it meant. I saw no errors of consequence, but I wish that more care had been taken in reproducing most of the photographs. Twenty years ago a book of such excellence and importance would have been favorably noticed in widely circulated newspapers such as The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News and drawn to the attention Colorado history fans across the state by being reviewed in Colorado Heritage itself a font of history, published by the Colorado Historical Society. Now those information channels are gone or sadly diminished. Whether or not scholarly works get noticed will affect whether books such as High Country Summers continue to be produced. Colorado and the Wests Auraria Library website, thanks to the generosity of the Kenneth Kendal King Foundation, still reviews books of merit. However, without wide local publicity for these arduous labors of love, one must wonder if scholars will continue to produce and readers continue to be aware of, buy, and read serious, solid offerings. And without first-class histories and informed audiences, the foundation of the states history will in time crumble. Reviewer Info: Stephen J. Leonard is chairman of the History Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has written extensively on Colorado history. His most recent publication, in collaboration with Carl Abbott and Thomas J. Noel, is Colorado: A History of the Centennial State (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2013, 5th Edition).