Westminster: The First 100 Years—Cultivating a Colorado Community

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Westminster: The First 100 Years—Cultivating a Colorado Community
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Westminster: The First 100 Years—Cultivating a Colorado Community
Lewis, Rosemary
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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Westminster: The First 100 YearsCultivating a Colorado Community | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:44:00 AM] Home Westminster: The First 100 YearsCultivating a Colorado CommunityWestminster: The First 100 YearsCultivating a Colorado CommunitySubmitted by jainlayconley on 3-4-2011 10:07 AMAuthor: Kimberly Field and Kelly Kordes Anton Publishing: Foreword by Dr. Thomas J. Noel. Introduction by Margaret Coel. Westminster, CO: Westminster Centennial Committee, 2010. Color photos, bibliography, index. 184 pages. 9 x 13. $39.95 paperback. Reviewer: Rosemary Lewis Since the postCivil War years, communities have found it in their best interests to publicize not only their unique history, but also to document the ways and means of growth through the actions of individuals in achieving a flourishing, modern city. Westminster: The First 100 Years certainly fits into this historical genre, providing a generally positive interpretation of events leading to the present-day, developmentdriven, never-say-die city. Westminster has worked hard to establish an identity, hampered by the fact of not having a strong historic commercial core. Instead, it formed out of a dispersed, agriculture-based collection of settlements along stage stops and railroad depots such as DeSpain Junction, Semper, and Harris. Its greatest early attributes were the vast orchards, farms, and ranches of families such as the Churches, Shoenbergs, and Bowleses whose names live on within the present-day boundaries of Westminster proper. Once incorporated in 1911, it christened itself Westminster for the most prominent landmark in the area, the 1907 castle on the hill at Westminster University (later the Pillar of Fire Church), which was, interestingly, never part of the incorporated city itself. Not until after World War II, with the suburban boom across the country, did the population of Westminster top 1,000 souls. While spurning Denvers attempts at annexation, Westminster instead launched its own aggressive annexation program that extended its boundaries far to the north and west. The explosive growth swallowed whole the bucolic landscape that had attracted so many of the veterans to the area in the first place. Along with unprecedented development of the old ranches, the ever-present question of obtaining water to serve these very same new residents always lurked in the shadows, ready to derail progress at a moments notice. The fight for Standley Lake in many ways exemplified the take-no-prisoners Westminster drive for growth. The city fought for control of the water rights feeding into the reservoir and executed a series of weekend annexations to gain physical control of the reservoir itself. Understanding this fundamental characteristic, Westminsters singular pursuit in positioning itself as a premier twenty-first century community directly informs the scope and tone of Fields and Antons book. Developed with overlapping presentations consisting of biographical portraits of leading citizens, sidebars with stand-alone feature articles, many photographs (the majority of them current) with extensive captions, and a main narrative meant to tie the whole together, the overall impact on the reader is at first overwhelming, resulting in a great deal of flipping pages back and forth. Inevitably, some stories are repeated between the captions, profiles, and the narrative. The book is chronologically based, covering 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 AmericanThe Ute people have lived in Colorado longer than anyone else.


Westminster: The First 100 YearsCultivating a Colorado Community | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 11:44:00 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us many of the facets of a community, from fire protection to tree planting, in each segment. This has the disadvantage of breaking up some of the multi-generational storylines, such as that of the Church Ranch, or the rise-and-fall of the Westminster Mall. Historically speaking, there are a few bumps in the road, some editorial glitches, and some substantial questions left unanswered. In the effort to stop Denvers annexation of surrounding counties, the authors refer to the FAIR Amendment as eventually bringing Denver to heel (75), but not the well-known Poundstone Amendment of 1974. While briefly acknowledging some of the darker chapters in history, such as the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, the authors tend to gloss over these issues. There is also slight acknowledgment of any ethnic or religious diversity. Finally, a map would have helped, perhaps showing the major arterials, significant historical locations, and the progress of annexation to the citys current boundaries. The virtues of Westminster: The First 100 Years however, do make this a valuable asset in the general understanding of the development of the Colorado Front Range urban corridor. It succeeds in its primary goal of telling the optimistic story of a quintessential American hometown and evoking the pleasures, and challenges, of growing up along with the city. Politicians and professional managers dominate the profiles of leading citizens, but teachers, librarians, writers, and business people are also represented. The interviews may well provide the most lasting contribution of this history, as current voices reflecting on the state of the city. Contemporary photographs of its historic and not-so-historic structures, mountain vistas, and extensive public art provide a snapshot of the present for the future when, in another fifty years, Westminster celebrates its sesquicentennial. Reviewer Info: Rosemary Lewis is an independent consultant in historical and environmental research. A graduate of University of Colorado Denvers public history MA program, she is the author of two articles in Colorado Heritage magazine. She is currently chair of the Jefferson County Historical Commission. Add new comment