PROTECTING LAND, PRESERVING HISTORY:
JEFFERSON COUNTY OPEN SPACE AND ITS HISTORIC PROPERTIES
Heather H. Thorwald
B. S.. University of Colorado at Boulder, 1994
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Heather H. Thorwald
has been approved
Thorwald, Heather H. (M.A., History)
Protecting Land, Preserving History: Jefferson County Open Space and Its Historic
Thesis directed by Professor Mark S. Foster
In the 1960s and 1970s, commentators and community activists gave
increasing attention to the effects of suburban sprawl on the American landscape.
Environmentalists sought to save land from development through open space
preservation, while historic preservationists worked to protect human-made remnants
of rural and small-town life. Sharing a perception of sprawl as a destructive force,
these constituencies at times worked together. However, a common enemy does not
necessarily mean common goals. An analysis of the benefits and the tensions of
cooperation between open space and historic preservation is highly relevant today, as
increasing emphasis on protecting cultural landscapes brings these constituencies into
This thesis presents a case study of historic preservation in cooperation with
open space conservation in Jefferson County, Colorado, a suburban county west of
Denver. The Jefferson County Open Space program set a precedent of preserving
historic structures in 1974 with the purchase of the Hiwan Homestead in Evergreen.
However, the programs stronger emphasis on land acquisition in the late 1980s put
the future of its historic preservation mission in jeopardy. The ongoing efforts at
resolution of this conflict provide an instructive example of the challenges of
integrating an historic preservation ethic into a philosophy of environmental
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend
Mark S. Foster
I dedicate this thesis to my husband, Greg, for his wise counsel and unflagging
For their patient assistance, I thank the staff of Jefferson County Open Space,
particularly Charlie Hudson, Cindy Bossman, and Dennis Faulkner; the staff and
volunteers at Hiwan Homestead Museum, led by John Steinle; and past and present
directors of the Boettcher Mansion, Susan Becker and Cynthia Shaw McLaughlin.
My thanks also go to Connie Fahnestock, former director of the Hiwan Homestead
Museum, who shared not only her memories but also a home-cooked chili dinner with
Finally, I thank my advisors, Mark Foster, Pam Laird, and Tom Noel, for their insight
2. CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION, AND SPRAWL:
ISSUES IN A NATIONAL CONTEXT.........................10
Sprawling Suburbs, Decaying Cities: The Backlash..21
Anti-Sprawl Movements in the Suburbs..............28
3. SAVING HIWAN HOMESTEAD..............................39
Camp Neosho and Hiwan Homestead...................55
Hiwan Homestead and Jefferson County Open Space...63
Setting a Precedent...............................74
4. DEFINING OPEN SPACE IN JEFFERSON COUNTY.............82
Adaptive Reuse of Boettcher Mansion...............86
A. LIST OF ACRONYMS AND INITIALIZATIONS...............138
B. JEFFERSON COUNTY OPEN SPACE TAX
VOTE TALLIES BY PRECINCT............................139
C. SELECTED TEXT FROM JEFFERSON COUNTY OPEN SPACE
SALES TAX RESOLUTION.........................144
All but lost in the battles of environmental politics is a subtle, but
ultimately more important, intellectual dissonance among
professionals whose conservation and preservation values emphasize
natural resources versus those whose values emphasize human-made
Rebecca Conard, The Public Historian (Spring 2001)
In the spring of 2001, The Public Historian published a special issue entitled
Junk It, or Junket? Tourism and Historic Preservation in the Postindustrial World.
The issue explored the intriguing question of whether industrial landscapes should be
preserved for their historical value or cleaned up to mitigate their environmental
problems.2 While scenarios pitting the Environmental Protection Agency against
state historic preservation officers put such questions into stark contrast, the issues
raised by The Public Historian contributors have subtler implications. As Rebecca
Conard writes, the philosophical and practical gaps between the bios and the
'Rebecca Conard, Applied Environmentalism, or Reconciliation Among the
Bios and the Culturals, The Public Historian 23 (Spring 2001): 9.
2See, for example, Donald L. Hardestys discussion of western U.S. mining
landscapes in Issues in Preserving Toxic Wastes as Heritage Sites, The Public
Historian 23 (Spring 2001): 19-28.
culturals have left both constituencies vulnerable to the unceasing pressures of land
Until this issue of The Public Historian, literature on the relationship between
environmental conservation and historic preservation in the United States had proven
spotty at best. Such a scarcity is surprising, since this subject merits further
exploration. Both the environmental and historic preservation movements matured in
parallel in this country, moving from their germination in the mid- to late 1800s to
concurrent legislative triumphs of the 1960s and early 1970s. In some cases most
notably within the mission of the National Park Service preservation encompassed
both natural and cultural resources. By the 1990s, the National Trust for Historic
Preservation was trumpeting a new era of collaboration, fostered by a growing
recognition that conservation and preservation are natural allies, fighting a common
enemy. As the authors of a National Trust information bulletin argued, Wetlands,
forests, farmlands, historic buildings, and archaeological sites are all being eroded by
the same forces of sprawl and development.4
3Conard, Applied Environmentalism, pp. 14-15. Conard credits Jannelle
Warren-Findley with coining the terms bios and culturals to describe
environmentalists and historic preservationists; see Conard, p. 10, Note 1.
4Edward T. McMahon and A. Elizabeth Watson, In Search of Collaboration:
Historic Preservation and the Environmental Movement, Information Series No. 71
(Washington, D.C.: Preservation Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation,
1992), p. 1.
The National Trust bulletin acknowledged that disciplinary barriers exist
between environmentalists and historic preservationists.5 Conard, too, argues that
cooperation suffers from professional specialization and institutional segregation.6
Yet the divisions go deeper than professional and academic compartmentalization.
Both movements were created and are motivated by deep principles: historic
preservation primarily by humanistic ones, environmentalism by ecological ones.
Laura A. Watt, Leigh Raymond, and Meryl L. Eschen sum up this divide in a 2004
Environmental History article:
The intellectual roots of the two preservation movements are quite
distinct, despite their overlapping motivations regarding national
heritage. Ecological preservation in the United States is substantially
based in the ideas of John Muir and other romantics, including the idea
of a sublime wilderness and the need to exclude people from pristine
nature. Historic preservation, with its efforts to protect human history
and culture, directly conflicts with this line of thought about ecological
In other words, humans are central characters in one groups narrative and interlopers
(or often antagonists) in the others.
5McMahon and Watson, In Search, p. 7.
6Conard, Applied Environmentalism, p. 14.
7Laura A. Watt, Leigh Raymond, and Meryl L. Eschen, Reflections on
Preserving Ecological and Cultural Landscapes, Environmental History 9 (October
2004): 639. The article compares the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to the
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
The historiography of both movements reflects this philosophical dissonance.
Roderick Nashs history of the environmental movement in the United States,
Wilderness and the American Mind, does not deal directly with issues of historic
preservation. However, Nash does give a powerful account of a central split in the
environmental movement over human agency and natural processes.8 The wise use
faction, typified by forester Gifford Pinchot, advocated for conservation as a form of
resource management, while the followers of Sierra Club founder Muir advocated for
nature unaltered by man.9 The crux of the argument centered on whether nature
existed for the use of humans or had value for its own sake again, the central
disagreement over the role of humans in natures narrative.
Historians of the historic preservation movement have also noted a lack of
integration between the preservation of human and natural environments. William J.
Murtagh, in his history Keeping Time, observes, Unlike England, whose
organizational concern for the natural environment has been accompanied by a
concern for the built environment, America has tended to keep her interests in natural
8Of course, humans as animals are part of natural processes, but for
purposes of this discussion, I (and many of my sources) use natural as distinct from
Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed. (New
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 129. Nash discusses the falling out
between Pinchot and Muir in great detail in this chapter.
conservation distinct from those of preservation.10 Murtagh argues that late-
twentieth-century preservationists have learned to think beyond individual structures
to whole districts and neighborhoods, but their interest in the natural environment has
been slower to form.11
Yet despite their differences, the environmental and historic preservation
movements still share much in common, from their use of similar legal tools such as
easements to their advocacy for recycling (be it newspapers or buildings).12 Above
all, both movements swim against the tide of American consumer culture, which
values immediate gratification with new, cheap, disposable material goods. Setting
aside landscapes in perpetuity or restoring buildings of a past era seems distinctly out
of step with much of the rest of our society. Clearly, a case study of a cooperative
effort between environmentalists and historic preservationists would be useful in
determining the benefits and challenges of uniting these goals.
10 William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of
Preservation in America, 2d ed. (New York: Preservation Press, 1997), p. 51.
Murtagh was the first keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.
nMurtagh, Keeping Time, pp. 62-77. Murtagh characterizes the National
Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as environmental legislation, concerned with what
one might call the cultural ecology of Americas built environment. See Murtagh,
Keeping Time, p. 68.
12McMahon and Watson, In Search, pp. 2-3; Samuel N. Stokes, A. Elizabeth
Watson, and Shelley S. Mastran, Saving Americas Countryside: A Guide to Rural
Conservation, 2d ed. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), p. 3.
The location for such a study could be anywhere historic buildings and fragile
environments coexist. Yet one category of landscape in particular offers an
interesting mix of development pressures and disappearing natural and cultural
heritage: American suburbia. The recent work of Adam Rome has opened up,the
field of suburban history for environmental study. Romes The Bulldozer in the
Countryside describes the ecological devastation wrought by post-World War II tract-
house building practices, from hillside terracing to inadequate septic systems, and by
the energy-consuming lifestyles suburban living has promoted.13 Bulldozer adds a
new environmental dimension to the already rich and expanding historiography of
A key argument of Romes book is that the destruction of nature experienced
firsthand by suburbanites motivated them to join the environmental movement of the
13Adam Rome, The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the
Rise of American Environmentalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001),
14See, for example, Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of
Suburbia (New York: Basic Books, 1987), pp. 200-201; Dolores Hayden, Building
Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000 (New York: Pantheon
Books, 2003), pp. 146-151; Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The
Suburbanization of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985),
pp. 243-245; John R. Stilgoe, Borderland: Origins of the American Suburb, 1820-
1939 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 2-5; Gwendolyn Wright,
Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America (Cambridge: MIT
Press, 1981), pp. 256-257. For a more comprehensive bibliography of suburban
historiography, see David E. Kyvig and Myron A. Marty, Nearby History: Exploring
the Past Around You, 2d ed. (Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 2000), p. 231.
1960s. One chapter of The Bulldozer in the Countryside explores efforts by suburban
residents to preserve open spaces in urban fringe areas.15 This open space movement
gained momentum throughout the 1960s, just as historic preservation was finding
new attention on a national stage through the National Register of Historic Places.
On the suburban frontier, both open space advocates and preservationists fought in a
crisis atmosphere of ever-expanding suburban sprawl. This period and place -
American suburbia in the late 1960s and early 1970s presented an ideal testing
ground for cooperation among environmentalists and historic preservationists.
Open space advocates found some of their earliest successes in communities
along Colorados Front Range. Pushed by the postwar expansion of the Denver
metropolitan area, Jefferson County became one of the first jurisdictions in the United
States with a voter-approved sales tax for open space protection. Its residents have
always had a complex relationship with development, the kind of cake-and-eat-it-too
attitude typified by suburbia: a love for the sweeping plains and pine-covered
mountains of the countys natural environment, but also a business-minded drive for
progress. With natural, agricultural, and resort landscapes under threat from
suburban sprawl, Jefferson County in the early 1970s represented just the kind of
battleground that could bring together two preservation movements.
15Romes discussion of the open space movement of the late 1960s, chapter 4
of Bulldozer, appeared in an earlier form in Adam W. Rome, William Whyte, Open
Space, and Environmental Activism, The Geographical Review 88 (April 1988):
Jefferson County is also where I grew up and where I still live. It has always
been an interesting place to call home. Local Evergreen boy and would-be
presidential assassin John Hinckley, Jr.; the Cold War battleground at Rocky Flats;
the horrifying Columbine High School shootings: certain people, places, and events
have made this county internationally infamous. Through these tragedies, Jefferson
County has come to embody suburban dystopia in the public imagination, from
environmental degradation to social alienation. In this thesis, I have not set out to
burnish the tarnished image of my home county, and I have aimed to present its
strengths and weaknesses in equal measure. However, I admit that I take pleasure in
telling a story that demonstrates the civic-mindedness, the love of history, and the
care of the environment exemplified by many Jefferson County residents throughout
In the following chapters, I examine the formation of the open space and
historic preservation movements, how both took shape in Jefferson County, and the
implications of their work together. Chapter 2 lays out the histories of open space
and historic preservation against a national backdrop of post-World War II
suburbanization. I demonstrate how both movements were motivated in part by
concerns about suburban sprawl, and how this common enemy energized supposedly
apathetic suburbanites to community activism. Chapter 3 introduces the story of open
space and historic preservation in Jefferson County. A citizens movement
successfully led the drive to establish a county wide open space sales tax in 1972. I
explore how the inclusion of historic monuments in the open space resolution
added a whole new dimension to the programs mission, one immediately tested by a
call to save the historic Hiwan Homestead house from development.
Rebecca Conards observation that coming together in a crisis is not the same
as working together all the time is particularly apt for Jefferson County Open
Space.16 Chapter 4 moves the story ahead to the mid-1980s, as the Open Space
program experienced an awkward adolescence and struggled with integrating its
missions of open space and historic preservation over the long term. The disputes of
the 1980s centered on the definition of open space, and the questions raised during
this period highlight the competing philosophies of environmental conservation and
historic preservation. Although the crisis passed by 1990, the essential difficulties
remain to this day. My conclusion in Chapter 5 looks at the current approach to
historic preservation by Jefferson County Open Space and the legacy of lessons
learned or not learned from the debates of the 1980s.
16Conard, Applied Environmentalism, p. 12.
CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION, AND SPRAWL:
ISSUES IN A NATIONAL CONTEXT
Suburbia symbolizes the fullest, most unadulterated embodiment of
Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier
Like many cities of the American West, Denver experienced rapid growth on
its fringes following World War II. Growth of Denver's metropolitan area to the west
changed Jefferson County from a landscape of resorts, ranches, and small agrarian
centers to a solidly suburban region. The county offered a home convenient to the
city for work and to the mountains for recreation. Yet as the county attracted more
and more people with these amenities, even recent transplants began to long for the
good old days. In 1972, one couple noted in a letter to the local newspaper that they
had witnessed an extremely rapid population increase in their six years as Jefferson
County residents. They wrote, As development after development replaces natural
open areas, [Jefferson County] becomes a less desirable place to live.18
17Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the
United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 4.
18Mr. and Mrs. David Seeland, Letter to the Editor, Lakewood Sentinel, 2
November 1972, p. 95.
In the 1960s and 1970s, suburbanites throughout the United States echoed
these concerns about the costs of suburban development. Growing activism among
suburban residents built upon longstanding critical and intellectual debate over the
rise of suburbia and the decay of the city. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s,
journalists and sociologists dissected in print the suburbanites new way of life,
examining changes in everything from family structure to political affiliation.19 The
industrialization of middle-class housing transformed Americas physical as well as
cultural landscapes: by 1958, the mass-produced miracle in suburbia had earned the
19Examples of postwar suburban sociology literature include William
Dobriner, ed., The Suburban Community (New York: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1958);
Herbert J. Gans, The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban
Community (New York: Vintage Books, 1967); Albert I. Gordon, Jews in Suburbia
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1959); John R. Seely, R. Alexander Sim, and Elizabeth W.
Loosley, Crestwood Heights: A Study of the Culture of Suburban Life (New York:
Basic Books, 1956); and William H. Whyte, Jr., The Organization Man (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1956), particularly Part VII, The New Suburbia: Organization
Man at Home, pp. 267-392.
epithet urban sprawl.20 The changing form of American cities and the disturbing
consequences that accompanied it inspired activist movements into the 1960s and
1970s. The parallel maturation of the open space movement and the historic
preservation profession during this period demonstrates how each grew to combat
suburban sprawl and how their intertwined roots could lead to fruitful cooperation.
In the popular imagination, the image of suburbia conjures up a sitcom set -
Father Knows Best or The Brady Bunch, depending on the generation. But
American suburbs are not simply creations of postwar consumerism and
automobility; their roots stretch back to the nineteenth century, to the Brooklyn ferry
20William H. Whyte, Jr., Urban Sprawl, Fortune 57 (January 1958): 103-
109. This article and its subsequent reprinting in The Exploding Metropolis brought
urban sprawl into wide usage. However, Whyte should not be credited with
inventing the term, as he is, for example, in Donald C. Williams, Urban Sprawl: A
Reference Handbook (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2000), p. 43. In 1956,
sprawl was a common enough descriptor of suburban growth for Catherine Bauer
to use extensively in Architectural Forum, albeit occasionally in quotation marks; see
Catherine Bauer, First Job: Control New-City Sprawl, Architectural Forum 105
(September 1956): 105-112. Sprawl and related forms of the word emerge as early
as the 1930s in descriptions of Los Angeles and London; see Jeremiah B. Axelrod,
University of California, Irvine, and Volker M. Welter, University of Reading, Re:
Origins of the term Sprawl, in H-urban, , 17 November
2000, archived at , s.v. sprawl axelrod. On London,
see also Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning
and Design in the Twentieth Century, 2d ed., (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd,
1996), p. 82.
commuters of the 1830s and the cultural influence of English suburban villas.21 Each
successive wave of suburbanization was shaped by new forms of transportation.
With each new system railroads, horsecars, electric streetcars more Americans
could afford to live increasingly separated from their workplace, preferably beyond
the crowded conditions of inner cities.22 By the 1920s, the advent of the automobile
made it possible for commuters to live beyond walking distance from transit lines,
opening up even greater areas of land for residential development.23
Despite its long history, suburbia became associated with the post-World War
II period for good reason. Suburbanization accelerated after the war with the
convergence of pent-up consumer demand and sympathetic government policies. The
housing slump of the late 1920s, which endured through the Great Depression and
World War II, had drastically slowed new home construction. Demobilized soldiers,
eager to settle down and expand their families, returned to a mounting housing
shortage, while relocated wartime workers looked to resettle permanently in Sunbelt
21 Jackson, Crab grass Frontier, p. 25; John R. Stilgoe, Borderland: Origins of
the American Suburb, 1820-1939 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988),
For a description of an early U.S. suburb, see Sam B. Warner, Jr., Streetcar
Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900 (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard
University Press and the M.I.T. Press, 1962). Warners book is one of the first and
still most influential historical studies of suburbanization.
Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, p. 181.
cities.24 In the closing months of the war, government estimates painted a dire
scenario: five million new homes were needed to meet immediate demand, with the
need for another 12.5 million forecast for the next decade. The previous record year
for housing starts, 1925, had not even reached one million, and production had long
since dropped precipitately.25 Concerned about the political fallout from dissatisfied
veterans and a potential postwar recession, politicians and business leaders looked for
a solution to the housing shortage.
Postwar conditions brought to a head decades-long debate about the most
appropriate role for the federal government in housing. Architectural historian
Gwendolyn Wright has noted that by 1929 the owner-occupied single-family
detached house in the suburbs was already entrenched as the prevailing ideal,
endorsed by government and business, civic groups and labor unions.26 As Secretary
of Commerce under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, Herbert
24Carl Abbott has written extensively on how the relocation of workers in
defense industries to the western United States led to the massive growth of Sunbelt
cities during and after the war. See The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modem
American West (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1993), pp. 301-321. For
the changes wrought on the Denver metropolitan area, see Carl Abbott, Stephen J.
Leonard, and David McComb, Colorado: A History of the Centennial State, 3d ed.
(Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1994), pp. 301-321.
^Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in
America (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981), p. 242.
26Wright, Building the Dream, p. 199.
Hoover promoted home ownership and private industry as the future of American
housing. Other channels for government support multi-family housing,
cooperatives, rent assistance faded from serious consideration by the end of the
New Deal. To policymakers, the suburban solution seemed the ideal path for young
families to secure housing and to achieve middle-class status as homeowners.27
By 1947, two of the three key elements of this suburban solution were already
in place. First, widespread automobile use had made accessible more land on urban
fringes. With these large tracts of land, builders could apply economies of scale to
subdivision construction. Now that commuters were no longer tied to streetcar lines,
developers could build marketable housing in between transit corridors, or beyond
them.28 Second, government support had made home financing affordable for more
^Wright, Building the Dream, pp. 196-200, 217-219, 257-260. Wright and
others have discussed the contradictory attitudes of Americans toward government
involvement in housing; tax advantages and federal handouts for middle-class
homebuyers carry none of the stigma associated with public assistance for lower-
income renters. Dolores Hayden and Kenneth T. Jackson in particular have detailed
how industry groups such as the National Association of Real Estate Boards and the
National Association of Home Builders lobbied to shape federal housing policy in
favor of new single-family homes, creating a system of federal subsidy for middle-
class housing that far outstripped programs for the poor. See Dolores Hayden,
Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000 (New York:
Pantheon Books, 2003), pp. 128-153, and Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, pp. 190-218.
^Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, pp. 181-186. For a summary of the impact of
the automotive industry and highway programs on suburbia and sprawl, see Hayden,
Building Suburbia, pp. 158-168. Hayden notes that the 1956 Interstate Highway Act
resembled the 1934 Federal Housing Act in subsidizing private enterprise and
buyers. Created in 1934, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured home
mortgages, removing risk and enabling bankers to offer low-interest, long-term
amortizing mortgages with small down payments. The Veterans Administration
mortgage insurance program, created in 1944, even waived the down payment for
veterans. Through the FHA and the VA, the federal government could bolster the
private homebuilding industry without the stigma of socialism or public housing.
By only guaranteeing loans that met their standards, the agencies could also exert
tacit control over housing trends and urban growth. As urban historian Kenneth T.
Jackson has shown, FHA and VA policies favored new, single-family homes of
conservative design in racially homogenous communities the now-familiar form of
The third factor in the suburban solution came with new technologies and
efficiency in the homebuilding industry. With available land and buyers with
financing, postwar homebuilders sought to meet soaring demand through application
of mass production methods. Components for building homes lumber, shingles,
plumbing fixtures had been produced in factories since the 1870s, and mail-order
29Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, pp. 190-218; Wright, Building the Dream, pp.
240-261; Marc Weiss, The Rise of the Community Builders: The American Real
Estate Industry and Urban Land Planning (New York: Columbia University Press,
1987), pp. 141-158; Barry Checkoway, Large Builders, Federal Housing Programs,
and Postwar Suburbanization, in Critical Perspectives on Housing, ed. Rachel G.
Bratt, Chester Hartman, and Ann Meyerson (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,
1986), pp. 127-129.
companies like Sears and Roebuck had promoted house kits around the turn of the
twentieth century.30 Futuristic experiments with prefabricated houses in the 1930s
proved too radical for homebuyer tastes, and they presented considerable financing
and transportation obstacles.31 However, by the 1940s builders realized that instead
of manufacturing and transporting complete houses from factory to the lot, they could
better reap the benefits of mass production by applying assembly-line methods at the
building sites themselves.
To adopt mass-production techniques, builders had to take over every aspect
of the project, from site development to home sales. Some large firms had already
started down that path in the decades before the war, operating as what real estate
historian Marc Weiss calls community builders.32 These companies offered upper-
middle-class homebuyers the stability of a finished home in a planned community, an
attractive option in the midst of the subdivision overspeculation of the 1920s. This
idea of large-scale residential development took hold by the 1930s, particularly
^On components and home kits, see Wright, Building the Dream, pp. 87, 96-
113; Hayden, Building Suburbia, pp. 100-115. Jackson also notes the importance of
balloon frame construction, beginning in the 1840s, in moving homebuilding from
craft to industry; see also Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, pp. 124-128.
31On the prefabrication movement, see Wright, Building the Dream, pp. 244-
246; Brian Horrigan, The Home of Tomorrow, 1927-1945, in Imagining
Tomorrow: History, Technology, and the American Future, ed. Joseph Corn
(Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1986), pp. 137-154.
32Weiss, Community Builders, p. 1.
around Los Angeles, where enormous parcels of ranchland remained intact and
available for sale.
The New Deal and World War II redirected the market for larger
developments toward Americans of more modest means. With the advent of the
FHA, builders could apply for conditional guarantees before beginning construction,
boosting their chances of obtaining financing for speculative projects. During
wartime, emergency orders for defense worker housing gave many builders, such as
Fritz B. Bums and William J. Levitt, experience with meeting federal standards, using
mass-production methods to speed up construction, and producing modest homes in
quantity. By the end of the war, large builders were ready to mobilize to take an
ever-larger share of the housing market: by 1949, 70 percent of new homes in the
United States would be constructed by only 10 percent of the nations builders.33
With new techniques and ready buyers, homebuilders of the postwar period
produced houses in remarkable quantity. For the decade of the 1950s, the United
States saw 15 million housing starts, more than twice that of the 1940s. Suburban
33Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, p. 233. See also Hayden, Building Suburbia,
p. 132; Barry Checkoway, Large Builders, pp. 120-127. On the advent of large
developer-builders in California, see Weiss, Rise of the Community Builders,
especially pp. 41-42, 79. On Levitt, see Barbara M. Kelly, Expanding the American
Dream: Building and Rebuilding Levittown (Albany: State University of New York
Press, 1993), pp. 24-25. On p. 245, note 49, Kelly writes that West Coast builders
like David Bohannon first used the assembly-line techniques that Levitt and Sons
would make famous. On Bums, see Hayden, Building Suburbia, pp. 268-269, note
areas saw the majority of this growth, by 1950 expanding at a rate ten times faster
than central cities.34 Huge tracts of open farmland sprouted acres of houses,
seemingly overnight. A 1950 Time cover story on Levittown, Long Island, described
the scene: Three years ago, little potatoes had sprouted from these fields. Now
there were 10,600 houses inhabited by more than 40,000 people.35 The 3,500-acre
development of Lakewood, California from a field of sugar beets to a city in six
months received similar treatment.36 With these agricultural metaphors, houses for
families seemed simply to be the most recent expression of the productivity of this
farmland. In his 1954 Fortune essay Over California, photographer William
34Adam Rome, The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the
Rise of American Environmentalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001),
p. 35; Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, p. 238.
35Up from the Potato Fields, Time 56 (3 July 1950): 67. Barbara Kelly has
exploded this pastoral myth of Levittown, L.I. Prior to construction, local agricultural
production had declined severely after an infestation of the golden nematode, and the
region had already begun to urbanize (four major aerospace plants were located
within five miles of the new development). Kelly reports that Levittown residents
adopted the pastoral myth, incorporating its bucolic image into their community
history to bolster their sense of being pioneers. See Kelly, Levittown, pp. 150, 154-
36The beet farmers had actually been lessees; the land had been owned entirely
by the Montana Land Company before an $8.8 million deal with the developers. Ray
Day, Lakewood Park: The City They Built in 6 Months, The American City 66
(May 1951): 100. Time also emphasized Lakewoods sugar-beet origins; see Birth
of a City, Time 55 (April 17, 1950): 99-100, and Potato Fields, p. 68.
Garnett even included an aerial view of the Lakewood site, cleared as if for
cultivation, among other photographs of rice fields and vineyards.37
Suburbs may have seemed to spring up from nowhere, but, as historian Barry
Checkoway argues, there was no magic in the appearance of postwar suburbs.38
Decisions by a handful of politicians and large-scale developers transformed entire
landscapes in a matter of months. As Sam Bass Warner noted in 1962, today a
subdivision of 200 houses requires the decision of a banker and a speculator.39 Such
rapid change attracted curiosity and concern among social commentators as the 1950s
continued. Whether they acknowledged political and economic causes or chalked up
suburban sprawl to unseen forces, these writers and journalists grew increasingly
preoccupied with city form and its social, cultural, and environmental implications.
By the late 1950s, more members of the press began to draw out the darker side of
this seeming triumph of mass production.
37William Garnett, Over California: A Portfolio by William Garnett,
Fortune 49 (March 1954): 105-113. Garnetts photos would later become symbols
of the environmental destruction of suburban sprawl; see Rome, Bulldozer, pp. 1-3.
38Checkoway, Large Builders, p. 120. Historians such as Jackson, Wright,
Hayden, and Rome concur with Checkoways conclusions that a tightly knit
government-corporate relationship drove suburban growth, while Stilgoe and Robert
Fishman place more emphasis on consumer preference driven by pastoralism and
middle-class moral values. Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall
of Suburbia (New York: Basic Books, 1987).
39Wamer, Streetcar Suburbs, p. 124.
Sprawling Suburbs. Decaying Cities: The Backlash
Alas, except for National and State Parks not much of the natural
beauty of this country remains preserved ... However praiseworthy
such conservation efforts may be in helping to protect parts of the
American countryside, they do little to protect those areas in which
most of us live or spend our free time the areas nearest to cities and
suburbs. As for the preservation of man-made improvements, this is
almost non-existent.. .40
Peter Blake, Gods Own Junkyard (1964)
With changes in government policy, transportation, building practices, and
consumer tastes, the American city underwent changes of unprecedented scale and
speed in the post-World War II era. The shift of population from the urban center to
the suburban periphery aroused critics attention throughout the 1950s, reflecting and
expressing concerns about the consequences to city, suburb, and countryside.
Notably, one of the first major commentaries on city decay and suburban sprawl came
from the media empire of Republican publishing magnate Henry R. Luce. The
Exploding Metropolis began life as a series of articles in Fortune in 1958, written by
the magazines staff and one writer (Jane Jacobs) borrowed from coiporate sibling
40Peter Blake, Gods Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America's
Landscape, 2d ed., (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1979; first published
1964), p. 24.
Architectural Forum.M On first glance, it is a surprising source for an anti-sprawl
message: as Dolores Hayden notes, Time Inc. publications were some of William
Levitts most loyal cheerleaders in the early 1950s.41 42 Yet Luce, the son of
Presbyterian missionaries, saw journalism as his calling and elevation of the cultural
tastes of his readers as his particular responsibility. In 1957, he told an audience of
architects, The American people are beginning to get the word about architecture
.... Its up to us to send out the word more vigorously.43
Luces cultural tastes were probably more conservative than those of the
contributors to The Exploding Metropolis, and the series and book still represented a
departure from the journalism of reassurance that James L. Baughman argues
41Time Inc. established Fortune in 1930 and purchased Architectural Forum in
1932, which spun off House and Home in 1952. (Whytes article on urban sprawl
was reprinted as How to Save Open Spaces in H&H the month following its
Fortune appearance.) In 1964, Time sold H&H to McGraw-Hill and gifted the
publication rights for Architectural Forum to the non-profit American Planning and
Civic Association; see Frank Luther Mott, A History of American Magazines, vol. 5,
Sketches of 21 Magazines, 1905-1930 (Cambridge: The Belknap Press, 1968),
p. 322. W.A. Swanberg speculates that Luce hung onto Architectural Forum, despite
its marginal profitability, for 32 years due to his interest in architecture; see W.A.
Swanberg, Luce and His Empire (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1972), p. 133.
42Hayden, Building Suburbia, pp. 134-135.
43Henry Luce, Good Architecture is Good Government, address to the
American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., 16 May 1957, in The Ideas of
Henry Luce, ed. John K. Jessup (New York: Atheneum, 1969), p. 276. On Luce as
cultural missionary, see James L. Baughman, Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the
American News Media (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987), pp. 1-7, 171-172,198.
characterized most of Time Inc.s output.44 The authors painted a disturbing portrait
of decaying slums, congested streets, ill-conceived urban renewal projects, and
unending sprawl. In his introduction to the 1993 reprint, Sam Bass Warner calls The
Exploding Metropolis the spearhead of todays counter movements for urban
preservation and environmentally sound urban design. He notes that the authors
were united in their skepticism of large-scale solutions; having seen the results of
superhighways, superblocks, and mass-produced housing, they advocated instead for
the small-scale, the local, the particular.45
Journalist William H. Whyte, Jr., edited the volume and authored its chapter
on sprawl. Famous as the author of The Organization Man, an exploration of
conformity in suburban and corporate America, Whyte inaugurated a new phase of
his career with The Exploding Metropolis, advocating for open space preservation and
44Baughman, Henry R. Luce, p. 171. Time Inc. hierarchy did struggle with
some of the content of The Exploding Metropolis. Decades later, both Jane Jacobs
and William Whyte recalled that her attack on the proposed Lincoln Center initially
horrified Fortune editors. See William H. Whyte, C.D. Jackson Meets Jane Jacobs,
preface to The Exploding Metropolis, ed. William H. Whyte (Garden City, N.Y.:
Doubleday, 1958; reprint, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. xv-
xvii; David Dillon, Jane Jacobs: Eyes on the Street, Preservation 50
(January/February 1998): 41-42.
45Sam Bass Warner, Jr., foreword to The Exploding Metropolis, pp. i, v. The
authors rejection of large-scale solutions brought them into conflict with New Deal
Greenbelt Town advocates like Lewis Mumford. For a brief discussion of
Mumfords reaction to Exploding Metropolis, particularly his criticism of Jacobs, see
Dillon, Jane Jacobs, p. 42.
the revival of central cities. In the opening paragraphs to Urban Sprawl, Whyte set
the tone for future literature on the subject:
Flying from Los Angeles to San Bernardino an unnerving lesson in
mans infinite capacity to mess up his environment the traveler can
see a legion of bulldozers gnawing into the last remaining tract of
green between the two cities, and from San Bernardino another legion
of bulldozers gnawing westward.46
Like Garnetts Over California photographs, Whyte presented an aerial view of
housing construction, but as an image of destruction rather than one of creation,
echoing that of the books title metaphor, a particularly visceral image in the atomic
age. The zoomorphic symbol of voracious bulldozers added to the sense of
impending disaster. Throughout the article, Whyte exhorted agricultural and
community interests to take immediate action to acquire remaining parcels of open
46Whyte, Urban Sprawl, Exploding Metropolis, p. 133. Dolores Hayden
echoes Whytes aerial description in the opening of her 2003 book; see Hayden,
Building Suburbia, p. 3.
space, rather than wait for city planners to design antiseptic green belts.47 He
advocated pragmatism, working within the system by compromising with developers
and designing open-space programs not to destroy property rights but to enhance
their ultimate value.48
While Whyte developed his early arguments for open space in The Exploding
Metropolis, Jane Jacobs addressed the world ex-urbanites left behind in the cities. In
her article Downtown is for People, she attacked suburban sprawls destructive
twin, the ambitious urban renewal projects of the 1950s and 1960s.49 Jacobs argued
47Whyte, Urban Sprawl, Exploding Metropolis, p. 156. In this article and
his later book-length discussion of open space, Whyte makes an explicit departure in
his conception of open space from the Garden City and New Town/greenbelt
movements of the Progressive and New Deal eras. He writes, The trouble with the
generalized green belt approach is that it asks for too much land and without ,
justifying it. See William H. Whyte, The Last Landscape (Garden City, New York:
Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1968), p. 12. On Ebenezer Howards Garden City
vision and its subsequent impact on urban thinkers such as Lewis Mumford, see
Robert Fishman, The Bounded City, in From Garden City to Green City: The
Legacy of Ebenezer Howard, ed. Kermit C. Parsons and David Schuyler (Baltimore:
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), pp. 58-66. For Mumfords own thoughts
on Howard, see Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its
Transformations, and Its Prospects (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc.,
1961), pp. 504-505,514-524.
'Whyte, Urban Sprawl, Exploding Metropolis, pp. 148, 154. On Whytes
ideas and their impact, see Glaser, The Man Who Loved Cities, pp. 30-31, 33, and
Rome, Bulldozer, pp. 128-139, 151-152. Rome argues that increased suburban
development in the 1960s and 1970s proved that Whytes can-do optimism was
ineffectual, while Glaser emphasizes the enduring utility of Whytes pragmatic
49Jane Jacobs, Downtown is for People, Exploding Metropolis, pp. 157-184.
for her own brand of historic preservation, not of the monuments and dated relics of
the City Beautiful era, but of the human-scale, adaptable structures conducive to a
vibrant street life.50 Her skewering of high-profile projects like Lincoln Center
worried Fortune editors, but the publication of her article in The Exploding
Metropolis led to a Rockefeller Foundation grant and her now-classic book, The
Death and Life of American Cities.51
After the 1958 release of The Exploding Metropolis, other commentators
joined the chorus of criticism directed toward sprawl and decay.52 In 1964, former
Architectural Forum editor Peter Blake published Gods Own Junkyard, an enraged
attack on the built environment of the United States and its suburbs in particular.
Blake drew many of his metaphorical parallels through artful juxtaposition of
^Jacobs, Downtown, p. 159. For a fuller explication of Jacobs critique of
Garden Cities and the City Beautiful movement, see Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life
of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), pp. 16-25.
51Dillon, Jane Jacobs, pp. 41-42.
52Among many examples, see Harrison E. Salisbury, Cities in the Grip of
Revolution, The New York Times Book Review, 5 October 1958, sec. 7, p. 1; Harold
H. Martin, Our Urban Revolution. Part I: Are We Building a City 600 Miles
Long? Saturday Evening Post 232 (2 January 1960): 13-15, Part II: Is Downtown
Doomed? Saturday Evening Post 232 (9 January 1960): 26-27, and Part III: Can
We Halt the Chaos? Saturday Evening Post 232 (16 January 1960): 30; Mitchell
Gordon, Sick Cities (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1963); Peter Blake, The
Suburbs are a Mess, The Saturday Evening Post 236 (5 October 1963): 14-16; Ben
H. Bagdikian, The Rape of the Land, Saturday Evening Post 239 (18 June 1966):
photographs: a tract house subdivision and an automobile junkyard, or rows of
identical suburban houses and rows of identical tombstones.53 Blake also used four of
William Garnetts aerial photographs of Lakewood, California, showing the various
stages of assembly-line construction. Instead of celebrating technological progress,
however, the photographs in this new context showed the environmental destruction
of the suburban boom.54
In Junkyard, Blake brought together issues of environmental conservation and
historic preservation, decrying the denigration of the United States natural
landscapes and historical streetscapes by callous real estate and political powers.
Cluttering the countryside with billboards, trampling farmland with tract houses, and
destroying architectural gems such as New Yorks Pennsylvania Station earned equal
vitriol from Blake.55 Building on the momentum of The Exploding Metropolis in the
late 1950s and Jacobs Death and Life of American Cities in the early 1960s, Blakes
53Blake, Gods Own Junkyard, photographs no. 87-88, pp. 112-113, and
photographs no. 91-92, p. 115. See also Blake, The Suburbs are a Mess, pp. 14-16.
54Adam Rome calls Blakes book the first sign of revisionism of Garnetts
images of technological progress. See Rome, Bulldozer, p. 2. For Garnett
photographs, see Blake, Junkyard, photographs 104-107, pp. 122-123.
55See Blake, Junkyard, pp. 27-46. In the preface to the 1979 edition, Blake
admits to some change of heart under the influence of the Pop Art movement and
architects such as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, but he continues to argue
that an architect must also be a messenger for an ideal, not just for an ironic
statement. Blake, Junkyard, p. 20. See also Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and
Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1972).
Junkyard helped to coalesce an intellectual movement interested in redirecting the
evolution of Americas developer-driven cityscape. Blake and his colleagues gave
voice to growing concerns among citizen activists in both the environmental and
historic preservation fields including concerned residents of suburbia.
Anti-Sprawl Movements in the Suburbs
Ironically, [Blakes book] is aimed at an audience that has ceased to
see, that accepts the chaotic squalor it has created and lives in its own
esthetic filth. It is addressed to a people whose philosophy is
pragmatism and a country that maintains an almost mystical belief in
the sanctity of free enterprise and the ultimate good of private profit.56
Ada Louise Huxtable, review of Gods Own Junkyard (1964)
Never one to sugarcoat her words, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable
lauded Peter Blake for his insightful observations but chided him for wasting them on
an audience past redemption. Architects and intellectuals maintained a spirited
dialogue on the aesthetic shortcomings of suburbia, but was it worthwhile to direct
similar messages to the mainstream?57 William H. Whyte clearly thought so, writing
in his introduction to The Exploding Metropolis that it is the layman, we believe,
who must take the initiative. His original audience of Fortune readers was corporate
56Ada Louise Huxtable, America the Beautiful, Defaced, Mutilated, The
New York. Times Book Review (12 January 1964): 7.
57Blake sought a wide general audience for his ideas by publishing a preview
article in the Saturday Evening Post before publishing Junkyard. See Peter Blake,
The Suburbs Are a Mess, Saturday Evening Post 236 (5 October 1963): 14.
executives, not residents of tract-house suburbs, but certainly they were among those
making decisions as business and civic leaders that affected suburban growth.58 More
general-interest magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post also highlighted the
problems of suburban sprawl, an issue close to home for their many suburban
Media coverage aided a growing consciousness of suburban sprawl among
middle-class Americans, but the personal experiences of suburbanites also sparked
activism. As Adam Rome discusses in The Bulldozer in the Countryside, some
homeowners in postwar developments experienced an ecological catastrophe literally
in their own backyards. As subdivisions outraced municipal boundaries, developers
relied on often-inadequate septic tank systems, which leaked detergent waste into tap
water and turned suburban yards into health hazards. Meanwhile, few developers set
aside space for parks, assuming small backyards provided adequate room for
58Whyte, Exploding Metropolis, p. 15. For an examination of Fortune's
readership, see Baughman, Henry R. Luce, pp. 73-74, 153, 169-171.
59See above for several examples.
recreation. Instead, suburban children sought out nearby, undeveloped, wooded lots
for their playgrounds until the bulldozers arrived to clear the land for new houses.60
Rome argues that these experiences added a mainstream, middle-class
dimension to the burgeoning environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s.61
Motivated by personal experience, press coverage, or both, suburbanites in the late
1960s took up environmental causes, particularly those in their own neighborhoods.
In 1966, Bagdikian reported in the Saturday Evening Post, In every city and in
thousands of towns and obscure neighborhoods, there are housewives and
homeowners banding together to fight, block by block, sometimes tree by tree, to
save a small hill, a tiny brook, a stand of maples.62 A nationwide movement to
preserve open space gamed momentum in the 1960s, with federal funding made
Rome, Bulldozer, pp. 87-118, 122, 127-128. Rome cites a famous letter to
President Kennedy from a suburban child, who wrote, we Have no Place to go when
we want to go out in the canyon Because there are going to Build houses So could
you setaside some land where we could Play? See Rome, Bulldozer, p. 128, and
61Rome, Bulldozer, pp. 7-8. As Rome notes, other historians have emphasized
the impact of the counterculture on the environmental movement, while neglecting
the role of more mainstream elements; see Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the
American Mind, 4th ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 251-
62Bagdikian, Rape of the Land, p. 26. Adam Rome includes this same quote
in his discussion of grassroots environmental efforts in the suburbs; see Bulldozer in
the Countryside, pp. 146-148, quote p. 147.
available by the Housing Act of 1961.6j A change in public attitudes toward land use
controls, dubbed the quiet revolution, brought new legislation in several states, and
more suburban jurisdictions, overwhelmed by growth, hired professional planners.63 64
Activists recognized not only the ecological destruction of the postwar
suburban boom, but its threat to historical structures and landscapes as well.
American historic preservation and environmental conservation movements had
intersected, though not meshed, throughout their histories, particularly within the
630n the Housing Act of 1961, see Mel Scott, American City Planning Since
1890 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), pp. 565-570. On the quiet
revolution, see Rome, Bulldozer, pp. 263-270. Rome concludes that land-use
legislation succeeded in stopping egregious environmental practices such as
floodplain development, wetland destruction, and septic tank pollution, but it has had
limited effect on suburban sprawl. While environmental historian Daniel Press agrees
with Rome that development has and will continue to outpace preservation, he
emphasizes the remarkable successes of land preservation in growth-crazy California.
See Daniel Press, Saving Open Space: The Politics of Local Preservation in
California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), especially pp. 1-6.
^For an exhaustive bibliography of land use control programs, see Jerry
Weitz, From Quiet Revolution to Smart Growth: State Growth Management
Programs, 1960-1999, Journal of Planning Literature 14 (November 1999): 266-
337. On city planners in suburbia, see Scott, American City Planning, pp. 504-513.
At one time or another, the profession of city planning has both embraced
decentralization as a means of solving urban congestion and decried its resulting
sprawl. A thorough discussion of the complicated role of city planners in the sprawl
debates is beyond the scope of this thesis.
mission of the National Park Service.65 The 1960s brought a new level of
concurrence: a common enemy in unchecked development, a shared interest in
careful use of resources, and a mutual appreciation for humanistic principles.
Spurring on both movements, seminal texts such as Gods Own Junkyard or the
National Trust for Historic Preservations With Heritage So Rich brought widespread
attention to the ecological, aesthetic, and cultural destruction of suburban sprawl.66
As historian James A. Glass states, works of writers such as Blake and Jacobs
Preservation historian William J. Murtagh argues that the federal
governments role in preservation grew out of its concern for the conservation of
Americas natural resources, beginning with the Antiquities Act of 1906; see
William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in
America, 2ded. (New York: Preservation Press, 1997), p. 12. Rebecca Conard also
discusses how leaders in the early conservation movement included man-made
resources in their preservation efforts, as demonstrated in the career of Congressman
John F. Lacey, chair of the House Public Lands Committee, who spearheaded both
the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 and the Antiquities Act of 1906; see Conard,
Applied Environmentalism, p. 13. On the National Park Service and its
stewardship of both natural and cultural resources, see Conard, Applied
Environmentalism, p. 16; Murtagh, Keeping Time, pp. 40, 53-58; and Norman Tyler,
Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, 2d
ed. (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2000), p. 36.
See With Heritage So Rich: A Report of a Special Committee on Historic
Preservation Under the Auspices of the United States Conference of Mayors, by
Albert Rains, Chairman, and Laurance G. Henderson, Director (New York: Random
House, 1966). Both Tyler and Murtagh credit With Heritage So Rich as a driving
force behind the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966; see Murtagh, Keeping
Time, p. 64, and Tyler, Historic Preservation, pp. 44-45. Blakes Junkyard also
figures in preservation history; Murtagh writes that it brought home to a thinking
public the trashing of America which the throw-away mentality of the twentieth
century seemed to foster. Murtagh, Keeping Time, p. 62.
expressed the view that man-made historic sites and structures were part of the
human environment and frequently just as worthy of preservation as unspoiled natural
As public outcry over losses of natural and cultural resources gained
momentum, federal and state governments stepped in to address these concerns. Key
pieces of legislation reflected the common purposes of environmental and historic
preservation, beginning with the shared threat of sprawl. Title VII of the Housing Act
of 1961, which created the federal Open-Space Land Program, argued:
The Congress finds that a combination of economic, social,
governmental, and technological forces have caused a rapid expansion
of the Nations urban areas ... which, combined with a rapid
population growth in such areas, threatens severe problems of urban
and suburban living, including the loss of valuable open-space land in
such areas, for the preponderant majority of the Nations present and
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 echoed a similar assessment
of the effect of sprawl on landscapes of time as well as nature:
67James A. Glass, The Beginnings of a New National Historic Preservation
Program, 1957 to 1969 (Nashville, Tenn.: American Association for State and Local
History, 1990), p. 7.
68Housing Act of 1961, Title VII, Open Space Land and Urban Beautification
and Improvement, Public Law 87-70, 87th Cong. (June 1961), reprinted in U.S.
Congress, House, Committee on Banking and Currency, Basic Laws and Authorities
on Housing and Urban Development (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing
Office, 1965), p. 378.
In the face of ever-increasing extensions of urban centers, highways,
and residential, commercial, and industrial developments, the present
governmental and nongovernmental historic preservation programs
and activities are inadequate to ensure future generations a genuine
opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the rich heritage of our Nation.69
Aside from specific mentions of open space or rich heritage, these statements
could be interchangeable.
Much of this 1960s legislation assumed some type of cooperation between
environmental and historic preservation aims.70 In particular, open space initiatives
demonstrated a marriage of these concerns from the start. Hearings on the open space
69National Historic Preservation Act, Public Law 89-665, 89th Cong. (15
October 1966), reprinted in National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, As Amended
(Washington, D.C.: Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, 1993), p. 7. Murtagh
describes the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as environmental
legislation, concerned with what one might call the cultural ecology of Americas
built environment. Murtagh, Keeping Time, p. 68. In addition, environmental
historians have recently drawn parallels between the NHPA and the Endangered
Species Act of 1973, in both their moral underpinnings and legislative evolution; see
Laura A. Watt, Leigh Raymond, and Meryl L. Eschen, Reflections on Preserving
Ecological and Cultural Landscapes, Environmental History 9 (October 2004): 620-
70At the federal level, cooperation was often required. Section 106 of the
NHPA mandates that all federal or federally funded projects take into account the
effect of the undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is
included or eligible for inclusion in the National Register. See National
Preservation Act, As Amended, pp. 25-26. Following passage of the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the Nixon administration incorporated historic
preservation into NEPA initiatives through Executive Order 11593 in 1971. See
Glass, Beginnings, p. 61. A preservationists guide to working under NEPA appeared
in February 1973; see David A. Clary, Preserving the Environment: Participating in
the Review Process, American Association for State and Local History Technical
Leaflet 8, History News 28 (February 1973): insert.
provisions in the Housing Act of 1961 included not only support from environmental
groups such as the National Audubon Society, but also from the American Institute of
Architects. As Philip Will, Jr., ALA president, testified, If we are to preserve what is
left of the natural majesty and beauty of America [and] protect its historic sites and
watersheds,... we must protect our open spaces by law.71 The final language of
Title VII, Open Space Land and Urban Beautification and Improvement, reflected
this same motivation to preserve cultural and environmental heritage: Section 709
defined open space land, in part, as any undeveloped or predominantly
undeveloped land in an urban area which has value for ... historic or scenic
With passage of the Housing Act of 1961, the federal government continued
to encourage the use of open space funds toward projects incorporating historic
preservation initiatives. Ironically, this guidance came via the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, whose urban renewal projects had bulldozed their
way through many historic districts. However, with passage of the NHPA and the
71Congress, House, Committee on Banking and Currency, Housing Act of
1961: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Housing of the Committee on Banking
and Currency, 87th Cong., 1st Sess., 24 April 1961 5 May 1961, p. 862.
nBasic Laws on Housing, p. 382. Executive Orders 11017 and 11237, issued
by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson respectively, also included historic sites under
initiatives for open space and urban beautification. See Basic Laws on Housing, pp.
Demonstration Cities Act, HUD changed its policies toward more reuse of existing
structures.73 This new philosophy led to HUDs publication of Preserving Historic
America, the departments guidelines for using urban renewal funds for preservation
(rather than demolition) of older buildings.74
A section of this publication centered on HUDs Open-Space Land Program
and its applicability to historic preservation initiatives, including acquisition of land
with historic value and/or containing historic structures. Preserving Historic America
included several examples of the successful use of open space funds for historic
preservation purposes. Historic battlefields like Monmouth and Bull Run, where
historic landscapes rather than structures predominated, made a natural fit for open
space programs. However, other applications involved elaborate buildings. In
Portland, the city stepped in to save the 46-acre Pittock Estate with a federal Open-
Space Land Grant and funding raised by concerned citizens. While the land added an
important piece to the citys park system, the purchase also halted the imminent
73Murtagh, Keeping Time, p. 69.
74Department of Housing and Urban Development, Preserving Historic
America (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1966), pp. 65-73. Another
HUD publication, this one specific to the Open-Space Land Program, discusses its
applicability to historic preservation activities. See Department of Housing and
Urban Development, Urban Renewal Administration, Open Space for Urban
America, by Ann Louise Strong (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,
1971), pp. 84-87.
demolition of a 16,000-square-foot' mansion built by Oregon pioneer and publisher
As to be expected, Preserving Historic America painted an appealing picture
of these partnerships between open space and historic preservation. Such projects
demonstrated that an immediate threat from sprawl and development could pull
together effective coalitions from both groups, particularly when such partnerships
opened up new federal funding possibilities. In 1972, the General Accounting Office
reported that HUDs Open-Space Land Program had disbursed $4.3 million in grants
for historic preservation purposes a somewhat modest sum compared with the
programs overall disbursement of $264.6 million over nine years, but still significant
in terms of building alliances such as that which saved the Pittock Estate.76
The long-term prospects for sucn coalitions, however, would depend on
initiatives at the state and local levels, where open space programs had begun to gain
ground. Along the Front Range of Colorado, local governments in the Denver
15Preserving Historic America, p. 68. Portland Parks and Recreation still
owns and operates the Pittock Mansion for tours and special events, with the
assistance of the Pittock Mansion Society. Helen L. Mershon, An Oregon original:
Portlands Pittock, The Oregonian, 2 February 1997, p. L09.
76U.S. General Accounting Office, Improvements Needed in Administration of
Open-Space Land Program, Department of Housing and Urban Development
(Washington, D.C.: General Accounting Office, 1972), p. 5. The report noted that
from 1961 through June 30, 1970, the Open-Space Land Program had assisted more
than 1,000 local governments in acquiring nearly 380,000 acres for open space
metropolitan area had started studying the problem of urban sprawl in the early
1960s.77 The city of Boulder, to the northwest of Denver, became one of the first
jurisdictions in the country to institute a program dedicated to preserving open space
from suburban sprawl, initiating a voter-approved sales tax for open space in 1967.78
Yet Boulders program contained no provision for historic properties.
The first open space program in the area to combine environmental protection
and historic preservation was in Jefferson County, Denvers rapidly suburbanizing
western neighbor. Once deemed seriously lacking in public parks by the Inter-
county Regional Planning Commission,79 Jefferson County created an open space
program in 1972 through a county wide sales tax, joining the city of Boulder as the
77Open Space Development Plan for the Denver Region (Denver, Colo.: Inter-
county Regional Planning Commission, 1963). At the time of the report, the vast
majority of publicly held lands in the Denver region were military installations such
as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Lowry Air Force Base and public water supplies
such as Cherry Creek Reservoir.
78Defining the first open space program in Colorado or in the United States is
largely a question of semantics. Denvers city and mountain parks system, discussed
in the next chapter, preserved open space in the early twentieth century, well before
the term was in wide use. One could argue that New Yorks Central Park or
Londons Hyde Park represent preserved open space. While I have chosen to avoid
drawing a definite line between urban parks and open space, the city of Boulders
1967 sales tax does represent an early achievement in preserving landscapes from
post-World War II suburban sprawl. See Thomas J. Noel and Dan W. Corson,
Boulder County: An Illustrated History (Carlsbad, Calif.: Heritage Media
Corporation, 1999), p. 146.
79Open Space Development Plan, p. 4.
only local jurisdictions actively funding open space acquisition. In addition, the
countys open space resolution included historic preservation as part of its mission.
Jefferson Countys efforts in historic preservation, beginning with the 1974
acquisition of the Hiwan Homestead in Evergreen, provide a useful case study to
examine the inner workings of partnerships between environmental conservation and
historic preservation the intersection of interests under development pressures, as
well as the divisions between the aims of these two activist groups.
SAVING HIWAN HOMESTEAD
We see the lovely forests and canyons and streams, often assuming
with our pioneer ancestors that it will always be the same, for
everyone to enjoy. Lately, however, we have begun doubting these
League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, 1971
Home of Denvers burgeoning western suburbs, Jefferson County attracted
new residents throughout the 1950s and 1960s with its mountain vistas and forested
foothills. By the 1970s, however, concerned residents noted that the countys
increasing popularity and prosperity threatened the very amenities that attracted such
growth. Despite their traditionally tax-averse, small-government political culture,
Jefferson County residents voted in 1972 to impose a sales tax to save open spaces in
their county. With the support of fifty-five percent of voters, Jefferson County
mThe Mountain Puzzle: Land Use (Lakewood, Colo.: League of Women
Voters of Jefferson County, 1972), p. 21.
became one of the first counties in the United States to designate sales tax revenue to
acquire open space.
The success of the measure came without the support of local city councils
and newspapers, which felt residents of Jefferson Countys incorporated cities would
bear an unfair financial burden for parks far from their flatland neighborhoods.81 82
County officials also exhibited little initiative to preserve natural areas. Instead of
coming through official channels, the leadership to save open space came from
community groups such as the League of Women Voters and PLAN Jeffco. Where
many politicians saw progress, these local activists perceived the impending
destruction of Jefferson Countys natural landscapes. The threat of suburban sprawl
that spurred their efforts loomed especially large in the countys scenic western
foothills, where one of Jefferson County Open Spaces earliest purchases brought
together both environmental and historical preservation.
81Jefferson County Unofficial Precinct Totals, Lakewood Sentinel, 9
November 1972, pp. 38-41. In Colorado, the cities of Boulder and Aspen both had a
sales tax designated for open space prior to the creation of the Jefferson County
program; see Mountain Puzzle, p. 24.
82Council neutral on open space proposal, Lakewood Sentinel, 5 October
1972, p. 3; UC endorses open space proposal, Lakewood Sentinel, 26 October 1972,
p. 2; PLAN Jeffco finds little city support, Arvada Citizen Sentinel, 5 October
1972, p. 3; Local endorsements, Arvada Citizen Sentinel, 2 November 1972, p. 62;
PLAN Jeffco, Lakewood Sentinel, 2 November 1972, p. 95.
Denvers booming neighbor to the west, Jefferson County had formerly
provided the city with a rural retreat. Once hunting grounds for the Ute, Arapahoe,
and Cheyenne, hamlets like Evergreen began attracting Euro-American ranchers and
tourists in the late 1800s. Denver residents and visitors from the East traveled to the
area for mountain solitude and scenery.83 Building on the regions popularity,
Denvers mayor, Robert W. Speer, led the drive to create a mountain parks system in
the early 1900s. Bom out of the City Beautiful era and finished just before World
War II, the Denver Mountain Parks System encompassed more than 13,000 acres,
mostly in the foothills and mountains of Jefferson County.84 Speers vision had a
lasting impact: the National Register nomination for Denver Mountain Parks credits
the system with setting] the stage for regional open space planning in Colorado,
and local historians Carole Lomond and Barbara and Gene Sternberg have noted the
83For descriptions of Evergreen as an early resort town, see Stephen J.
Leonard and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: Mining Camp to Metropolis (Niwot, Colo.:
University Press of Colorado, 1990), pp. 312-317; Barbara Sternberg and Gene
Sternberg, Evergreen: Our Mountain Community, 2d ed. (Evergreen, Colo.:
Sternberg and Sternberg, 1993), pp. 1-9, 11, 86-97; Cathleen M. Norman,
Preliminary Historic Contexts, 1999-2000 Cultural Resource Survey of
Unincorporated Jefferson County (Golden, Colo.: Jefferson County Historical
Commission, 2000), pp. 53-67.
^For the history of the Denver Mountain Parks, see National Register of
Historic Places Multiple Property Submission, Denver Mountain Parks (Denver:
Colorado Historical Society, 1990), pp. El-20, FI 1-17; Sternberg and Sternberg,
Evergreen, pp. 100-108; Norman, Preliminary Historic Contexts, pp. 57-61; and
Thomas J. Noel and Barbara Norgren, Denver: The City Beautiful (Denver, Colo.:
Historic Denver, Inc., 1987), pp. 26-27.
similarities between the activism of Denver Mountain Parks advocates and the
supporters of Jefferson County Open Space six decades later.85
The Denver Mountain Parks system opened Jefferson Countys natural
wonders to automobiles through scenic drives like the Lariat Loop. Later, the New
Deal and World War II brought federally funded road projects to the county,
expanding and extending east-west arterials such as West Alameda Parkway and
West Sixth Avenue.86 As travel into Jefferson County became easier, more Denver
residents could consider enjoying mountain living on weekends, in summer, or even
year-round.87 By the late 1960s, the suburbanization seen in flatland towns such as
Arvada seemed poised to make the jump to the mountains. A 1971 report sponsored
by the Rocky Mountain Center on the Environment projected that Jefferson Countys
total population of 233,000 would double by 1990. The mountain area, defined as
west of the Hogback and North and South Table mountains, was expected to triple in
85See National Register, Denver Mountain Parks, p. El; Carole Lomond,
Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway (Golden, Colo.: Views Publishing Company,
2002), p. iii; Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 108.
mLakewood-Colorado: An Illustrated Biography (Lakewood, Colo.:
Lakewoods 25th Anniversary Commission, 1994), pp. 72, 101.
87Historian William Philpott has dubbed this phenomenon the tourist way of
life. New Colorado mountain residents chose their new homes based on the same
criteria a tourist might use to decide where to vacation ... [and] made outdoor leisure
the center of their entire lifestyle. See William Philpott, Consuming Colorado:
Landscapes, Leisure, and the Tourist Way of Life (Ph.D. diss., University of
Wisconsin-Madison, 2002), pp. 12-13.
population in twenty years, from 14,500 to nearly 45,000. Its urbanization rate had
already accelerated from three percent in 1967 to eight percent three years later.88
Jefferson Countys mountain-area growth coincided with construction of
Interstate 70 west from Denver. The Interstate Highway Act of 1956 sparked
construction of superhighways across the United States, altering the shape of cities
and raising concerns among the burgeoning environmental and historic preservation
movements.89 Interstate 70 had already cut a destructive path through Denvers
88Elizabeth A. Losinski, Growth and Development in the Mountain Area of
Jefferson County, Colorado (Denver: Rocky Mountain Center on the Environment
and Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Resources Development
Internship Program, 1971), pp. 6, 8. The predictions reported by Losinski proved
basically accurate. Jefferson Countys total population in 1990 was 438,000; see
Total Jefferson County, Colorado, Population Growth from 1990, located at
pop-growth-1990.htm>; accessed 11 November 2004. While 1990 statistics
comparable with Losinskis definition of mountain area were not available,
Jefferson County reports that 1990 U.S. Census data shows that the combined
population of the Indian Hills, Conifer, Evergreen, and Central Mountains
communities was 39,561. This figure does not include the sizeable foothills
subdivision of Ken Caryl Ranch. See Demographic Profdes, located at
profiles.htm>; accessed 11 November 2004.
890n the Interstate Highway Act and its impact on suburban sprawl, see
Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier (New York: Oxford University Press,
1985), pp. 248-251, and Dolores Hayden, Building Suburbia: Green Fields and
Urban Growth, 1820-2000 (New York: Pantheon Books, 2003), pp. 158-168.
Hayden argues that the 1956 Interstate Highway Act resembled the 1934 Federal
Housing Act in subsidizing private enterprise and suburban growth. On the reaction
of environmentalists to highway construction, see Mark H. Rose, Interstate: Express
Highway Politics, 1939-1989, 2d ed. (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press,
1990), pp. 101-102, 105-107.
poorer north neighborhoods in the mid-1960s; Jefferson County would not be spared
such change. The federal government initially intended to terminate the interstate in
Denver, but lobbying by Colorado business and political interests won authorization
for extension of the highway westward through the Rocky Mountains.90
Construction of the interstate through Jefferson County posed a direct danger
to specific historic sites and structures, from the stagecoach stop at the mouth of
Mount Vernon Canyon to dinosaur tracks along the Hogback.91 Yet Interstate 70 also
presented an indirect threat to the entire historic and physical fabric of the county.
Road construction brought a transformation in the character of mountain communities
such as Evergreen. As the Sternbergs note, Good roads and cheap automobiles were
making Evergreen too accessible to be a desirable summer resort, while commercial
air travel was bringing more exotic areas into the realm of the possible. So the
summer tourist appeal was declining at the same time as year-round accessibility was
90Leonard and Noel, Denver, pp. 272-273; Through the Colorado Rockies:
Interstate 70 (Denver: Colorado Division of Highways, n.d.); Philpott, Consuming
Colorado, pp. 11-12, 165-219.
91 John Toohey, Interstate 70 Bringing Benefits, Problems to Jeffco, The
Denver Post, 19 June 1967, p. 24. The stagecoach stop, known as the Mount Vernon
House or Robert W. Steele House, became Jefferson Countys first site listed on the
National Register. Forcing a change in the original route for 1-70, the Steele House
became known as the house that moved a freeway, according to Thomas J. Noel,
Buildings of Colorado (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 156-157.
improving.92 By making the Jefferson County foothills and mountains easily
reachable from Denver, construction of Interstate 70 (and later C-470) encouraged
developers to build subdivisions on a scale never before seen in the area.93
As Jefferson County residents absorbed the news of proposed developments
like Ken Caryl Ranch and Genesee, another major change for the county loomed in
the form of the 1976 Winter Olympics. Plans for sporting venues in the Evergreen
and Indian Hills areas sparked strong negative reaction from residents. Denver
Olympics boosters cringed when Newsweek quoted one local as saying, If they get
away with this, we might as well change the towns name to Nevergreen.94
Opposition organized into activist groups like Protect Our Mountain Environment
(POME), founded by Indian Hills resident Vance Dittman. Colorado voters
eventually shut off funding for the 1976 Denver Olympics, in the same November
92Stemberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 213.
93For example, the proposed Ken Caryl Ranch subdivision was expected to
accommodate 40,000 to 50,000 new Jefferson County residents. Mountain Puzzle,
p. 2; Losinski, Growth, pp. 10, 17-18.
^Nevergreen, Newsweek 76 (14 December 1970): 94.
1972 election that secured the open space tax.95 Yet the activism continued, as
POME joined with other groups such as the Mountain Area Planning Council
(MAPC) to address concerns with county planning and land use.96
This alphabet soup of watchdog groups resulted in part from the political
structure of Jefferson County. Except for longstanding municipalities like Golden
and Arvada, most of the county remained unincorporated by 1970, despite years of
suburban growth. Aside from the tiny Town of Morrison, mountain areas such as
Conifer, Pine, Indian Hills, and Evergreen chose to avoid incorporation.97 This
resistance to local government extended to the flatlands of Jefferson County as well:
95For a full report of the Olympics controversy, see Mark S. Foster,
Colorados Defeat of the 1976 Winter Olympics, The Colorado Magazine 53
(Spring 1976): 163-186. Foster concludes, While environmental and growth
considerations were the foundation of much of the early opposition to hosting the
games in Colorado, concern over state and city spending was the legal issue upon
which opponents based their successful campaign to remove the Olympics (p. 169).
Jefferson County voted 60,669 to 51,128 in favor of cutting off state funding for the
Winter Olympics; see Election tally, Lakewood Sentinel, 9 November 1972, p. 1.
%Pat Bray, POME has new Olympics challenge, Lakewood Sentinel, 26
October 1972, p. 11; Hugh DeWig, POMEs planning, Letter to the Editor,
Lakewood Sentinel, 9 November 1972, p. 79. MAPC and POME were joined in
1980s by groups with even catchier acronyms, such as PLEASE and ENABLE; see
Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, pp. 192-193.
970n Evergreens long resistance to incorporation, see Sternberg and
Sternberg, Evergreen, pp. 11, 28-29. The Town of Morrison remains the only
incorporated unit in the area today.
Lakewood and Wheat Ridge, representing roughly half of the countys 1970
population, had only just incorporated in 1969 after years of conflict.98
In the absence of local municipalities, special districts proliferated to cover
those services not provided by the county. While special districts could address water
and sewer service, fire and police protection, or recreation facilities,99 they proved
useless in coping with the larger issues facing Jefferson Countys mountain areas.
Barbara and Gene Sternberg state the problem well:
The irony is that, as an unincorporated community in Jefferson
County, Evergreen has had to develop all kinds of special districts to
supplement basic county services. And no type of special district has
yet been devised to give the community control over its major concern
for the last twenty years the character and pace of growth.100
"When the cities formed in 1969, Lakewood encompassed a population of
90,000 and Wheat Ridge, 30,000; see Leonard and Noel, Denver, pp. 302-307, 310-
312. According to the Jefferson County web site, roughly one-third of county
residents (more than 180,000) still live in unincorporated areas; see Unincorporated
Jefferson County Population Estimates, located at
11 November 2004.
"Even in the area of public services, the efficacy of special districts is
arguable. As the League of Women Voters of Colorado reported in 1961, Areas
which are already under six or eight layers of taxing jurisdiction still have a pattern of
public services which is full of gaps. See League of Women Voters of Colorado,
Cooperation or Confusion?, part II, The Urban and Metropolitan Problem in
Colorado (Denver: League of Women Voters of Colorado, 1961), p. 7.
100Stemberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 11.
By resisting the local control (and taxation) of a town or city, Jefferson Countys
mountain residents left their communitys destiny up to remote bureaucracy and
For the mountain areas that spawned groups like MAPC and POME,
jurisdiction over planning and development lay entirely with the three Jefferson
County commissioners. Yet even the commissioners had limited control over growth
- limits they often imposed upon themselves. Political scientist Elizabeth A. Losinski
interviewed all three commissioners in 1971 and came away with the conclusion that
their policy has been one of strict interpretation of the authority given to them in this
field [of land use planning,] and the economic interests of the county took
precedence.101 Reluctant for whatever reasons to take on developers, the
commissioners refused to step into disputes over growth, claiming they lacked the
authority, and therefore the responsibility, to act. As Commissioner Jack Trezise said
If an individual owns a piece of property which the county would like
to see remain in open space while he can receive a large economic
gain from developing that property, he has a right to that profit. The
only way for the county to assure that the land remain in open space or
agricultural use would be to either buy the land itself or provide a
means in which profit can be gained from the land without developing
it. The county does not have the money, obviously, to purchase it.102
101Losinski, Growth, p. 28.
102Losinski, Growth, p. 29.
The commissioners demonstrated little interest to finding a creative financial or
political solution to this conundrum.
With commissioners abdicating leadership on growth issues, and many
residents reluctant to take on the responsibility of municipal incorporation, Jefferson
County faced a future of unchecked, unplanned growth. However, pockets of
community activism, stirred by sprawl and the Olympics issue, proved effective in
promoting conservation activities.103 One of the most successful citizen initiatives,
PLAN Jeffco, grew out of the countys League of Women Voters. The county
chapter voted in April 1971 to study land use issues and published their report, The
Mountain Puzzle: Land Use, in January 1972.104 At the same time, League member
Carol Karlin organized a meeting at her Lakewood home of citizens concerned about
disappearing open space. The group of flatlanders and mountain residents formed
103The Sternbergs cite several notable examples; see Sternberg and Sternberg,
Evergreen, p. 8.
lwThe Mountain Puzzle: Land Use (Lakewood, Colo.: League of Women
Voters of Jefferson County, 1972).
PLAN Jeffco, named after PLAN Boulder, the organization behind the City of
Boulders 1967 sales tax for open space.105
Unlike their colleagues in Boulder, who could work with a municipal
government, activists in Jefferson County had to approach the issue of open space
preservation at the county level. Fortunately for their purposes, Article 10, Chapter
138 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, which came into effect in 1967, had made
county wide sales taxes possible. Under Evergreen resident Mike Moore as chairman,
PLAN Jeffco drafted a ballot resolution creating a one-half of one percent sales tax to
fund county open space preservation. The resolution also called for creation of a ten-
member Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) to make recommendations to the
105For the story of PLAN Jeffco and the formation of Jefferson County Open
Space, see Leonard and Noel, Denver, pp. 318-319; Sternberg and Sternberg,
Evergreen, pp. 108-115; Lakewood-Colorado, pp. 189-191; Jeffco Open Space, 1973-
1984 (Lakewood, Colo.: League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, 1984), pp. 1-
2; Jefferson County, Colorado, 2003 Annual Report (Golden, Colo.: Jefferson
County Government, 2004), pp. 10-11; Gary Gerhardt, Squeezed for space:
competing interests vie for share of Jefferson Countys open lands, Rocky Mountain
News, 31 August 1997, pp. 64A, 67A; Gary Gerhardt, Fighting to save the land:
Lakewood woman led Jeffco Open Space drive, Rocky Mountain News, 31 August
1997, p. 66A. In the Boulder groups name (and presumably in Jefferson County as
well), the acronym PLAN stood for Peoples League for Action Now. See
Thomas J. Noel and Dan W. Corson, Boulder County: An Illustrated History
(Carlsbad, Calif.: Heritage Media Corporation, 1999). p. 146.
commissioners on open space acquisitions.106 PLAN Jeffco activists convinced the
commissioners to put the resolution on the ballot for November 1972, and it won
county wide support.107
As the Rocky Mountain News had reported before the election, the main
purpose of the proposal is preservation of land in essentially a natural state.108. In the
text of the ballot question approved by voters, sales tax proceeds would be used only
for planning for, developing necessary access to, acquiring, maintaining,
administering, and preserving open space real property ... and developing paths and
106Joumal of the Commissioners of Jefferson County, Colorado, 26 September
1972, Records of the Jefferson County Clerk to the Board, Golden, Colorado, Book
AA, pp. 119-121, microfilm. The resolution called for commissioners to select a
committee constituting three representatives from municipalities in Jefferson County,
three representatives from the county administration (including a qualified land
planner), three citizens at large, and one representative for the parks and recreation
districts in Jeffco. Carol Karlin and Mike Moore of PLAN Jeffco became two of the
first citizen representatives on OSAC.
107Support for the measure varied by location. Based on a precinct-by-precinct
report of the vote in the 9 November 1972 Lakewood Sentinel, 58 percent of
mountain-area voters supported the sales tax, in contrast to 51 percent in the older,
more densely settled cities of Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Mountain View, and Edgewater.
Newer communities on the flatlands, however, strongly supported the measure.
Jefferson County Unofficial Precinct Totals, Lakewood Sentinel, 9 November 1972,
pp. 38-41; see Appendix B. Newspaper accounts give no indication of an organized
opposition to the open space resolution, although the countys city councils were
lukewarm to the idea at best; see above.
108Jeffco considers tax to purchase parks space, Rocky Mountain News, 1
October 1972, p. 12. The same phrase is also quoted in Sales tax increase to finance
proposal, Lakewood Sentinel, 5 October 1972, p. 24.
trails thereon.109 The resolution approved by the commissioners, however, provided
greater detail in defining open space real property, encompassing uses from
preserving wildlife habitat and scenic areas to protecting agricultural lands and
floodplains from development.110
The resolution text also included historic monuments among the possible
types of open space land.111 This addition by PLAN Jeffco may have been something
of an afterthought, as evidenced by the omission of historic preservation issues from
local studies like the League of Women Voters Mountain Puzzle. John Litz, an
original PLAN Jeffco member, recently recalled that the group added historical
monuments to their agenda after a meeting with Golden city manager Walter Brown.
The City of Golden had recently saved the historic Astor House Hotel from
109Joumal of Commissioners, 26 September 1972, pp. 120-121.
110Joumal of Commissioners, 26 September 1972, p. 120; see Appendix C for
the complete description.
'"Journal of Commissioners, 26 September 1972, p. 120; see Appendix C.
See also Critics answered by PLAN Jeffco, Lakewood Sentinel, 26 October 1972,
demolition, barely raising the needed funds in time.112 According to Litz, Brown
suggested that open space sales tax revenue could provide funds for quick action on
the next historic structure under threat.113 With the timely local example of Astor
House, and the nationwide interest in the historic preservation cause boosted by
national legislation, PLAN Jeffco incorporated historic monuments into the
mandate of Jefferson County Open Space. It would take another group of community
activists to put this provision to the test, by lobbying for preservation of the Hiwan
Homestead in Evergreen.
112The 1867 Astor House Hotel, Colorados oldest stone hotel, narrowly
escaped demolition by the Golden Downtown Improvement District, which wanted
the lot for parking. The nonprofit Friends of Astor House Museum and Clear Creek
History Park now preserves the building as a museum. See Neil Paulson, Astor
House; a political history, Golden Daily Transcript, 8 June 1972, p. 1; Noel,
Buildings of Colorado, p. 153; Richard James Gardner, Jefferson County: Growth
and Preservation in Colorados Most Populous County (M. A. thesis, University of
Colorado at Denver, 2000), pp. 172-191.
113John Litz, e-mail to author, 27 September 2004. Interestingly, the city of
Boulders open space and greenbelt program, which served as a model for PLAN
Jeffco, contained no reference to historic preservation at the time of the Jefferson
County programs creation, so the idea may very well have come from Golden. See
City of Boulder, Colorado, Resolution No. 24, A Resolution Setting Forth the
Position of the City Council Relating to the Purposes and Methods of Implementing
the Open Space and Greenbelt Program, 2 April 1968, Records of City of Boulder
Open Space and Mountain Parks, Boulder, Colorado.
Camp Neosho and Hiwan Homestead
Communities are built with narrative, built upon shared memory, a
sense of the common good as opposed to individual interests, a
commitment to the distinctive qualities of a place.114
Robert R. Archibald, A Place to Remember
The Hiwan Homestead represents not only Jefferson County Open Spaces
first foray into historic preservation, but also an encapsulation of the countys
transition from agrarian to suburban. What began as a family retreat became the
center of Evergreens residential and commercial growth in the 1960s and 1970s.
Subdivision of the Hiwan ranchlands changed the face of mountain-area Jefferson
County forever. Yet these developments also spurred community activists to save
remnants of Evergreens past, including the historic structure at the heart of Hiwan
114Robert A. Archibald, A Place to Remember: Using History to Build
Community (Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 1999), p. 147.
Establishment of the Hiwan Homestead grew out of the rising tourist trade in
Jefferson County in the 1800s.115 Civil War widow Mary Neosho Williams and her
daughter, Dr. Josepha Williams, visited family in the Evergreen area and soon
returned, attracted by its natural beauty and growing popularity among fellow
Episcopalians.116 The well-to-do Williams family purchased wooded acreage east of
Evergreens main street and hired Scottish carpenter John Jock Spence to convert
an existing log structure into a home. Mary Williams christened the home and its
surrounding guest tents with her family name as Camp Neosho.
The business partnership of Jock Spence and Mary Williams resulted in a log
home of unusual craftsmanship and design. A master woodworker, Spence gave the
115The most thorough sources for the history of Hiwan Homestead are Connie
Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho to the Hiwan Homestead (Evergreen, Colo.:
Jefferson County Historical Society, 1985), and Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen,
pp. 47-59, 208-219. For short summaries of the homes history, see National
Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, Hiwan Homestead
(Evergreen, Colo.: Jefferson County Historical Society, 1973), pp. 2-3; Class III
Cultural Resource Inventory of Hiwan Homestead Museum, Jefferson County,
Colorado (Westminster, Colo.: SWCA Environmental Consultants, 2003), pp. 8-11;
Norman, Preliminary Historic Context, pp. 61-62; and Noel, Buildings of Colorado,
p. 165. Evergreens late historian Mary Helen Crain gives a colorful rendition of the
story in Homestead House of Hiwan, Canyon Courier, 5 July 1973, p. 24A.
116On the Williams-Douglas family, Hiwan Homestead, and its Episcopal
connections, see Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, pp. 47-59, and Fahnestock,
From Camp Neosho, pp. 1-37. Mary Williams later purchased a nearby hotel for an
Episcopal retreat center, around which grew the Evergreen Episcopal Conference,
now a National Register Historic District. Hiwan Homestead builder Jock Spence
also built many conference structures; see Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 50.
home a Rustic vernacular style.117 Eventually built out to 17 rooms, the house
included two octagonal log towers. At Mrs. Williamss request, Spence built parts of
the structure to accommodate existing trees on the lot, resulting in an unusual floor
plan. The builder also used his characteristic stairstep motif throughout the
Camp Neosho grew along with the Williams family. In 1896, Dr. Jo
married Episcopal clergyman Father Charles Winfred Douglas; their son, Frederick
Eric Douglas, was bom the following year. Spence expanded his work on the site,
replacing tent buildings with more permanent structures and creating a Baby House
and stone playhouse for Eric. Family interests continued to influence the shape and
interior design of the main homestead. In 1918, Spence added a vaulted Gothic
chapel and study for Canon Douglas in the octagonal northwest tower.119 Douglas
and his son shared an enthusiasm for Native American arts, reflected in the homes
furnishings. Eric, who played a key early role in developing the Denver Art
117This architectural classification is taken from Hiwan Homestead Museum,
Evergreen, Colorado, Historic Structures Report (Denver, Colo.: Architecture 2000,
P. C., 2001), pp. 2.1-1-2.1-2.
mFahnestock, From Camp Neosho, p. 22; Noel, Buildings of Colorado,
U9Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho, pp. 24-29.
Museums world-class Native American collections, painted Navaho Yei figures and
other tribal motives throughout the house.120
After the death of Dr. Jo, the Douglas family sold Camp Neosho to Darst and
Ruth Buchanan in 1939.121 The Oklahoma oilman and his wife had summered with
their three daughters in Evergreen since early 1930s. As they settled into their new
family retreat, Ruth rechristened the property Hiwan, a name she allegedly found in
an Anglo-Saxon dictionary left behind by Canon Douglas.122 The Buchanan family,
including their daughters and sons-in-law, came to live at Hiwan year-round through
the war years. Family members ran the property as the Hiwan Hereford Ranch, while
Darst added extensively to his land holdings in the area.123
I20Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho, pp. 30-31, 37.
121On the Buchanans and Hiwan, see Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, pp.
208-213, and Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho, pp. 38-41.
122Sources disagree over the meaning of Hiwan. Fahnestock claims it means
a high secluded place with enough land for one oxen [sic] to plow, while the
Sternbergs research turned up multiple possible definitions including a kings
household. See Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho, p. 1, and Sternberg and Sternberg,
Evergreen, p. 209.
123The Sternbergs report that Buchanan was such an avid real estate trader that
even his son-in-law could not estimate the extent of the Hiwan Ranch at its largest.
His lands crossed county lines between Jefferson, Gilpin, and Clear Creek, and once
stretched as far as the outskirts of Central City. See Sternberg and Sternberg,
Evergreen, pp. 210-211.
After World War n, family interests gradually turned from ranching to real
estate.124 One subdivision had already been platted on Camp Neosho property prior to
the Buchanan purchase, but it had not proven very successful. By the early 1950s, the
Buchanans added their new ventures, the Hiwan Development Company and the
Hiwan Hills subdivision, to the growing Evergreen real estate market. Hiwan Hills,
geared for existing mountain residents, provided few services beyond roads and
electricity. The real change came with the next phase, the Hiwan Village
development. First opened in 1962, the subdivision continued to expand throughout
the 1960s.125 Hiwan Village offered water and sewer hookups, plus a golf course and
country club, as well as commercial development such as a Safeway supermarket.
Marketed to commuters from Denver, rather than current mountain dwellers,
Hiwan Village changed the social as well as physical contours of Evergreen. The
subdivision spread between the historic hubs of Evergreen and Bergen Park, fitting
into neither community. Not that Hiwan developers saw this as a downside: as the
Sternbergs note, Prospective residents of the country club area were wooed with the
1240n the residential and commercial development of Hiwan, see Sternberg
and Sternberg, Evergreen, pp. 213-219.
125Jefferson Land Associates bought out Buchanan family interests in the
Hiwan developments in 1966; Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 209.
offer of an irresistible world of access to everything and responsibility for nothing.126
To these buyers, Evergreen could be any other upper-middle-class Denver suburb,
albeit one in a striking Rocky Mountain setting.
As new residents poured into the area, one group of citizens turned to
Jefferson Countys past to bolster community identity.127 In January 1973, Canyon
Courier columnist and local historian Mary Helen Crain noted a growing interest in
forming an historical society in Evergreen. She observed that historical societies are
becoming more and more valuable as our pioneer past so easily slips away from us in
our present day progress.128 While the pressure of progress seems one likely
motivation for forming an historical society, the early 1970s also marked growing
enthusiasm for popular history nationwide. In particular, the approaching United
126Stemberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 216. The Sternbergs note, however,
that if existing Evergreen residents had cared enough about community identity and
controlling growth, they could have shouldered the burdens of time and cost
involved in incorporating as a city.
127Robert Archibald writes at length about the importance of historic places to
a persons sense of group identity and roots; see Archibald, Place to Remember, pp.
9-25, 147-154. Michael Wallace takes a somewhat more jaundiced view, noting that
much early historic preservation in the United States was motivated by the desire of
white elites in the Northeast and Old South to hold onto the remains of their past
cultural dominance; see Michael Wallace, Reflections on the History of Historic
Preservation, in Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public, eds. Susan
Porter Benson, Stephen Brier, and Roy Rosenzweig (Philadelphia: Temple
University Press, 1986), pp. 168-170.
128Mary Helen Crain, Chit-Chat, Canyon Courier, 4 January 1973, p. 18.
States bicentennial and Colorado centennial meant government and private entities
were directing money and attention to preservation projects.129
The High Jefferson County Historical Society, named for the altitude of its
area of interest, organized in the spring of 1973 to promote and preserve the history of
Jefferson Countys mountain region.130 Membership and leadership reflected both
longtime and new residents: Connie Fahnestock, who had just moved to Evergreen
from Long Island, was elected president, while vice president Hazel Humphrey had
grown up on a nearby ranch.131 Residents who had chosen a certain mountain
lifestyle, whether well in the past or quite recently, valued the areas history and
natural surroundings as the means to separate Evergreen from other Denver suburbs.
129Connie Fahnestock, first president of the Jefferson County Historical
Society, recently observed, Everybody loved history then. Connie Fahnestock, Fort
Collins. Colorado, interview with author, 20 October 2004. Colorado festivities are
chronicled in Colorado Centennial-Bicentennial Commission, Once in a Hundred:
The Final Report of the Colorado Centennial-Bicentennial Commission (Denver,
Colo.: CCBC, 1977); Hiwan Homestead Museum is mentioned on p. 163 as one of
Evergreens commemorative projects. National fervor for the Bicentennial, including
historic preservation projects, is described in Robert G. Hartje, Bicentennial USA:
Pathways to Celebration (Nashville, Tenn.: American Association for State and
Local History, 1973), pp. 18-31, 245-248.
130Mary Helen Crain, Area historical society gets under way, Canyon
Courier, 9 April 1973, pp. 12B-13B.
,31Hazel Humphrey, The Record of the Jefferson County Historical Society
1, no. 3 (May 1974): 1. Humphreys family home is now the Humphrey Memorial
Park and Museum. See History of the Humphrey House, located at
; accessed 17 November 2004.
The idea of saving an historic building and opening it as a museum and
society headquarters figured in early discussion of the historical society. Opening a
county history museum or historic house museum seemed an obvious first step for the
newly formed society, following a well-established pattern in Colorado and
nationwide.132 In May 1973, the societys board formed a committee to look for
suitable structures.133 Their search proved short-lived when an ideal candidate
emerged just two months later.
132In her column, Crain cited the Golden Pioneer Museum as an idea of
something we might do for our area; see Mary Helen Crain, Chit-Chat, Canyon
Courier, 22 March 1973, p. 8B. Society founders also visited with other regional
historical societies that owned and operated historic house museums, such as the
Hamill House in Georgetown; see Minutes of the Jefferson County Historical Society,
21 February 1973, Papers of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Evergreen,
Colorado (hereafter known as JCHS Archives), pp. 1-2.
I33Minutes of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 23 May 1973, JCHS
Archives, pp. 2-3.
Hiwan Homestead and Jefferson County Open Space
What a pity if through lack of initiative, leadership and dollars, the
lovely old building someday had to be razed.134
Owen K. Ball, Canyon Courier (1973)
While most of the Hiwan ranch holdings had experienced development by the
early 1970s, the historic homestead and grounds remained in the Buchanan family.
Joan Landy, daughter of Darst and Ruth Buchanan, had raised her family in the home
for a decade. After her children had grown, Landy sought a buyer for the 17-room
structure.135 In July 1973, she sold the house and the surrounding 20 acres to
developer George Hurst of Hurst Realty.136 Hurst planned an upscale townhouse
development for the land, but fortunately for preservationists, he demonstrated some
sensitivity to the historic importance of the Hiwan Homestead.137 On the day the
1340wen K. Ball, Ball Points, Canyon Courier, 16 August 1973, p. 1.
135Stemberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 215, and Fahnestock, From Camp
Neosho, p. 41.
l36Hiwan Homestead is sold, Canyon Courier, 5 July 1973, p. 1 A.
137The Sternbergs characterize George and his wife, Betty, as sincerely
interested in historical buildings; see Sternberg and Sternberg, Evergreen, p. 215.
Present Hiwan Homestead Museum director John Steinle agrees that the community
was lucky Hurst bought it. John Steinle, Hiwan Homestead, Evergreen, Colorado,
interview with author, 3 September 2004. Betty Hurst served on the board of the
Jefferson County Historical Society and chaired the grand opening of the Hiwan
Homestead Museum in 1975; see Homestead could be operating programs by fall,
Canyon Courier, 5 June 1975, p. 20, and Homestead opening, Canyon Courier, 26
June 1975, p. 14.
purchase became pubiic, Hurst announced that 'as the property has been a landmark
for many years and is close to the hearts of many Evergreeners, constructive
comments as to the Homesteads use are welcome.138
The newly formed historical society did not hesitate to take up Hursts
invitation, swinging into action with fundraisers to Save the Homestead. Through
the rest of the summer and fall, the society organized movie nights, art and antique
sales, and membership drives.139 In an August 16 editorial, Canyon Courier editor
Owen K. Ball called on readers to donate fifty dollars each to the fund to buy the
homestead. As reported by the Courier two weeks later, one of the first donations
came from Mr. and Mrs. George Hurst.140 Hurst seemed sincere, but he was also
138Hiwan sold, p. 1 A. Of course, these constructive comments needed
funding to back them up, since Hurst had not offered to donate the house to the
county or historical society.
139Fahnestock, interview with author; Sally Bell, Hiwans Homestead opens
sumptuous doors, Golden Daily Transcript, 13 September 1973, p. 1; Art Show this
Saturday at The Hiwan Homestead, Canyon Courier, 13 September 1973, p. 1A;
Historical Society holds reception at Homestead, Canyon Courier, 20 September
1973, p. 20B; Welcome to Homestead, Canyon Courier, 27 September 1973, p. 2A;
Gift Show, Canyon Courier, 25 October 1973, p. 15A; Antique and gift show sale
at Homestead this Saturday, Canyon Courier 8 November 1973, p. 16A; Historical
Society seeks charter memberships, Golden Daily Transcript, 13 December 1973,
140Owen K. Ball, Ball Points, Canyon Courier, 16 August 1973, p. 1A, and
photo caption, Canyon Courier, 30 August 1973, p. 9A.
savvy: stirring up community goodwill might help his townhouse development avoid
some of the controversy Hiwan Village had generated.
Despite their enthusiasm, historical society members knew friendly
fundraisers could not generate enough money to meet Hursts likely price.141 Indeed,
by November 1973, the Save the Homestead fund totaled a mere $379.14.142 The
society would have to bring in other partners to secure real funding, starting with
Jefferson County. In the autumn of 1973, the society made several definitive moves,
starting with a name change. Dropping High, the group became the Jefferson
County Historical Society (JCHS), aiming to project the image of a countywide
organization that could generate financial support at the county level. The society
brought in county planning officials and commissioners Bob Clement and Hal
Anderson to tour the homestead, hoping to spur interest in Jefferson County
purchasing the site.143
141In a recent interview, Connie Fahnestock acknowledged, We knew there
was no way we were going to raise $145,000 ourselves. Fahnestock, interview with
142Minutes of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 13 November 1973,
JCHS Archives, p. 1.
143Minutes of the Jefferson County Historical Society, 23 August 1973, JCHS
Archives, pp. 1-2; Senior Citizens to tour Hiwan Homestead, Canyon Courier, 30
August 1973, p. 2A; Club Agenda: Historical Society, Canyon Courier, 4 October
1973, p. 12A.
At some point during the fall of 1973, society members realized that the
resolution authorizing open space included a reference to historic monuments.144
Revenues collected under the open space sales tax could provide the quick funding
JCHS needed to save Hiwan Homestead. JCHS members jumped at this opportunity,
attending OSAC citizen panel and commissioner meetings throughout the fall and
winter, lobbying for the county to purchase the homestead with open space funds.145
At this time, Jefferson County officials had yet to set guidelines as to the
operation of their new open space program. The county had just purchased its first
parcel of land under open space on August 14, along the Hogback near Morrison.146
As county commissioners and OSAC debated whether to hire an administrator for the
program, revenues quickly added up. By the end of the following year, 1974, sales
144Joumal of Commissioners, 26 September 1972, p. 120; see Appendix C.
Fahnestock could not be sure who first realized the potential of open space funding,
but recalled someone from OSAC contacted her to point it out. Fahnestock, interview
with author. Minutes of early JCHS meetings indicate interest in working with PLAN
Jeffco, but no specific reference to open space funding. See Minutes of JCHS, 21
February 1973, p. 3, and 23 August 1973, p. 2.
145As Fahnestock recalled recently, We turned into a regular PAC outfit.
Fahnestock, interview with author; Minutes of JCHS, 13 November 1973, p. 2;
Unofficial Record of the Proceedings of the Open Space Advisory Committee, 25
September 1973, Records of Jefferson County Open Space (hereafter known as JCOS
Archives), Golden, Colorado, p. 2, photocopied; Journal of the Commissioners of
Jefferson County, Colorado, 7 January 1974, Records of the Jefferson County Clerk
to the Board, Golden, Colorado, Book BB, p. 217, microfilm.
146County buys first tract of open space, Canyon Courier, 23 August 1973,
tax revenue was expected to top $4.5 million becoming, in the words of the
Lakewood Sentinel, big business.147
Where money flowed, opinions followed. Various constituencies in Jefferson
County weighed in on open space issues, but mountain-area residents proved the most
vocal and best organized in the early days of the program. In September 1973,
citizens formed the Mountain Area Open Space Advisory Committee (MAOSAC) to
advocate for open space purchases in the Evergreen area. Basically, MAOSAC
existed to lobby the countywide advisory committee, OS AC. The group included
representatives of mountain growth-control watchdogs such as POME and MAPC, as
well as the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce and JCHS. Despite a diversity of
priorities, these groups could agree on one thing: the need to counteract, in the words
I47Open space program big business; $4.5 million expected by year end,
Lakewood Sentinel, 11 July 1974, p. 18.
of Canyon Courier editor Owen K. Ball, pressures on OSAC from the politically
The question of where Jefferson County Open Space should purchase land
drove groups like MAOSAC. Hiwan Homestead raised a whole new set of questions.
After OSAC member Mike Moore proposed the Hiwan property for purchase at the
groups October 1973 meeting, two issues surfaced.149 The first whether Hiwan
Homestead qualified as an historic site would be addressed promptly with a listing
on the National Register of Historic Places. JCHS had already begun the nomination
148Area group proposed to advise on OS sites, Canyon Courier, 6 September
1973, pp. 1A, 16A; Owen K. Ball, Lets work on open space, Canyon Courier, 13
September 1973, p. 4A; Open Space group adopts rules, Canyon Courier, 11
October 1973, p. 13A. The flatlanders, of course, often complained that the mountain
area got more than its fair share of attention from OSAC and the Open Space
program. Resentment among flatlanders toward their mountain neighbors continued
to find a target in the Open Space program. In 1988, for example, a
Lakewood/Jefferson Sentinel editorial argued that Jefferson County Open Space was
created by mountain residents to preserve their rural lifestyle at the expense of
flatlanders, who contributed a larger share of the sales tax; see Once again, we pay
the bill, Lakewood/Jefferson Sentinel, 29 December 1988, p. 12. Carol Karlin,
PLAN Jeffco founder, responded in a guest editorial that most of the original
organizers were not mountain residents out to enhance their property values, but
rather were concerned citizens from throughout the county who believed significant
open space acquisitions in any part of the county would benefit all residents; see
Carol Karlin, Open Space serves real purpose, Lakewood/Jefferson Sentinel, 13
April 1989, p. 15.
I49Club Agenda, Canyon Courier, p. 12A; Unofficial Record of Proceedings
of the Open Space Advisory Committee, 4 October 1973, JCOS Archives, p. 6,
process, and the National Park Service would approve the application in April
The second issue raised by Hiwan Homestead whether open space could
contain human-made structures proved much thornier than the first. The original
proponents of open space in Jefferson County had envisioned preservation of
undeveloped, natural landscapes. Yet, among the first parcels considered for the
newly created open space program, two featured historic structures: Hiwan
Homestead and the Homewood Park property in Deer Creek Canyon, which included
a lodge and ice-skating pond.150 151 Jefferson County Open Space operated under the
guidelines of the resolution approved by commissioners in September 1972 and
passed by voters that November.152 The resolution text made mention of historical
monuments, but how far Jefferson County Open Space could extend this provision
remained more a philosophical than a legal question. County attorneys could provide
guidance, but OSAC and county commissioners would have to define the terms
150Minutes of JCHS, 23 August 1973, p. 1; National Register Nomination,
Hiwan Homestead, pp. 1-4; Hiwan Homestead a national site, Canyon Courier, 25
April 1974, p. 1 A.
151Two sites in area considered for open space, Canyon Courier, 4 October
1973, p. 1A, 16A; Homewood Park proposal raises Open Space questions, Canyon
Courier, 11 October 1973, p. 20A; OSAC Proceedings, 25 September 1973, pp. 1, 2.
152See Appendix C.
Community groups realized the importance of early purchases in setting the
direction of open space. The historic preservationists of JCHS hoped for a continuing
partnership with Jefferson County Open Space and other conservation activists. On
the other hand, more environmentally oriented member organizations in MAOS AC
worried about the implications of purchasing properties such as Hiwan Homestead
and Homewood Park. The Canyon Courier reported that while some MAOSAC
members supported such purchases, others [felt] open space land shouldnt have any
improvements at all.153 In these early days of open space, supporters had yet to
discover just how many potential sites would contain, at the very least, roads, fences,
and ranch buildings.
Of the two developed sites in question, Hiwan Homestead provoked the
strongest reactions. The purchase had the potential of dramatically expanding
Jefferson County Open Spaces involvement in historic preservation. With Hurst
offering less than an acre of property with the homestead, Jefferson County would
acquire essentially a house and a lot, rather than a large parcel with some scattered
153Area Open Space group to discuss possible sites, Canyon Courier, 25
October 1973, p. 15A.
structures.154 Many open space supporters felt such a purchase strayed too far from
their original intent. As MAOSAC developed its list of priorities to submit to OSAC,
Hiwan dropped to the bottom of the list.155 Lane Kirkpatrick, president of
Evergreens local Audubon Society chapter, expressed the dissenting opinion in a
letter to the editor in a November 1973 Canyon Courier:
I think most of us feel a museum ... and many other activities in
Evergreen are needed for a more enriched community ... [However,]
in reading the fine print of the referendum, it seems clear that the
guidelines in the overall context call for acquiring true, relatively
undeveloped open space; so, we should be concerned that certain
minor references in the guidelines pertaining to historical and
recreational uses are not amplified out of proportion so as to defeat the
overriding intent of the fund.156
Whether historic preservation would prove a minor reference or a priority for
Jefferson County Open Space would be determined in large part by a decision on
154JCHS, with the assistance of Jefferson County Open Space, added to the
open acreage around Hiwan Homestead Museum in 1977 with the purchase of the
three-acre Heritage Grove, saving the parcel from development. See Fahnestock,
From Camp Neosho, pp. 43-44; Rites scheduled in purchase of Heritage Grove,
Denver Post, 21 July 1977, p. 22; Residents save Evergreen grove, Rocky Mountain
News, 15 July 1977, p. 8.
155Kinneys Peak pushed as Open Space site, Canyon Courier, 31 January
1974, p. 1 A.
156Lane Kirkpatrick, Letter to the Editor, Canyon Courier, 22 November 1973,
While JCHS awaited a decision from OSAC and the commissioners, Hurst
moved ahead with his development at Hiwan. In November, he submitted plans to
the county for Timbervale at Evergreen, a 37-unit condominium complex. The
development featured a design by Everett Zeigel Architects of Boulder with
clustering of the condominium units to preserve (private) open space and natural
features. The plans passed quickly through the county bureaucracy, winning the
approval of the planning commission and the commissioners by January 1974.157
Hurst hoped for an equally prompt decision on the homestead parcel, but the search
for an open space administrator and development of an interim plan had distracted
attention from Hiwan.158 When the commissioners objected to the potential use of the
homestead building as a professional office, Hursts architect Alan Zeigel reminded
them that while the developers wished the county would hurry up and buy the house,
they also want to keep their options open if the purchase doesnt go through.159
157County gets Hiwan Homestead plans, Canyon Courier, 8 November
1973, pp. 1 A; Homestead townhouses approved, Canyon Courier, 22 November
1973, p. 2A; Homestead project approved, Lakewood Sentinel, 10 January 1974, p.
158County wide open space plan sought, Canyon Courier, 25 October 1973,
p. 20A; Open Space group to consider plan outlining its priorities, Canyon Courier,
17 January 1974, p. 4A
159Homestead townhouses approved, Canyon Courier, p. 2A.
Clearly, Hursts patience would not extend indefinitely. In January, OSAC
received an offer from Hurst, with an asking price of $145,000 for the homestead and
nine-tenths acre of surrounding land, plus an additional building for $15,000 more.160
OSAC took a tentative step in recommending an appraisal of the property, which the
commissioners approved by February.161 Authorizing an appraisal did not commit the
county to a purchase, but the process of saving Hiwan Homestead was finally under
160Unofficial Record of Proceedings of the Open Space Advisory Committee,
8 January 1974, JCOS Archives, pp. 2-3, photocopied; Open Space group to
consider, Canyon Courier, p. 4A.
161Unofficial Record of Proceedings of the Open Space Advisory Committee,
19 February 1974, JCOS Archives, Resolution #5-74, Hiwan Homestead, pp. 6-7,
photocopied; Journal of the Commissioners of Jefferson County, Colorado, 28
January 1974, Records of the Jefferson County Clerk to the Board, Book BB, p. 258,
microfilm; County requests Hiwan Homestead appraisal, Canyon Courier, 7
February 1974, p. 16A.
Setting a Precedent
You just see too much of this stuff disappearing around the county.
We have to take some steps to keep it. .. [Besides,] I dont think there
are that many historical buildings left.162
Bob Clement, Jefferson County Commissioner (1972)
While the future of Hiwan Homestead rested in the hands of the Jefferson
County commissioners, the countys historical society kept busy throughout the
spring of 1974. The organization held its first annual banquet at historic Pine Valley
Ranch, completed the first phase of a county wide historic site survey for the State
Historical Society, and brainstormed suggestions for the potential use of Hiwan
Homestead.163 Hopes continued to run high even as summer arrived without word
from the county. Finally, on July 22, 1974, the commissioners approved the purchase
of Hiwan Homestead with $125,000 of open space funds. As Commissioner Bob
Clement noted in several newspaper accounts, the purchase price fell significantly
below Hursts asking price and the appraised value of the property.164
162Susan Townsend, Homestead buy surprises JCOSAC, Canyon Courier, 8
August 1974, p. 14.
mThe Record (JCHS), May 1974, pp. 1-2.
164Joumal of the Commissioners of Jefferson County, Colorado, 22 July 1974,
Records of the Jefferson County Clerk to the Board, Book CC, pp. 50-51, microfilm;
Hiwan Homestead bought for museum, Denver Post, 24 July 1974, p. 3; Susan
Townsend, Homestead gets nod for open space purchase, Canyon Courier, 25 July
1974, p. 1; Homestead purchased, Lakewood Sentinel, 25 July 1974, p. 24.
Despite the months-long delay after the approval of the appraisal, the Hiwan
Homestead purchase generated a few surprised reactions. OSAC members had
assumed the commissioners would allow them to review the appraisal before taking
any action.165 In the Canyon Courier, one anonymous OSAC member claimed many
on the committee felt purchasing the Hiwan Homestead went beyond the intentions of
the open space resolution.166 If true, these dissenters kept silent as OSAC passed its
appraisal recommendation, which clearly states that the property falls within the
parameters of the open space mandate.167 For those concerned about Jefferson
County Open Space getting into the historic preservation business, Commissioner
Clement reassured Canyon Courier readers that he doubts seriously if the county
165Such reactions were a sign of the growing power struggle between OSAC
and the commissioners. In February, the commissioners and the county attorney had
determined that OSAC was not authorized to solicit offers and to prepare contracts;
that it is the function of the Board of County Commissioners. OSAC was
authorized to obtain appraisals only. See Journal of the Commissioners of Jefferson
County, Colorado, 5 February 1974, Records of the Jefferson County Clerk to the
Board, Book BB, p. 266, microfilm.
166Townsend, Homestead buy, p. 14.
167OSAC Resolution #5-74, states, The Jefferson County Open Space
Advisory Committee by a majority vote of the members present on January 17, 1974,
did find that the Hiwan Homestead proposal presented that date is within the general
purposes and intent of the Jefferson County Open Space Advisory Plan, as adopted,
and the Board of County Commissioners for Jefferson County resolution dated
September 26, 1972. See OSAC Proceedings, 19 February 1974, p. 7.
will go into many more historical buildings and said I dont think there are that many
historical buildings left.168
Those already in the historic preservation business greeted the Hiwan
purchase enthusiastically. In its October newsletter, JCHS proclaimed, Our
gratitude goes to the progressive and knowledgeable Open Space group and County
Commissioners who made this whole thing possible. This type of action is
responsible for the saving of our historic as well as our natural heritage.169 JCHS
members began work immediately on developing a partnership with the county to
open Hiwan Homestead as a museum. In May 1975, Jefferson County Open Space
hired Connie Fahnestock, former president of JCHS, as executive director of Hiwan
Homestead. Fahnestock would work for the open space department and be
responsible for all interior operations, while a caretaker hired by the department
would care for the buildings exterior and grounds.170
l68Townsend, Homestead buy, p. 14.
169Thank Heavens, The Record of the Jefferson County Historical Society 2,
no. 1 (October 1974): 1.
I70Homestead chief sought, Canyon Courier, 13 March 1975, p. 1; Connie
Fahnestock named Hiwan Homestead director, Canyon Courier, 8 May 1975, p. 9.
As Fahnestock remarked in a recent interview, as Hiwan director she answered to
Jefferson County Open Space, the board of the JCHS, and the newly formed Jefferson
County Historical Commission. Despite this challenge, she remained in the position
until retiring in 1989 and retains fond memories of her time at Hiwan. Fahnestock,
interview with author.
The rest of the work in opening and running a museum exhibits,
programming, interior restoration, collections development and preservation fell to
the JCHS board and volunteers. The society chose to approach the structure as both a
house museum, with interpretation of the Williams-Douglas and Buchanan families,
and as an historical museum for Jefferson County, with changing exhibits and
educational programs. Early efforts focused in particular on developing school
programs, an essential step in becoming the county wide resource expected of a
Jefferson County Open Space acquisition.171
Setting priorities proved crucial due to the short time frame under which
Fahnestock, the open space department, and JCHS members were working. The
Jefferson County Centennial-Bicentennial Commission had chosen Hiwan
Homestead as the countys official heritage project, with the hope that the museum
would be ready to launch the year-long celebration in the summer of 1975.172
Fortunately, the building itself needed only minor alterations for public access,
I71For details of the preparations for Hiwan Homesteads opening, see Hiwan
Homestead will be part of 76 celebration, Golden Daily Transcript, 3 June 1975, p.
3; Homestead could be operating programs by fall, Canyon Courier, 5 June 1975,
p. 20; Field representative visits Jeffco historical society, Canyon Courier, 26 June
1975; The Record (JCHS), October 1974, pp. 1, 3; The Record of the Jefferson
County Historical Society 2, no. 2 (March 1975): 1, 4.
172Hiwan part of 76 celebration, p. 3.
although more extensive restoration issues would later come to light.173 JCHS
furnished period rooms with loaned furniture for the opening, although Joan Landy
had donated a dining room table and chairs that had been left in the house by the
Douglas family. In another stroke of good fortune, Canon Douglass sister, Julia, had
donated many Native American artifacts to the Evergreen Library, which lent them
for display at Hiwan.174
The Hiwan Homestead started its new life as a museum on Sunday, August 3,
1975. Capping off the August 1 Colorado Day weekend festivities, the museum
opened with hundreds in attendance.175 Despite the disagreements that had dogged
the preservation of Hiwan Homestead as a Jefferson County Open Space property, the
173Fahnestock, interview with author. In the 1980s, maintenance workers
discovered that a section of the roof near the porte-cochere had sustained heavy water
damage. The roof was repaired and non-original asphalt shingles were replaced with
sawn cedar. The structure also underwent log restoration and stabilization in the early
1990s, and recent HVAC work to improve temperature and humidity control. Charles
Hudson and Dennis Faulkner, Jefferson County Open Space, Evergreen, Colorado,
interview with author, 8 October 2004.
174On the artifacts displayed during the opening, see The Record (JCHS),
March 1975, p. 3; The Record of the Jefferson County Historical Society 2, no. 3
(August 1975): 1; Fahnestock, interview with author.
175In its August 1975 newsletter, JCHS estimated an attendance of 800. For
descriptions of the grand opening, see The Record (JCHS), August 1975, p.l;
Homestead opening, Canyon Courier, 26 June 1975, p. 14; Music, crafts, games:
museum opening events, Canyon Courier, 31 July 1975, p. 46, photographs pp. 3,
14; Homestead opening draws large crowd, Canyon Courier, 1 August 1975, p. 7,
photographs pp. 8, 21. Additional details, Fahnestock, interview with author.
new museum received a warm welcome from the community, and its first visitors
received one in return. Following a Boy Scout troop flag ceremony and ribbon
cutting, attendees took part in craft demonstrations, storytelling, bluegrass and
barbershop music, cookies and punch, and jam making in the restored 1930s kitchen.
For JCHS members, the celebration was especially sweet; as member Jeanne Anne
Vanderhoef concluded, It was a glorious day!176
The opening of Hiwan Homestead Museum pleased historic preservationists
and community members, but the acquisition did little to resolve issues surrounding
the purpose and direction of Jefferson County Open Space. Just a month after
commissioners announced the Hiwan purchase, local residents packed a public
meeting on open space at Evergreen High School. Members of MAOS AC and others
sharply criticized the open space department and OSAC for neglecting mountain-area
priorities. As one angry citizen put it, We have between 15[,000] and 20,000
people in the area and the people would like more than a house an obvious
y76The Record (JCHS), August 1975, p. 1.
reference to Hiwan Homestead.177 Intra-county feuds continued between flatlanders
and mountain residents, cities and unincorporated areas, each side arguing that the
other was receiving more than their fair share of attention and investment from
Jefferson County Open Space.178 Internal disputes flared between the county
commissioners and OSAC, prompting one political candidate to claim that the
commissioners were out to emasculate the citizen advisory committee.179
For the future of Jefferson County Open Space, and particularly the historic
structures in its care, the source of greatest division remained in the very definition of
open space. Many activists saw the purpose of the program as protecting
undeveloped land from extensive human impact, aside from passive recreation uses
177John Fellows, Lively debate marks meeting for citizens, open space
group, Canyon Courier, 22 August 1974, p. 8. This contentious meeting may have
been the last straw for open space director Robert Kroening, who resigned one week
later. Although Kroening had enjoyed a successful career as an engineer and planner,
the job of open space director clearly called for political rather than professional
expertise. See Open space director resigns! Canyon Courier, 29 August 1974, p.
31. Interestingly, MAOS ACs chairman, Lindon Wood, barely outlasted Kroening,
resigning at the end of October 1974. The groups influence seems to have waned
quickly after that point, and MAOS AC drops out of sight by the following year. See
John Fellows, MAOSAC left leaderless as Wood resigns from post, 31 October
1974, Canyon Courier, p. 8.
178John Fellows, The mountains, flatlands will open space work? Canyon
Courier, 26 September 1974, p. 36; Open space program big business, Lakewood
Sentinel, p. 18.
179Paterson assails officials, defends open space group, Canyon Courier, 22
August 1974, p. 44.
for the public. Others envisioned open space funding as a tool to meet the active
recreation demands of the growing county, constructing ballfields and marinas as well
as hiking trails.
In the midst of these extremes rested historic structures such as Hiwan
Homestead. On the one hand, they could be seen as integral to the rural landscapes of
Jefferson County that open space advocates sought to protect. On the other, each
acquisition of an historic building committed open space funds to ongoing
maintenance and stabilization, and possibly planning and restoration for public use.
By the mid-1980s, when citizens grew increasingly concerned with the direction of
Jefferson County Open Space, expenditures for anything other than land purchase
came under intense scrutiny. This fight over the definition of open space threatened
to harden the positions of environmentalists and historic preservationists, endangering
the spirit of compromise shown in the Hiwan Homestead purchase.
DEFINING OPEN SPACE IN JEFFERSON COUNTY
Looking back on it, I dont suppose most people gave much thought to
the difference between open space and parks.180
Carol Karlin, PLAN Jeffco founder (1997)
The election of 1980 proved to be nearly as pivotal to Jefferson County Open
Space as had the election of 1972. Voters faced three ballot measures that would
radically alter the operations of the Open Space department. While these measures
originated over issues of finance and city-versus-county rivalries, they raised
profound questions for the definition and mission of open space preservation, ones
not anticipated by the programs original creators.
The 1980 ballot measures resulted from a deal struck between the county
commissioners and four local municipalities. The cities Edgewater, Lakewood,
Arvada, and Westminster had lost a court battle with Jefferson County Open Space
in September 1980 to change the funds allocation formula, which sent one-third of
sales tax proceeds to incorporated jurisdictions and left the remaining two-thirds for
180Gary Gerhardt, Fighting to save the land: Lakewood woman led Jeffco
Open Space drive, Rocky Mountain News, 31 August 1997, pp. 66A.
expenditure in unincorporated areas of the county.181 In addition to a larger slice of
open space revenue, the cities had also fought for greater control over expenditures.
Because little undeveloped land existed within their boundaries, the municipalities
argued, they should be allowed to use their share of funds for maintenance and
improvement of existing parks rather than exclusively for acquisition.182
Meanwhile, the county commissioners were eyeing open space revenue as a
potential solution to a fiscal crisis. Inmate lawsuits had led to a court order
demanding Jefferson County construct a new jail. Confident that voters would prefer
raiding Open Space department monies to facing a new mill levy, commissioners
placed a measure on the November 1980 ballot to divert half of the sales tax for a
new county jail. In exchange for their support of the jail measure, the cities would
receive the commissioners support for ballot measures to change the open space
allocation formula and to enable the use of open space funds for park maintenance
181 As of 2004, the distribution of Jefferson County population was roughly the
opposite of the Open Space fund allocation: one-third of residents in unincorporated
areas, two-thirds in incorporated cities. Unincorporated Jefferson County Population
Estimates, located at
demographics/unincorporated/u-pop-est.htm>; accessed 11 November 2004.
1824 towns lose battle on open-space tax, Rocky Mountain News, 11
September 1980, p. 60; Julie Ewing, Flyer irks park fund raiders,
Lakewood/Jefferson Sentinel, 21 August 1980, p. 3.
1834 towns, p. 60; Tina Scheele, Open Space tax split fails, (Golden)
Colorado Transcript, 6 November 1980, p. 1.
PLAN Jeffco, the citizens group that had initiated the drive for open space
eight years before, brought all its resources to bear against the three ballot measures,
even taking the commissioners to court over their use of county funds to promote the
jail issue. The commissioners remained confident, however, that tax-averse Jefferson
County residents would opt in their favor. When fifty-four percent of voters rejected
the jail issue, commissioners responded with shock and confusion. Commissioner
Jim Martin admitted he was baffled by the results and concluded, You just cant
put together a rational issue (a new jail) with an emotional one (Open Space).184
PLAN Jeffco did not win all its battles, however. While voters turned down a
new allocation formula (for the second time in two years), they approved by a wide
margin the use of open space monies for maintenance and development.185 The
amendment added wording to the original 1972 open space resolution that allowed
expenditure of sales tax proceeds for constructing, acquiring, and maintaining park
and recreational capital improvements.186 The measures opponents took the loss in
stride: PLAN Jeffcos Margot Zallen considered the maintenance and development
184Scheele, Split fails, p. 2; parenthetical comments appear in the article.
l85Sixty percent of voters supported the maintenance and development
amendment. Scheele, Split fails, p. 2.
186Jefferson County, Colorado, Resolution No. CC80-711, Amendment of the
Jefferson County Sales Tax Resolution, 29 September 1980.
measure the least detrimental of the three and possibly constructive over the long
In contrast to the grudging acceptance of PLAN Jeffco, the Jefferson County
Historical Society and Hiwan Homestead Museum staff welcomed the news of the
amendment. Although the Hiwan property had been purchased with Jefferson County
Open Space funds, money for ongoing operation and maintenance of the museum had
come from the countys general fund. Such an arrangement reflected a prevailing
interpretation of the original 1972 resolution that precluded use of open space funds
for maintenance of buildings. The new amendment, with its wording about
maintenance and development, seemed to loosen these restrictions and allow the
Jefferson County Open Space program with its dedicated revenue stream to take
over maintenance and physical operations of the museum.188
Facing a $4 million shortfall in the county budget, plus requesting a new mill
levy for the jail, the commissioners were more than happy to make Jefferson County
Open Space responsible for funding the Hiwan Homestead Museum beginning in
187Scheele, Split fails, p. 2. The League of Women Voters had also opposed
the 1980 amendment for development and maintenance spending; see Jeffco Open
Space, 1973-1984 (Lakewood, Colo.: League of Women Voters of Jefferson County,
1984), p. 1.
188This line of reasoning for the transfer of Hiwan from the general fund to the
open space department is summarized in: Workshop OSAC Sub-committee and
Evergreen Metropolitan Recreation and Park District, Hiwan/Alderfer Ranch, 1 June
1989, Hiwan Homestead Museum files, Evergreen, Colo., p. 1, photocopied. The
Jefferson County Historical Society continued to provide programming and to own
the artifacts in the museums collection.
1981.189 But the transfer included more than Hiwan; Jefferson County Open Space
was about to get into the historic preservation business in an even bigger way, this
time with a 10,000-square-foot mansion associated with one of Colorados richest
Adaptive Reuse of Boettcher Mansion
The Boettcher family lodge on Lookout Mountain ... may be more of
a white elephant than a boon.190
Golden Daily Transcript (1971)
Unlike the Hiwan Homestead, which Jefferson County had saved thanks to an
outpouring of community support, the Boettcher Mansion had come as an unexpected
and somewhat unwelcome gift from the descendants of Charles Boettcher. A German
immigrant who parlayed a Leadville hardware business into a cement and sugar beet
empire, Boettcher commissioned a lavish hunting lodge for himself atop Jefferson
189Terry Green, comptroller, to Ray Printz, open space director, TDS, 8
January 1981, Hiwan Homestead Museum files, Evergreen, Colo. On 1981 budget
woes, see Debbie Jones, Cuts expected despite tax increase, Canyon Courier, 12
November 1980, p. 3; Tina Scheele, Budget appropriations to be reconsidered in
Jan., (Golden) Colorado Transcript, 23 December 1980, p. 1; Julie Ewing,
Agencies, programs in dark on 81 budget, Lakewood Sentinel, 25 December 1980,
190Georgina Brown, What to do with mansion? (Golden) Daily Transcript, 3
September 1971, p. 1.
County's Lookout Mountain in 1917.191 Brothers William E. and Arthur A. Fisher,
among Colorados most prominent and prolific architects,192 incorporated local
materials of wood and stone in a mix of Tudor and Craftsman styles.193 The result,
l9,For a full account of the historical and architectural significance of the
Boettcher Mansion, see Lorraine Lodge: A History of the Boettcher Mansion
(Golden, Colo.: Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, 2001). For brief
descriptions of the buildings history and architecture, see Thomas J. Noel, Buildings
of Colorado (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 156; National Register
of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, Lorraine Lodge (Charles Boettcher
Summer Home) (Evergreen, Colo.: Jefferson County Conference and Nature Center,
192The Fisher brothers legacy endures in some of the most treasured structures
in Colorado. The Colorado Historical Society reports that the National Register of
Historic Places has recognized more than three-fourths of Fisher and Fishers extant
work, either individually or within an historic district. Colorado Architects
Biographical Sketch: William Ellsworth Fisher, Arthur Addison Fisher, Alan Bemey
Fisher (Denver, Colo.: Colorado Historical Society, Office of Archaeology and
Historic Preservation, n.d.), p. 2, located at
oahp.org/guides/architects/fisher.pdf>; accessed 25 March 2005.
mLorraine Lodge: A History, pp. 25-26. Newspaper accounts identified the
structures architectural style as anything from an American interpretation and
adaptation of the Japanese (Reginald Poland, Artistic Expression in Denver,
Municipal Facts, September 1920, p. 6) to Bavarian-style (Jeffco commission
ponders use of Boettcher property, Rocky Mountain News, 3 September 1971, p. 14).
Recent surveys have evaluated the architectural features of the mansion in light of the
Arts and Crafts movement. See Architectural Assessment: Boettcher Mansion
(Georgetown, Colo.: Long Hoeft Architects, 2001), p. 4, and Historic Structure
Assessment: Historic Boettcher Mansion (Denver, Colo.: Hoehn Architects P.C.,
2003), p. 3. As historian Cathleen Norman notes, the Fishers use of native stone and
wood reflects the Rustic style used by the National Park Service during the Arts and
Crafts period; see Cathleen M. Norman, Preliminary Historic Contexts, 1999-2000
Cultural Resource Survey of Unincorporated Jefferson County (Golden, Colo.:
Jefferson County Historical Commission, 2000), p. 63. For an illustrated description
of the Craftsman style, see Virginia McAlester and Lee McAlester, A Field Guide to
American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), pp. 452-463.
christened Lorraine Lodge, earned accolades from Denvers society press as one of
the finest summer mountain retreats of the local elite.194
In 1968, Charles Boettchers granddaughter Charlene Humphreys Breeden,
who had lived in the Lookout Mountain mansion with her family, decided to donate
the 100-plus-acre property to Jefferson County.195 Breeden, in failing health due to
cancer, asked the county to keep the transaction private until her death. The transfer,
transacted without any public announcement, placed conditions on the countys use of
194See Poland, Artistic Expression in Denver, pp. 6, 11; photograph caption,
Municipal Facts, May-June-July 1926, p. 16; Helen Black, Living in the Clouds: A
Few Outstanding Examples of Homes Prominent Coloradoans are Building to Match
the Majesty of the Mountains, Modes and Manners (The Denver Dry Goods Co.),
June-July 1928, pp. 8-9. The source of the name Lorraine Lodge remains a
mystery; Cynthia Shaw McLaughlin, e-mail to author, 1 April 2005.
195The Boettcher family had set a precedent of donating property in 1956,
when Claude Boettcher, son of Charles and uncle of Charlene Breeden, donated his
Denver mansion (known as the Cheesman-Evans-Boettcher Mansion) to the state as
the Colorado Governors Mansion. See Noel, Buildings of Colorado, p. 75.
That said property hereby conveyed shall forthwith be set apart,
dedicated, treated and maintained by the Board of County
Commissioners of Jefferson County exclusively as a public park,
public library and museum site and public recreation place for the
benefit of the general public.196
If Jefferson County failed to meet these requirements, the property would revert to the
Breeden heirs. The deed also barred the county from selling the property or its
When news leaked out about the transaction in September 1971, local
newspapers immediately recognized the challenge the commissioners faced in
meeting the stipulations of the deed while finding a way to reuse the fifty-four-year-
old mansion. The Breeden family had not lived in the Boettcher Mansion regularly
for some time (unlike the continuously occupied Hiwan Homestead). The Golden
Daily Transcript reported that basic repairs to the neglected building would cost the
county approximately $100,000.197 Caught off guard by the news leak, the
196Jefferson County, Colorado, Clerk and Recorder, Reception No. 309210,
Deed, Charline H. Breeden to The County of Jefferson, Colorado, 27 December
1968. While the county made no public announcement at the time of the transfer and
the press did not pick up on the story at the time, the deed was registered in the public
record. When the news became public in 1971, one year before Charlene Breedens
death, the Golden Daily Transcript reported from anonymous sources that the
Breedens had tried to take back the mansion from the county in 1970 in exchange for
more land, but the county balked over the legalities of such a transaction. See Brown,
What to do? p. 1.
I97Brown, What to do? p. 1.
commissioners stalled: "Were going to take our time deciding what to do with it,
Commissioner Jack Trezise told the Rocky Mountain News'98
By 1974, the commissioners developed a partnership with the countys
agricultural extension office of Colorado State University (CSU) to use the facility as
a nature and conference center. CSU built trails around the property and developed
nature exhibits in the mansions former upstairs bedrooms. The county made
necessary repairs to the building, but the emphasis lay in adaptive reuse of the
building rather than any historical restoration. Fortunately for future preservation
efforts, the conversion of the mansion to an event facility involved few major
structural changes, aside from remodeling the former back entry into the main entry
from the parking lot. Newly rechristened the Jefferson County Conference and
Nature Center (JCCNC), the mansion opened its doors to the public on May 17,1975
-just three months before the Hiwan Homestead Museum grand opening.98 199
The JCCNC and Hiwan Homestead remained under direct commissioner
control for more than five years. On January 1, 1981, both properties officially
l98Jeffco ponders use, p. 14.
199National Register Nomination, Lorraine Lodge, p. 7-4; Historic Structure
Assessment, Boettcher Mansion, Hoehn Architects, p. 11; Architectural Assessment,
Boettcher Mansion, Long Hoeft Architects, p. 4; Breeden mansion open this
Saturday, (Golden) Daily Transcript, 13 May 1975, p. 1; Former Boettcher lodge to
be dedicated as Jeffco center, Rocky Mountain News, 17 May 1975, p. 54.
Additional information, Susan Becker, former director, Jefferson County Conference
and Nature Center, Golden, Colorado, telephone interview with author, 15 March
became part of the Jefferson County Open Space program. While the departments
publications had already listed the properties among the countys parks,200
maintenance of the buildings themselves now fell under the Open Space program
jurisdiction. Operations at JCCNC also fell to the Open Space department, while
Hiwan operations continued to be a partnership between the Jefferson County'
Historical Society and Open Space staff. Both facilities could now benefit from the
resources and dedicated source of income of the Open Space program, made possible
- or at least more legally palatable by the 1980 maintenance and development
Throughout the 1980s, the Open Space program made several upgrades to
both the Boettcher Mansion/JCCNC and the Hiwan Homestead. Department staff
added new trails to the conference and nature centers grounds, expanded the entry
lobby, and remodeled bathrooms.201 At Hiwan, director Connie Fahnestock credited
the Open Space department and the 1980 amendment for the many improvements on
^Jefferson County Open Space Program, 1979 Report to the Public,
supplement to Sentinel Newspapers, n. d., Hiwan Homestead Museum files,
201 Architectural Assessment, Boettcher Mansion, Long Hoeft Architects, p. 4;
Becker, interview with author.
the grounds of the museum, such as walkways, signs, parking lots, lighting and
increased use of outbuildings.202
Improvements related to the current uses of the buildings seemed to please all
parties involved, but those involving preservation issues sometimes ran into
difficulty. A later architectural assessment of the Boettcher Mansion noted that
mortar repair on the structures exterior stonework was sound, but unsightly and in
future would require a masonry expert.203 While the Jefferson County Historical
Society praised the work of Open Space department architects in recreating the east
porch and arbor at Hiwan, later architectural assessments cited the major omission of
a masonry base and other key features shown in historic photographs of the
According to contemporary accounts and later architectural assessments,
Jefferson County Open Space provided dedicated maintenance to the historic
properties under its care in the 1980s. At times, however, the department lacked
^Connie Fahnestock, From Camp Neosho to the Hiwan Homestead
(Evergreen, Colo.: Jefferson County Historical Society, 1985), p. 42.
203Architectural Assessment, Boettcher Mansion, Long Hoeft Architects, p. 4.
^Come see new sunporch at Hiwan, The Record of the Jefferson County
Historical Society 16, no. 1 (February 1989): 3; Hiwan Homestead Museum
Preliminary Historic Structure Report (Denver, Colo.: Long Hoeft Architects, 1989),
pp. 2-4. A more recent architectural report concurs with Long Hoefts assessment;
see Hiwan Homestead Museum, Evergreen, Colorado, Historic Structures Report
(Denver, Colo.: Architecture 2000, P. C., 2001), p. 3.4-7.
special sensitivity to standards and techniques of historic restoration and preservation.
While department leadership encouraged maintenance staff to adhere to original
design considerations, the increasing technical sophistication of the historic
preservation field during this period made meeting its standards ever more
challenging.205 To provide the best stewardship for these historic properties, Jefferson
County Open Space would need to rely on guidance from outside experts.206 As the
program developed into the 1980s, however, larger problems would soon threaten the
future of Hiwan Homestead, Boettcher Mansion, and the still-nebulous historic
preservation mission of Jefferson County Open Space.
^Ray Printz, open space director, to Karl Williams, county manager, TDS, 2
July 1975, Hiwan Homestead Museum files, Evergreen, Colo. For an overview of
preservation technology and its development, see Norman Tyler, Historic
Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, 2d ed. (New
York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2000), pp. 154-167.
^Expert outside preservation assistance came in 1988. A memorandum from
the Hiwan files indicates that the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer had
recommended that Jefferson County Open Space hire a professional preservation
architect to develop an historic structures report for Hiwan, resulting in the 1989
Long-Hoeft report. Karin Woolley, Hiwan Homestead Museum curator, to Ron
Benson, manager of leisure services, TDS, 4 May 1988, Hiwan Homestead Museum
files, Evergreen, Colo.