Lasting Landmark #1 -West Denver Congregational Church

It has surprised me how many structures I found images of in the library archive that no longer exist, that I was compelled to explore some of our Lost Landmarks here first. Now, it’s time to tell a tale of one that still stands in La Alma Lincoln Park today, at 935 West Eleventh Ave.

It actually was difficult to choose one name for the title of this post, as the building has had many churches congregate there over the years. I decided to use the first congregation to reside there, however, even that answer needs a footnote:  the Presbyterians declined the original offer of land from Governor Hunt.

A C Hunt

Though not religious himself, his beloved departed was devout. Ellen Elizabeth Kellogg Hunt had never officially joined the Central Presbyterian Church of Denver, however her mother, Ann Eliza Clark Kellogg did in 1876. When her church leaders declined to expand or move to West Denver, her late husband, Hosmer Kellogg‘s denomination was given the land on condition of completing construction within a year.

robinson-atlas-of-the-city-of-denver-plate-26-west-denver-congregational-churchThe structure completed in 1881 was just the western section of the structure standing today. It was small, only 32 by 48 feet, and reportedly cost the congregation $3500 to construct.  Apparently short $800, A. C. Hunt threw in $500 as an additional tribute to his wife, and passing a hat through the pews raised the rest. In 1892 they moved on to 5th and Fox as the Third Congregationalist Church.

Next, Seventh Day Adventists occupied the holy house, and expanded the size significantly. They were followed by Bible Missionary Baptists in 1940, and Calvary Church of the Assembly of God.

In 1958, it was home to Spanish Methodist Church, or First Spanish. Before moving in, they had occupied St. James, located on the Auraria side of Colfax at 9th (Mariposa), until it was condemned by the city.

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gregorio-alcaro-at-casa-mayanNeighbors might be interested to know Casa Mayan preservationist and friend to La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood, Gregorio Alcaro, told me that he was baptized at the Eleventh Street Spanish Methodist when I mentioned this church post was on my plate.

After a fire in ’66, by ’68 they joined forces with Inner City Parish at the old Smith Chapel at 9th and Galapago.

So, by 1969, it was no longer a church, and at the heart of a Chicano liberation movement, Centro Cultural found a home there. It was the passion of neighborhood-grown expert in Pre-Colombian art, Tony Shearer, and sought to use the arts to educate and instill pride within his, and other marginalized communities. Many worked to keep the dream alive, but the effort was never financially sustained. It became La Casa del Barrio in 1971, but faded for financial reasons as well.

Plans for he Third Eye theater and transition center for troubled teens never materialized in the nineties. This project was connected to June and Joey Favre, successful Denver restaurateurs with theatrical backgrounds.

And, for several years it was occupied and adorned by a resident artist.

Since 2008, a unique new church called”Scum of the Earth,” has occupied the renewed house of worship.

Credit Due

I knew the Hunt connection from my own reading of Colorado Magazine feature on First Ladies of Colorado- Ellen Kellogg Hunt (Vol 39 #26 pp 125-32)

The story of the dedication was found in RMN 10.17.1881

Pouring over many Maps from the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection offered confirmation of the original structure and addition.

Phil Goodstein’s How the West Side Won pulled the timeline and the facts together so well, that he deserves full credit for outlining this post for me. I had only heard of Centro Cultural and knew nothing of the Third Eye.

The best of the recent images are from neighbor/photographer/lawyer/daddy/awesome guy Brandon Selinsky.

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