History

Lakewood hosts hands-on history tour as part of AHA event

West Colfax highlighted as part of annual conference

Posted 1/24/17

Historians from all over the country spent a weekend in Denver in early January, and one of the many gems they had the opportunity see was Lakewood’s West Colfax area.

The American Historical Association has been hosting annual meetings nearly …

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History

Lakewood hosts hands-on history tour as part of AHA event

West Colfax highlighted as part of annual conference

Posted

Historians from all over the country spent a weekend in Denver in early January, and one of the many gems they had the opportunity see was Lakewood’s West Colfax area.

The American Historical Association has been hosting annual meetings nearly every year since 1884, but until this January, Denver never hosted one of the meetings.

That changed on the snowy weekend of Jan. 6, when about 3,700 professional historians came to the Mile High City to share research, teaching strategies and network.

“The 2017 program focused on the theme of historical scale — examining history at everything from the microscopic level to the broadest level of historical epochs,” wrote Dr. Jane Green, marketing and public relations manager with the Historical Association. “Historians also reflected on political history and the meaning of the 2016 presidential election.”

Denver was picked to host this year’s event for geographic diversity, and because the city has emerged as a regional hub for transportation and culture, she added.

The event included optional tours to different historical corridors and sites around the metro area, and one of those tours was of Lakewood, hosted by locals Bob and Kris Autobee, of the cultural resources firm Autobee & Autobee. The Autobees spent the past two years researching and surveying a five-mile stretch of West Colfax for Colorado’s State Historic Fund.

The tour promised to shed some light on “Colorado’s Main Street” and the “Most Wickedest Street in America,” and the Autobees traced how farmers, tubercular patients, innkeepers, and used-car salesmen built this thoroughfare.

“We spoke about the history the Mountair neighborhood, the motels along West Colfax, the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, and Western Federal Savings (now Golden Music),” Bob said. “Participants also rode the W Line from the Oak Street Station to the Lamar Station.”

The tour-goers were particularly impressed with the RMCAD campus, but that wasn’t the high point for many.

“We had to stop at Casa Bonita of course,” Bob said. “Not only is it a historic spot, it’s our biggest tourist attraction.”

The motto of the Historical Association is “everything has a history,” and highlighting the unexpected history in the host city aims to inspire the visitors and residents.

“We hope this is going to be a big year for history in Lakewood,” Bob said. “We want people to think more about saving, reinvesting and rescuing historic buildings.”

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