Monday, July 10, 2017

Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days

It's almost here - the 14th Annual Orthodox Food Festival and Old Globeville Days at Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, 349 E 47th Avenue (at Logan Street) in Denver. This grand event will be held one day only, Saturday, July 15, 2017, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Taste ethnic food favorites from Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Eritrea, Italy, Greece and Mexico, as well as grilled lamb, hot dogs, craft beer and Slivovitz (Slovenian plum brandy). 
Enjoy live entertainment, games for the children, crafts, an iconography exhibit, and tours of the historic Orthodox Cathedral. Admission is FREE. Presented by Holy Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Cathedral.
Orthodox Food Festival

Planina Ukrainian Singers

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Nanny Goat Hill

During the 1880s, immigrants moved to an area north of Denver that offered jobs in the smelters, railroads and meatpacking plants. In this industrial enclave, developers began laying out tracts with pastoral-sounding names like Garden Place, Greenwood Addition, Cranberry Place and Tacoma Heights. Families acquired these small plots, constructed the tiny homes that still define the neighborhood and took their first steps toward building a life in Globeville. To the west, on a bluff overlooking the settlement was an area known as Nanny Goat Hill.
Sam Dreith remembers, "There was a section in between Broadway to about Fox Street we called Nanny Goat Hill. All along Globeville Road and where the Regency Student Housing is now, that was all truck farms. Old man Struck kept nanny goats. And, to the south, Fiori’s had a truck farm with nanny goats. There was nothing but prairie and the Argo ditch to the north. Quite a few Germans, Kriegers and Wilhelms,
lived up there too. And the brickyards, Denver Sewer, Pipe and Clay, were up there on 45th and Fox Street. The Cook brothers had a service station up there. They were the only businesses up there on the prairie.
Today, this area is again the target of real estate developers, hungry to capitalize on a location close to transportation and downtown Denver. Long gone are the truck farms, the nanny goats and the memories of Globeville's early days.

43rd and Cherokee overlooking I-25
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Homestead Nanny Goat Hill 2017
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Newer Condos Nanny Goat Hill 2017
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan


Thursday, April 27, 2017

1st German Congregational Church - What's the Plan?

"If these walls could talk..." the building at 4400 Lincoln in Globeville has been witness to years of celebrations, marriages, baptisms, confirmations and funerals. Once home to German-speaking immigrants from the village of Norka, Russia, the building was the home of the 1st German Congregational Church, and a monument to faith and hard work. Newcomers first met in neighbor's homes for services, and then built a structure known as "the Shanty" at 44th and Lincoln as their first place of worship in 1894. A larger brick structure replaced "the Shanty" in 1896 or '97. Membership increased steadily and, in 1927, a larger church was built.

Laying of the cornerstone, April 24, 2017 
Photo used by permission of Larry Summers, 2004

Rose window, a gift of Caspar Hofmann
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

As in the old country, life revolved around the church with Sunday services, Sunday school, choirs, prayer meetings, Bible studies, a social group for young people and frequent revivals. The services were held in German, and children attended "German school" after regular school during the week. Throughout the years, attendance and contributions remained high, even as the neighborhood came under attack. The construction of I-25 and I-70 took the homes and businesses of many church members and led to discussions about relocating away from the neighborhood. A search committee purchased land at 5615 West 64th Avenue in Arvada and, in 1974, the new church, Heritage Community Bible Church was built. The former building in Globeville was purchased by the city of Denver in 1976 and served as a Senior Center for many years, where Globeville's seniors could share a meal, learn crafts, take a class and socialize. 

In the last several years, the building has been unoccupied and seems uncared for. The circular frame that once held the stained glass window is deteriorating, mortar is seeping out from between the bricks and a misspelled message on a crumbling step warns "no lortering."

 Photo of 1st German Congregational Church in 2016
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan


"No lortering" and crumbling steps
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan
A community forum was held June 25, 2016 to solicit ideas from the community for the best use of the building. Suggestions included:
A small library for Globeville
A satellite office for the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative 
Office space for a non-profit organization.

According to Seneca Holmes, (from the city's Office of Economic Development and chair of the 2016 meeting) the building needs numerous improvements, updates and extensive repairs. Holmes is no longer with the the OED but was hopeful about the future of the project and suggested I keep in touch with Councilwoman at Large, Debbie Ortega. 

Ortega's Aide, Susan Aldretti, was less optimistic. In an email from April 24, Aldretti said: "Unfortunately, there has not been a lot of progress. Denver is preparing a list of projects to take to the voters, and the rehabilitation of this building is included in the initial list. The process for the bonds is lengthy. The requests are being considered by sub-committees, who then make recommendations to a steering committee. The steering committee will make recommendations to the Mayor and then the Mayor will recommend to City Council. It is not possible to predict if this project will be included in the final package at this point."

If these walls could talk, this former church building would share the memories of the active, vibrant community of immigrants who created and cared for it. Will there be new stories? Or will this crumbling structure be a reminder of a past that seems brighter than the present?


Friday, April 7, 2017

Badges, Ribbons and Banners

Your logo here! Today's promotional materials include mugs, pens, T-shirts, key chains, stress balls, rain jackets, umbrellas and drink coasters  Globeville's earlier residents also liked to remember important events, such as the dedication of Holy Rosary Church, with souvenirs.
Slovenes and Croats had saved a long time to build a church of their own and planned a gala celebration for April 18, 1920 with Mass, choirs, speeches by visiting dignitaries, and processions by fraternal groups. Those in attendance may have come away with a commemorative badge
produced by the Colorado Badge and Novelty Company located on 1752 Champa Street in Denver.
The front of the badge features a photo of the newly completed church, while the reverse side provides information about the company itself. Noteworthy is the union label number 30 - probably significant to the Mill and Smeltermen, or Western Federation of Miners - whose badges were also manufactured by the company.

Lodge ribbons would also be important souvenirs, with one side being displayed during conventions and the reverse side worn at funerals.

Ribbons for St. Joseph's Polish Lodge 

And, of course, there were the banners with embroidered type, images and fringe - proudly displayed at meetings, parades, and conventions. These century-old commemorative mementos were meant to be substantial - I wonder if any logo-bearing T-shirts will survive a hundred years.

  Banner for St Joseph's Lodge, American Fraternal Union

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ed Wargin and Polack Valley

I became acquainted with Ed Wargin in 1999. I called and asked Ed if I could interview him about Globeville for a history of the area I was writing. He was originally reluctant to meet with me - I was a total stranger - but we finally got together, sat on his back porch and he answered my questions. As we got more comfortable with each other, he shared memories of his father and grandfather, stories of the kids he played with, what people did for fun, and the gypsies. Each time we met, Ed regaled me with his memories and reminded me that Globeville was a very special place. He suggested we take a tour and he could show me various places in the neighborhood and what Globeville was really like.

I picked him up on a Saturday in April 2000 and we followed the old Interurban tracks through the neighborhood. His enthusiasm was contagious as he pointed out the different houses where his family had lived, the churches, lodges, and sites of former grocery stores and saloons. The finale was a trip to "Polack Valley" on the north side of the highway, between the railroad tracks.

Ed pointed to where Kowalczyks, Ryszkowskis and Oletskis had settled in the 1880s and where their descendants still lived. At the Oletski's house, the entire family was gathered to make sausage, but they stopped what they were doing and visited with us. Everyone was laughing and waving their hands as they told stories about their grandfathers Wargin and Oletski, who knew each other.

They were forceful men who worked as blacksmiths, in the smelters and on the railroad and built houses so all their family members could live nearby. They organized the local chapter of the Polish National Alliance, and then built St. Joseph's Polish Catholic Church and school. John Oletski excused himself, and when he returned, he gave us each a pound of the sausage they had just made.

I saw then the Globeville that Ed wanted me to see. The Eastern European hospitality where folks dropped what they are doing to talk with an elderly visitor and amateur historian, and treat each of us to a pound of home made Polish sausage. It doesn't get much better than that.

Ed Wargin, April 2000
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Oletskis still live in Polack Valley

Friday, February 3, 2017

Short Sherman

Globeville is defined by its ethnic enclaves, but there are also pockets of the neighborhood that locals refer to by their own distinctive titles. Like Short Sherman.
Short Sherman is located on the southern end of Globeville and consists of three houses on the west side of the 4200 block (there is no east side), right next to the Burlington Railroad tracks. The Denver city directory lists these three families on the block in 1934:
  • William and Elizabeth Yaeger occupied 4289 Sherman, a house built in 1896.
  • Peter and Thelma Meininger were in the middle of the block at 4287 Sherman.
    The home dates from 1901.
  • John and Elizabeth Triebelhorn lived the southern end of the short street at
    4285 Sherman, in a house built in 1900. 
Triebelhorns are the best example of families settling near each other, with fourteen Triebelhorn families living on Sherman and Lincoln Streets in the Garden Place subdivision. Seven Triebelhorns worked for the Burlington Railroad, four were laborers, one a small businessman and two ladies were employed at the Denver Dry Goods.
The small enclave is also an example of chain migration, with all the residents being German-speaking immigrants from the Volga region of Russia. German Russians had been persecuted for their faith in the Old Country and were very active in the three German-speaking churches in Globeville. (David Triebelhorn is listed among the founders of the Freidens Evangelical Lutheran Church).
While those families listed in 1934 have moved away from the neighborhood, their legacy of families working together and supporting each other remains a characteristic of Globeville today.

4200 block of Sherman Street in Globeville
Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Crossroads Commerce Park - No Trace of the Globe Smelter

Crossroads Commerce Park on the site of the
Globe Smelter. Photo ® Mary Lou Egan

Islands of fresh landscaping and parking lots surround new warehouses on the hill at 55th and Washington. There is no statue, no plaque, no historical marker to indicate that this site was once home to the American Smelting and Refining Company's [ASARCO] Globe Smelter. There is no mention of the men who worked 12 hours a day, six and seven days a week in crushing heat and toxic chemicals in order to separate gold, silver and lead from the ores that held them. There is no acknowledgment of the fact that, by 1900, the area’s three smelters, the Boston and Colorado, the Omaha and Grant, and the Globe, processed nearly two-fifths of the ore mined in Colorado. 1. 

Globe Smelter about 1900, William Henry Jackson,
Photo Denver Public Library

The Omaha and Grant, Globeville's largest smelter, closed during the bitter labor battle of 1903 and Globeville's first smelter, the Boston and Colorado, was gradually dismantled after a fire in September 1906. After 1906, ASARCO's Globe Plant was the only remaining smelter in the neighborhood.
The Globe Plant struggled. High-grade ores were harder to come by and newer technologies had been developed to treat low-grade ores at other plants. Demand for metals reached a high point during World War I and fell off dramatically afterward. In 1919, ASARCO decided to discontinue smelting at the Globe plant, “...closing down all stacks,” using the plant to recover valuable elements in ores shipped from other plants. 2. The work force of about 100 men extracted whatever was useful from the flue dust that arrived in covered railroad gondola cars, including cadmium, thallium, indium, copper and lead.

Cell house about 1926,
Photo used with written permission from Steve Stevens
During World War II, the Globe concentrated on recovering cadmium, a rust-proof element considered essential to the nation’s defense and used to coat airplanes, tanks and radio equipment. The company supplied nearly 60 percent of the nation’s cadmium, operating seven days a week.

An award from the National Safety Council in December 1960
for one million man hours worked without an accident or lost time from work.
 left to right, Steve Stevens, Ralph Rickenbaugh, Jim Ryan, Margaret Philpot,
Max Coats, Lou Landers, Bill Miles

Photo used with written permission from Steve Stevens

The plant was considered a safe place to work, but the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act [OSHA] of 1970 changed the criteria for measuring safety in the workplace and would hold companies accountable to different standards. The result was more than twenty years of health studies, regulation, environmental claims and landmark lawsuits. By 2003, ASARCO was facing claims in excess of $100 million to cleanup its sites throughout the country. An environmental trust fund was established, but the money would not cover all the remediation that needed to be done. The EPA prioritized restoration of residences, businesses, schools, parks, which had been completed by the time the trust fund was set up. Work on the Globe Plant itself had not.
On August 9, 2005, ASARCO filed for protection under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and said it would then attempt to sell the property for “brownfield redevelopment,” a process in which a contaminated property is cleaned and developed for a nonpolluting use. In February 2008, the Colorado Legislature passed a measure that would allow a municipality to include unincorporated county land in an urban renewal project, but by the end of the year the economy was faltering and Brownfield Partners was unable to proceed with the acquisition. Gradually, collaboration, creative financing and federal loans allowed the project to move forward.
In May 2011, a public-private partnership was created that included both Denver and Adams Counties, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), the State of Colorado and developer EFG Brownfield Partners (who later merged with EnviroFinance Group), and its subsidiary, Globeville I, LLC. Denver and Adams Counties funded the infrastructure, and in 2014, Denver developer Trammell Crow agreed to buy the smelter site from EnviroFinance Group and build the biggest industrial park in central metro Denver.
Today, the $85 million Crossroads Commerce Park contains warehouse, distribution and light-manufacturing buildings encompassing 1 million square feet and could bring an estimated 800 to 1,500 jobs to the Globeville neighborhood. 3.
Perhaps Trammell Crow would consider some visual commemoration of the Globe Smelter site that would honor the contributions of the immigrant laborers who toiled there and settled the Globeville neighborhood.

1. Fell, James E., Ores to Metals, The Rocky Mountain Smelting Industry, University of Nebraska Press, 1979

2. “Smelter to Cut Force to 100 Men,” Denver Post, May 28, 1919
3.  Trammell Crow signs on to redevelop ASARCO site in Globeville, Denver Post, October 29, 2014