Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1st German Congregational Church

German-speaking people in Globeville came, not from Germany, but from villages along the Volga River in Russia. Perhaps because they had been persecuted for their religion in Russia, German-Russians wasted no time organizing churches in Globeville. The earliest of these was the First German Congregational Church.
The church was founded by people from the village of Norka and was known as "the Norkera Church."  The first structure, known as the shanty, was constructed at 44th and Lincoln in 1894 and was soon replaced by a larger brick building in 1896 or '97. As in the old country, life revolved around the church with Sunday services, prayer meetings, Bible studies and revivals. The services were held in German, and children attended "German school" after regular school during the week. Membership increased steadily and, in 1927, a larger church was built.
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  the new church was dedicated in 1974. The former building in Globeville was purchased by the city of Denver in 1976 and is now home to the Globeville Community Resource Center.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

45th & Washington

For over a hundred years, the corner at 45th and Washington has been the place to go for an inexpensive meal and visit with friends. Today the site is home to a McDonalds Restaurant; in 1908, it was home to the Western Slavonic Lodge.
Slavs began arriving in Globeville in the 1880s seeking jobs in the Grant and Globe Smelters. Work in the smelters was hard and dangerous with extreme heat, dust, and exposure to toxic fumes. To provide financial security for themselves and their families, the Slavs formed Zapadna Slovanska Zveza, the Western Slavonic Association, a fraternal society that offered sick and death benefits for its members.
The organization sought to preserve the language, culture and heritage of the mother country, Slovenia. Here, the newcomer felt comfortable and welcome, speaking his native tongue, enjoying familiar ethnic dishes and socializing with others from the old country. Slavs could find information about jobs, places to stay and where to meet other single people from home. New arrivals were introduced to American customs, music, dress and slang and helped with the process of Americanization.
Slavs gradually assimilated into American life, moved up the economic ladder and away from the Globeville neighborhood. The Western Slavonic is now Western Fraternal Life and still offers annuities, insurance products and fraternal activities at its location at 11265 Decatur Street in Westminster. The land was sold to McDonalds in 1988.