HISTORIC HAPPENINGS June/July 2020



Dear Historic Boulder Community, We hope that you are all staying healthy, safe, and sane as Covid-19 continues to rock the world. With no end in sight, our Board of Directors and Staff are working hard at adapting our programming and projects to fit into this new virtual life of ours. We won't give up on our community or our preservation efforts - if only "shutdowns" could stop the ravaging effects of time on our precious landmarks!

Moreover, we sincerely hope to be able to continue the traditions of our most beloved events, Meet the Spirits and Homes for the Holidays, however modified they may be. We will provide updates on these in coming editions of the newsletter. 

Finally, we need you, our members, more than ever. Times are hard for many, but if you are able to make a donation, renew your membership or peruse our gift shop, every little bit makes a difference! As ever, we are so grateful for your support.  We can't wait to see you all again. Until then, hang in there! With gratitude,  Cheri Belz, Co-President Lori Carlucci, Co-President Jamie Boyle, Interim Executive Director




We Love Our Landmarks!

956 16th Street - University Hill School

The University Hill School was built in 1905, in response to budding housing developments working their way up the Hill. It is one of BVSD's oldest standing buildings, and it has functioned as a school since its doors first opened to students in 1906. It was landmarked in 1998.

Designed by Redding & Son, the same architects behind the Hotel Boulderado and the McInnes Mansion, the Uni Hill School is one of Boulder's strongest examples of Italianate/Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. Notice the striking red brick, the symmetrical proportions and repeating window patterns, the rounded arches and arcaded entrance, and the overhanging, hipped roof. 

In addition to its architectural importance, the school has been recognized for several progressive achievements in its educational style. Two important figures in its history were Principals F.A. Boggess (1911 - 1937) and Naomi Grothjan (1982 - 1990). Boggess became well-known among educators for designing the school's curriculum around extra-curricular activities and emphasizing the concept of being an involved citizen. Later, Grothjan (the school's first female Principal) pioneered Boulder's first alternative education program by allowing students to shape parts of their own curriculum. Now, University Hill School functions as a bilingual English/Spanish school. 

The building has seen several changes over the years, dictated by a growing student population and evolving needs. Notably, the alterations have always been sensitive to the building's original exterior. For instance, additions to increase the school's capacity have been achieved either through rear additions or via entirely separate structures. 

The Landmarks Board and City Council recently approved City Preservation Staff's recommendations to allow BVSD to make new alterations to the school. One of the rear additions (from 1999) will be updated to accommodate a much larger cafeteria, and the school will gain a separate "cooling tower" building for greatly-needed HVAC equipment. Part of the project will include cleaning and restoration of the exterior walls and windows.

Once again, the City has opted to breathe new life into this little old school building, rather than abandoning it for "newer, bigger, better." 


Coming Soon! Historic Boulder's First Annual High School Essay Contest for Local History

Historic Boulder firmly believes in the benefits of studying local history: deepening a connection with one's community, understanding how historic events relate to everyday life, and even reshaping the way one perceives the present.

We are proud to announce that plans are underway for the initiation of a local history essay contest for BVSD high school students. We are currently in talks with members of the school district, with hopes of rolling it out to students this fall! The program will invite teachers/faculty to share the prompt with their students and to "sponsor" the entries - assisting with interpretation of the prompt, accessing research resources, and editing. Cash prizes will be granted to the winners. 

More details coming soon!

Preservation Advocacy Boulder Theater Façade Restoration Continues! 


Historic Boulder continues to work closely with The Boulder Theater and local specialists to assess and repair the theater's iconic facade. The first major assessment took place on July 1st, with samples being taken to determine the extent of water and structural damage.

The next step is a more thorough analysis of the samples and the production of construction documents to specify the necessary repairs. Bids for the actual repair work can then be obtained to apply for a construction grant from State Historical Fund.  As always with preservation, efforts will be ongoing. Stay tuned for further updates!


Volunteer Spotlight: Remembering Ones We've Lost

Phyllis Olson dedicated many years of her life to Historic Boulder, to preservation efforts and to various community initiatives around Boulder. She was one of our founding members, going on to be an active Board Member, Board President in 1984, and the Chairperson of several committees including the Homes for the Holidays Tour committee. She and her husband Roger even took out a mortgage on their home to fund Historic Boulder's $225,000 purchase of the Arnett-Fullen House and adjacent lot in the 1990s. Another of her endeavors was to establish a bed and breakfast in her ranch home, leading to a heated court battle with disgruntled neighbors (which she won!), and culminating in the successful landmarking of the house - now known as the Reinert-Olson House at 1740 Sunset Blvd. In addition to her preservation work, Phyllis was a champion for Boulder's homeless population. Through her work with the First United Methodist Church of Boulder, she helped found Attention Homes which still today works to provide "prevention, intervention and solutions for youth homelessness."  Phyllis passed away on June 15, 2020, from natural causes at the age of 96. Boulder is a better place having been touched by her, and her dedication will not be forgotten. Watch her interview for The Carnegie's Maria Rogers Oral History program here. From her obituary: "A memorial service will be held on a date to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to Attention Homes at attentionhome.org or 1440 Pine St., Suite B, Boulder, CO 80302. For online messages to the family visit www.murphyfuneraldirectors.com."


Jane Valentine Barker was a prolific, award-winning writer who spent most of her life telling Boulder's history. Perhaps her most memorable works are the book 76 Historic Homes of Boulder and its companion piece, 76 Historic Homes of Boulder County. Dozens of our favorite old houses were researched and celebrated in these books before ever being considered for landmark status. Written in 1976, they have been heavily referenced in various Historic Boulder research projects over the years. Longtime readers of the Daily Camera may also remember her "Over the Shoulder" column, which she wrote for 11 years. Jane came by the history naturally - she was born and raised here, the legacy of two families who were early Boulder settlers, the Beckwiths and the Valentines. Her childhood was filled with family stories of visiting miners in Gold Run, sharing biscuits with Native Americans, and early CU days. Some of our members may even recall her family's namesake hardware store at 1144 Pearl Street (now a landmark, the Boettcher-Valentine Building), which closed in the 1970s.  Historic Boulder was lucky to count Jane as a long-serving member - her children remember her speaking very fondly of her work with our organization. She passed away on April 23rd at the age of 89. She will be greatly missed, but not forgotten. Watch her interview for The Carnegie's Maria Rogers Oral History Program here. From her obituary: "Those wishing to contribute a memorial might consider a donation to Women Writing the West, c/o Allnutt Mortuary, 6521 W. 20th St., Greeley, CO 80634. A celebration of life is planned for a later date."

Reminder: We've Moved Please update your records with Historic Boulder's new address:  1200 Pearl St, Ste 314 Boulder, CO 80302


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