900 Auraria Pkwy., Denver
The Auraria Campus on the outlying rim of LoDo is Colorado’s largest campus, with about 38,000 students, and is home to three separate institutions: the Community College of Denver, the Metropolitan College of Denver, and the University of Colorado at Denver. This is a commuter campus with no dormitories or other student housing on-site. As the campus was once a town of its own before merging with Denver in the 1860s, there are several historical sights worth visiting here.
The Ninth Street Historic Park is the oldest restored block in the city and includes 13 Victorian homes (now administrative offices) and a turn-of-the-20th-century grocery store (now a bagel and coffee shop). It’s free to stroll along the block and read the small signs in front of each home, which tell a bit about the architecture and people who originally lived there.
Not far from the historic park is the relocated and restored onetime home of Golda Meir, former Israeli prime minister. When she was a girl, Meir left her parents’ home in Milwaukee to live with her sister and brother-in-law in Denver in their tiny duplex. She went to high school in the city and worked in the family laundry business. In literature describing Meir’s time in Denver, she is quoted as saying, “It was in Denver that my real education began.” One side of the duplex contains artifacts from Meir’s life, while the other side is used for small conferences. Tours are available (303/556-3292).
The city’s oldest church structure is now the Emmanuel Gallery, serving as an art gallery for the campus. The little stone chapel was built in 1876 for Episcopalians, then was converted into a Jewish synagogue in 1903, and eventually became an artist’s studio until 1973. The gallery displays artwork by faculty and students in changing exhibits (303/556-8337, www.emmanuelgallery.org, Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.).
Still an active Catholic parish, St. Elizabeth’s Church was founded by German immigrants in 1878. As the congregation grew too large the original church was torn down and the current one constructed in 1898. The monastery was added in the 1930s. To learn more about the sometimes bizarre history of the church—a murdered priest, panhandling nuns—go to www.archden.org/noel/.
St. Cajetan’s, a Spanish colonial church, was built in 1925 for the Latino community. In 1973 the parish relocated and the church is now used for campus functions. Call ahead to schedule guided tours of these historic buildings (720/556-3291).
The most distinctive building on campus is the Tivoli Student Union, which started out in 1866 as one of Denver’s earliest breweries. The building had subsequent additions and uses and today includes a multiplex movie theater where the annual Denver International Film Festival is held. There are no tours offered of the Tivoli building; it is open to the public as a student union with various eateries and campus offices.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition