As area, after area of Denver is renamed and their stories retold, we are quickly losing the stories that tie us to the character that many have come here seeking. SoBro, RINO, LODO, LoHI, Uptown, Midtown, Ballpark, all of these names have been coined to reshape the past of a neighborhood and the zoning crafted to prime it for change.
But even in these places, landmarking has been a tool to connect a new generation of Denverites to the good, the bad, the ugly and inspiring of Denver’s rich cultural heritage. Whether it is Matty Silks brothel, the Molly Brown House, the Coyle Chase House and Thomas Hornsby Ferrill house – both similar in stature to what we are asking for today — or the William W. Anderson House, these homes preserve the stories of neighborhoods and our culture so that they are not only not forgotten but can serve as lessons for the future.
The Anderson House represents a true story, not of a tycoon who we glorify for achievements while whitewashing their business practices, but of a well-known lawyer who found himself influencing the upper echelon of society after a dispute with the Denver Post owners that led to his becoming a symbol of a middle-class disgruntled by corruption in the court systems.
Jefferson Park residents have likely had more development going on in their backyard than most Denverites have experienced. They have worked closely with developers to try and make it a welcome addition to our community. Unfortunately, as you have heard, the development company in this instance has shut down lines of communication instead of committing to them. It is equally unfortunate that its actions to force and stack a vote at JPUN has compelled the board to rewrite its bilaws, designed in part by myself, believing in the magnanimity of people.
Luckily, the applicants have worked to find the solution that is a win-win-win for the community, owner and potential developer for this home…much as we have done in the past. The deal creates a sizable payment to the owner, allows for increased density for the city, revenue potential for a developer, and preserves a community’s past and character. Had this Company chose to communicate, it could have been a part of the solution.
There are many landmarked properties in Colorado that remind of stories important to remember but not flattering of our past. Ludlow, Stone Creek, Camp Amache, even the Opium Riots, where numerous Asian American died In Denver, are all stories we must keep so that we do not repeat our past mistakes. However, the Anderson House is not one of those stories. It is the story of a man who, caught in a maelstrom of events, was targeted by the social elite and saw his life transformed into a hammer used to purge corruption from Denver Courts.
Was Anderson perfect. No. Did he take the law into his own hands. One columnist said so. Is his story and his influence on individuals of power important to Denver. Yes.
William W. Anderson was well-known in Denver before his run in with the publishers of the Denver Post, but his story became legend and the target of yellow journalism after his argument with the Denver Post owners over his brief power of attorney with Alfred Packer led to his shooting of them in what a jury called self-defense and the subsequent trials that led to a supreme court case, a grand jury hearing and the eventual conviction of one post owner, a magistrate, and the court bailiff for bribing the jury against him.
As you have heard, this story was covered in local and national papers over three years and helped purge corruption from the West Denver Courts and reframe the perception of the city as one of law and order. That is the story, verifiable through any impartial historian you might put on the task.
The landmark commission, a panel of real historians and architects have approved this designation and been adamant that the architecture fits undeniably the criteria, members of the commission have commented that the story is as good as any in Denver, and they even opined on whether to take the time to also use geography to designate it.
Today, there are two options on the table for city council to vote on. One is created by a company that invested in a zero sum game to maximize its profits at the expense of all other parties involved. The other is a Nash equilibrium, a deal brokered with the Jefferson Park residents, current owner, potential developer, and all residents in mind that maximizes the benefits to the location’s future homeowners and all members of the Denver Community.
We, the residents of Jefferson Park, of District one and of the Denver Metro area supporting this landmark would ask you to choose the second option. By doing so, you will preserve an important landmark, only the second in the once town of Highland. You will ensure our story, a story that recalls a city of near lawlessness, embattled with yellow journalism and corruption that through a series of nationally publicized events changed a city and the perception of it — is not forgotten.
While a loss for Adams Development LLC will likely mean a tax right off. The loss to our community if this property is not designated will be irreparable. Please choose to preserve 2329 Eliot, the William Anderson House, as a landmark of Denver’s past.
Thank you for your time and our community looks forward to continuing to build a Jefferson Park that looks to the future while being respectful of the past.