The Rocky Mountain News described “…a delightful retreat on the banks of the Platte…whose grounds have been prettily laid out… a charming suburban retreat.” The occasion was the dedication of Argo Park on July 25, 1880, a decade before Globeville was incorporated as a town. The park extended from Logan Street on the west to Washington Street on its eastern edge, 47th Avenue to the south and the railroad tracks on the north. This urban oasis was intended to serve the residents of Argo, the industrial company town built by the Boston and Colorado Smelter, the nearby suburban community of Highland, and the citizens of Denver. In January 1885, brewery magnate Philip Zang purchased the “resort” and added several improvements, including a dance pavilion, theater, bowling alley, and a small zoo.
The park was a lively place. The German Maennerchor performed concerts and the Welsh (many who worked at the Boston and Colorado Smelter) held singing contests or eisteddfods there. The residents of nearby “dry” towns of Argo and Highland appreciated the sales of Zang beer. Festivals, picnics, concerts, athletic activities, community gatherings, and what the January 1, 1885, edition of the Rocky Mountain News describes as “pleasure parties of all kinds” were held in the park.
Born in 1908, Martha Kulik Birch and her family lived across from the park at 47th and Grant. “. . . they had a dance pavilion with an orchestra. People used to work hard all week and then come on the streetcar and dance under the stars. In the summer, there were swings, sandboxes, and a little cement wading pool for us kids. And we had Mrs. Roosevelt. When I was about nine or ten (1917), we had this wonderful, husky teacher who wore a middy blouse, a large skirt, and had a big whistle. We kids never ran wild because everyone obeyed her. She showed us how to make baskets by soaking rattans, and at the end of the summer, we each had a little basket.”
The park diminished in size as various parcels were sold for homes and became part of the Denver parks system after Globeville was annexed in 1902. In 1940, as part of the New Deal, the park gained a swimming pool, changing rooms, and baseball fields. On August 25, 1948, a memorial honoring Globeville veterans killed in both World Wars was dedicated.
Today, the park’s swimming pool features a blue and pink curling water slide, two lap lanes, and an entry area for children with a graduated depth. A pulsing spray fountain greets sweltering guests outside the pool’s gates. Murals depicting a stone wall with Aztec sculptures wrap around the outside of the building, while whimsical ocean scenes decorate the pool area.
Events such as the annual “Old Globeville Days and Orthodox Food Festival” are held in the park, as well as family and community gatherings. An updated playground, lighted baseball field, basketball court, walking path, and picnic tables still welcome “pleasure parties of all kinds.”
Mary Lou Egan is a fourth-generation Coloradan who loves history, especially stories about immigrants in the West, their efforts to preserve their heritage and the institutions they created to support each other.
She is a graduate of the University of Denver, and a member of History Colorado, Historic Denver, and several organizations that preserve immigrants’ experiences.
She is working on a history of Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Her blog http://globevillestory.blogspot.com contains tidbits about the community. You can contact her a email@example.com
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