By Mary Lou Egan
A recent discussion regarding a potential new library at the Globeville Recreation Center was focused on a fitting location, as the center was the site of the neighborhood’s first library.
Known as the Community House, the building was a gift to Globeville and the City of Denver from the Denver Real Estate Exchange, whose members included realtor Frederic R. Ross and prominent businessman William P. McPhee, president of McPhee & McGinnity.
Construction began in the summer of 1920 and the finished structure was accepted by the city on Dec. 29, 1920. The Community House became a welcome gathering place for Globeville’s immigrant population, with an auditorium for plays, meetings, and a 13-piece orchestra.
The building was also home to the Globeville branch of the Denver Public Library. In addition to books, the library housed a branch of Colorado State University’s Extension Program, which held classes in home economics and American history.
Two part-time social workers were available to help residents with legal and family issues. The Aug. 21, 1927, issue of The Denver Post enthusiastically reported that Community House served some 4,000 people in Globeville. During the Depression, Denver struggled financially and reduced hours at the city’s libraries and on Jan. 3, 1934, closed the Globeville branch completely. Immediately, Lad Felix and Adolph Anzich of the Globeville Voters Taxpayers Association organized, gathered signatures on petitions, and demanded a meeting with the library’s board.
At the meeting, Felix and Anzich explained that the library was used “by foreign-born children and adults,” and it “played a great part in Americanizing residents.” The men pointed out that Globeville citizens paid taxes but were not receiving city services. When the library was reopened on Feb. 4, 1935, the Rocky Mountain News proclaimed,
“Globeville Branch Library Is Swamped as It Reopens.” In 1950, the city again closed the neighborhood’s branch, and it would be more than 40 years before Globeville would have a library in the area. On March 18, 1996, the Valdez-Perry Branch Library at 47th Avenue and Vine Street was dedicated, and in February 2022, the Bob Ragland Branch Library opened at 1900 East 35th Street in RiNo. While the libraries are nearby geographically, neither is accessible nor convenient to Globeville.
The neighborhood continues to struggle to gain a library that serves its needs and reflects its diverse community. Check The G.E.S. Gazette for dates of future planning meetings.
Mary Lou Egan is a fourth-generation Coloradan who loves history and is working on a history of Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Her blog globevillestory.blogspot. com contains tidbits about the community. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.