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Barbara Sternberg's Anne Evans News: Updates and discoveries about Anne Evans', her Family's, and others' contributions to Colorado's Cultural History.


Barbara Sternberg's Book about Anne Evans

Welcome to Anne Evans News - August, 2013
by Barbara Edwards Sternberg

Anne Evans News – With this Newsletter I hope to bring you in depth coverage of new historical discoveries along with current events that tie into Anne Evans' life and contributions, along with those of her family and other key figures in the early development of Denver, Colorado, and New Mexico. I will also keep you informed of events related to my historical biography about Anne Evans. 

Book Talks - 1. On Sunday, June 23 I thoroughly enjoyed the lively, intelligent discussion that followed my book reading at Lois Harvey's West Side Books on 32nd Street in the Highlands. Please visit this community-oriented, independent book store that carries one of the best collections of Colorado History books in Denver. 2. On September 12,  I have been invited for Tea and a Book Talk at the Denver University Friends of the Library Association Meeting. This opportunity to discuss the Evans' families' and Annes' contributions to DU, and to flesh out Anne's contributions to other areas in Denver and New Mexico will be held in the new Anderson Academic Commons Meeting Room. Exciting! This event is for members only. 3. For 30 years People House has provided affordable, quality counseling, workshops and training to the greater Denver community. On Saturday, October 19 I am delighted to be the speaker at People House's Lunch with the Author. This charming gathering takes place at the Highlands Garden Cafe. I understand that Pat Perry and her staff will prepare a special gourmet lunch for all who attend. Please join me for an enriching afternoon that supports a very good cause. Registration information at People House.

Anne Evans BlogYou may now automatically receive my blog posts via RSS feed. My recent blog post series is about what Anne Evans learned about the Hopi Indians, their art and their Snake Dance on her many visits to what she called Hopi Land. Click here to see my blog posts.
Barbara Sternberg at John and Margaret Evans Grave

 

WALKING THROUGH DENVER'S HISTORY: RIVERSIDE CEMETERY

I wrote about it, in my biography of Anne Evans, since it is the burial place of her parents, Governor John and Margaret Gray Evans. I visited its successor - and longtime owner - Fairmount Cemetery, where Anne Evans is buried. But until a month ago I had not made the pilgrimage to Riverside Cemetery. And it did indeed feel like a pilgrimage. A visit to the relics of a long-ago past, scattered through 77 spacious acres, the whole enterprise reflecting a curious combination of fascinating monuments, historic buildings, dying trees, sparse, weedy ground cover, and an aura of extraordinary significance.


History of Riverside
Riverside Cemetery Association was incorporated in April of 1876. The original Denver Cemetery, laid out by General Larimer in 1859, had become so neglected and unattractive that the good citizens of Denver were reluctant to have their loved ones buried there. A detailed history of Riverside, this fascinating place, is contained in a well-researched book. Denver's Riverside Cemetery: Where History Lies, by Annette Student, covers the Cemetery's history from its beginnings to the year 1906.

Some 67,000 people are buried at Riverside. "Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place of pioneers, miners, cattlemen, prostitutes, lawmen/women, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers, businessmen, newspapermen, schoolteachers, baseball players, realtors, developers, Medal of Honor recipients, soldiers and a circus clown. Two Colorado counties, three mountain peaks - including Colorado's highest, and one mountain pass are named after people buried at Riverside." So the "blurb" on the back of Student's book informs us.

Riverside's story is one of noble intentions and unexpected setbacks. The founders of Riverside originally planned, for their rural cemetery on the banks of the South Platte River, to follow the example of the Mt. Auburn cemetery in 1831, near Boston. This had started a new trend in the United States - of creating well-maintained cemeteries with landscaped, park-like grounds. Riverside's Board engaged a civil engineer to survey and plat the grounds, planted 1,000 trees, and explored a number of different alternatives to provide enough water, and an irrigation system to distribute it, so they could plant and maintain the attractive grounds they had in mind.

It was the failure of one source of water, or distribution system, after another, a story told in sad detail by Student, that more than anything led to Riverside's decline. But other factors contributed in a major way. The fact that the entire area surrounding the cemetery changed from prairie and farmland to industrial uses, and that this brought the Burlington and Northern Railroad along the south-east border of the cemetery, certainly did not enhance the Cemetery's appeal.


Acquisition by Fairmount Cemetery Association
Another factor was the foundation of Fairmount Cemetery in 1890. This was much more accessible than Riverside. It had an assured water supply, enabling it to implement a landscape plan that created the park-like setting Riverside had hoped to achieve. As Riverside's options for future improvement and an adequate income declined, the board of the Riverside Cemetery Association made an agreement with the Fairmount Cemetery Association (now the Fairmount Cemetery Company) whereby Fairmount acquired all of Riverside's property, assets and commitments. In the agreement, Fairmount undertook to operate Riverside "as a first class cemetery."

There is no doubt that the new administration tried to fulfill its commitment to Riverside. They made it possible for the first crematory between St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco - which Riverside had volunteered to construct - to be built at Riverside in 1904. The crematory building, which was designed by prominent Denver architect Frank Edbrooke, is still there, though the crematory went out of service around 1950.

But Riverside continued to be a money-losing proposition. Revenue from its Endowment Fund was only enough to employ two grounds keepers to do minimal clean-up and maintenance tasks. Public transportation, which in the early 20th century had enabled people to travel from the center of Denver to Riverside in 15 minutes, was discontinued. In the 1970's elm trees in the cemetery died from elm blight. But the lowest point in Riverside's long history was in 1981 when its water rights, which had been acquired by Fairmount, were lost.

According to Student, a state employee discovered a discrepancy in court documents which meant that legal water rights in the South Platte River, claimed by the Riverside Cemetery, were also claimed by four other landowners. When Fairmount Cemetery Company sued to have the water rights confirmed, they lost, and lost again when they appealed to the State Supreme Court. Attempts to work out financially feasible solutions for Riverside with the Denver Water Board failed. And so the somber low point was reached. In Student's words, "They stopped watering Riverside Cemetery's grass in 2003 and have no plans to resume watering the grounds in the future."


Hope for Riverside's Future
In 1994, Riverside was designated a National Historic District. Perhaps, at the very least, this may provide some assurance that the cemetery will never be allowed to just molder away into total decay. But a genuinely constructive development was the creation in 2001 of the Fairmount Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization which, according to its website, "was founded by preservationists, horticulturists, historians, concerned citizens and Fairmount Cemetery Company to protect the heritage of Riverside and Fairmount for future generations." The Foundation's Executive Director, Patricia Carmody, is a positive fountain of knowledge about the history of both Riverside and Fairmount. She is also apparently skilled in the art of building alliances to develop activities that hopefully will, piece by piece, revitalize the natural environment at Riverside and recreate the old cemetery as an attractive, living place for the people of Denver to enjoy. Among the efforts so far are: Riverside Revival, the planting of a few acres at a time in original prairie grasses and other native vegetation that needs no watering (now in its fifth year); gathering of all remaining old varieties of iris into a vivid little garden, small enough to keep watered; repair of deteriorating monuments, some damaged by trees falling on them; restoration of some of Riverside's historic buildings. Services and time have been donated by individuals, contractors, monument preservationists, gardening groups. The most recent partnership arrangement is between the Fairmount Heritage Foundation and the Advanced Ecology Workshop of the University of Colorado Denver's College of Architecture and Planning. Focus of the project will be on the role of the landscape architect in creating ecologically and socially sustainable systems. 2013 efforts will concentrate on Riverside's wetlands, an area rich with wildlife and native plants.


Why is Riverside Worth Preserving?
- It is the repository of a unique array of monuments, among them the largest collection of zinc monuments in the United States.
- It contains the graves of many of the most significant figures in Denver and Colorado history.
- It has a unique mix of grave sites, from areas reserved for distinct groups - the Civil War Dead, members of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral, an eastern Orthodox church in Globeville, several working men's organizations, etc. - to individual and family sites mingled together in a thoroughly democratic mix of ethnicities. To say nothing of the sections of Riverside devoted to those too poor to afford to buy grave sites, for this cemetery for many years served as Denver's potter's field.
- It is still a working cemetery, with a small new section of grave sites available for purchase.

As a number of concerned citizens of Denver, including historian Thomas Noel, have observed, Riverside would seem to be the ideal site for a Heritage Park and History Center for the City and County of Denver. The idea was broached once to the City, but was turned down. It is still possible that dedicated groups and individuals will come together in sufficient numbers to save this unique and haunting treasury of Denver's past. It could serve as a quiet place to nourish the soul, and to teach us all about the pioneers who went before us.

Riverside Cemetery

Riverside Cemetery 
Courtesy Francesca Starr
Anne Evans-A Pioneer in Colorado's Cultural History

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History Colorado

SAND CREEK STAYS IN THE NEWS

Tribal Members File Reparations Law Suit
On this issue, I am happy to admit that I was wrong. In the May/June Newsletter I wrote about a visit to History Colorado's Sand Creek Exhibit, noting that "In 1865, after the damning reports on Sand Creek from both military and Congressional investigations, a promise made that the U.S. government would pay reparations. Not a cent was ever received by the tribes, and they have long ago given up hope that this promise will ever be redeemed." An item in this week's news revealed that tribal descendants have not given up on this issue, and have in fact just filed a class action law suit in Denver against the Federal government, seeking payment of such reparations.

On July 16, Ryan Warner of CPR's Colorado Matters interviewed David Askman, one of the lawyers for the tribal members filing the suit. Askman said that tribal leaders, in the 150 years since the massacre, have tried every available route to secure the promised reparations - with no success. They were left with no other course than to file a law suit. Those filing the suit belong to different tribes, all living in Oklahoma and all descendants of victims of the Massacre.

Askman noted that the reparations promised in the 1865 agreement consisted of both money and land. He said that the tribes have been working with genealogists and estimate that the number eligible to receive reparations is around 15,000. There are precedents for this claim, according to Askman, such as the compensation paid to Japanese citizens interned in World War 2. There are also many precedents for the United States not paying monies owed to tribal members - e.g. for oil royalty payments.
 

Ryan Warner asked David Askman what defense the Federal Government is likely to offer against the suit. Askman thought that they might say that Congress did appropriate monies at the time, and that they were paid to tribal governments.

This Exhibit Closed for Tribal Consultations

In the same May/June Newsletter, I wrote about my daughter and I attending a History Colorado lecture on Sand Creek. I raised a question about History Colorado's controversial exhibit on the subject which was diplomatically referred to the organization's historian, Bill Convery. After the lecture, "A few of us assembled around Convery, who assured us that he had met with tribal representatives, heard their grievances, and made modifications to the exhibit accordingly. He said that History Colorado was not willing, as requested by tribal members, to close the exhibit during any further discussions."

Wisely, History Colorado has retreated from this position. If you go online to their web site, you will find the following notice: "Sand Creek Massacre Gallery. This exhibit is currently closed for Tribal consultations." It will be of great interest to see the exhibit that emerges after real consultation with tribal leaders and members.

Central City Opera House - Frank "Pancho" Gates 1977

 

INTRIGUING PANCHO GATES EXHIBIT EVOKES 1932 MEMORIES OF CENTRAL CITY

An Unexpected Treasure
A visit in late June to the Byers-Evans House Museum Gallery to see their latest exhibition, The Artistry of Colorado's Frank "Pancho" Gates”, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me and my daughter, Francesca. The exhibit was curated by the Kirkland Museum, in collaboration with the Byers-Evans House Museum. It includes 30 of Gates' paintings, 11 of them from the Kirkland. Before this, I was only marginally aware of Gates' work, through his activities in the early days of the restoration of the Central City Opera House and subsequent contributions to the annual festival.

According to the biography accompanying the show, "...Gates was born in Denver in 1904 and spent his childhood immersed in the theatrical and artistic communities of the city. As an adolescent, Gates spent summers painting backdrops for the Elitch Gardens Theatre. Gates left his native Colorado as a young man to study and work in theatre and film productions in New York and Los Angeles."

Apparently Gates heard from well-known New York theatrical director, Robert Edmond Jones, about the work of Ida Kruse MacFarlane and Anne Evans in restoring the Central City Opera House - and planning for a play festival there for the summer of 1932.

Thanks to the Broadway connections of Delos Chappell, whom Anne Evans recruited to serve on the first Board of the Central City Opera House Association, Robert Edmond Jones agreed to come to Central City to direct the opening production. So enchanted was he with the little Opera House, and with the whole idea of summer theater in Central City, that he "took on the entire responsibility for the first performance. He selected the show and the cast and was producer, director and set designer..." (p. 432 of the biography of Anne Evans). He designed a new red and gold curtain for the front of the stage, using themes from the ceiling frescoes, which was executed by artist Frank "Pancho" Gates. "By the following season," the exhibit's biography notes, "Gates worked full time painting backdrops and securing props for the Opera House performances."

Gates remained in Colorado for the rest of his life and, in addition to his theatrical work, exhibited his paintings at the Denver Art Museum and other venues. "His works range from abstract to realistic, and many document life in Colorado during the 1930's and 1940's." The work is creative, colorful and original in subject matter, and will be on display at the Byers-Evans Gallery through August 31. It is well worth a visit.

B Sternberg at Byers-Evans House Muaeum


Barbara Receives Stellar Woman Award   
Laura Barton presents Barbara with the
Stellar Women Award

Stellar Women
Some of you may have heard that Barbara, author par excellence, has been honored yet once more. This time by a Denver-based organization, “Stellar Women,” whose sole purpose is to honor three outstanding Colorado women each year. Although Barbara has achieved so much and generously served every community in which she has lived, in these past few years her prolific writings have come to light through publication as well as a number of invitations to read her work. To think that this amazing woman just turned 90 year old. I thought you would like to know of her most recent honor and join in congratulating her.  Joyfully, Rita Brady Kiefer

Stellar Event June 9, 2013
Jane Wasson, Barbara Sternberg, Dottie Lamm
at Stellar Women gathering
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