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Belleview College (Westminster University)

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Westminster University
1892–1907, E. B. Gregory with Stanford B. White. 3455 W. 83rd Ave. (NR)

The pioneer monument that gave Westminster its name is superbly sited atop one of the most prominent hills in the metropolis. Square towers adorned with smaller circular towers and turrets add romance to an irregular, multi-story Richardsonian Romanesque edifice in rough-faced red sandstone. New Yorker Henry J. Mayham conceived and bankrolled the project, recruiting his friend Stanford White, one of H. H. Richardson's most prominent associates, to redesign work begun by a Denver architect. Construction commenced on the 640-acre site in 1892, but the silver panic of 1893 intervened. After it was finally completed and opened in 1907, “the Princeton of the West” struggled with economic and staffing difficulties, culminating in a fatal switch to all-male enrollment on the eve of the draft for World War I.

The floundering university formed a real estate company that sold lots and residences around the campus but did not bring financial salvation. A local fundamentalist sect, the Pillar of Fire Church, purchased the campus for $40,000 in 1920. The church still owns and operates a seminary and KPOF, the oldest religious broadcasting station in Colorado, on this campus. The Westminster Law School, a survivor of the original dream, lasted until its 1957 merger with the University of Denver College of Law. This fabulous Romanesque Revival apparition is well preserved but diminished by shiny metal roofing that would appall H. H. Richardson and Stanford White.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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