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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Boulder

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1859, 5,363 feet) is insulated by greenbelts from the suburban sprawl of metropolitan Denver. Boulder's ongoing debate over building limits began early, with the original, 1859 town plat. Town founders staked out a community stretching two miles along Boulder Creek....

Allenspark

By: Thomas J. Noel

Allenspark (1896, 8,520 feet), named for early homesteader Alonzo Allen, is located at the foot of Longs Peak on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Following a flurry of gold mining between 1903 and 1912, the town languished. Today it is primarily a tourist destination...

Eldora

By: Thomas J. Noel

Eldora (1897, 8,700 feet), historically known as Happy Valley and Eldorado Camp, sprang up after a gold strike on Spencer Mountain. Eldora is a good example of a mining town that became a resort. Miners' cabins were converted to summer houses after the Switzerland Trail railroad arrived...

Gold Hill

By: Thomas J. Noel

Gold Hill (1863) was born following 1859 placer and lode gold strikes on the hill for which the community was named. Profitable gold soon played out, and a forest fire, which sent the populace deep into the mines for safety, destroyed much of the original town. Tourism developed...

Lafayette

By: Thomas J. Noel

Lafayette (1889, 5,237 feet) was named for 1870s pioneer Lafayette Miller, whose wife, Mary, owned the land on which the town was built. Coal was discovered on the Miller farm in 1884, and Lafayette became a major coal town. Most of the mines closed by 1950, but Lafayette is now...

Longmont

By: Thomas J. Noel

Longmont (1872, 4,979 feet) was founded by members of the Chicago Colorado Colony, who named it for Longs Peak, the 14,255-foot landmark on the western horizon. Boulder County's second largest city has a strong agricultural base as well as significant industry and commerce, although the...

Louisville

By: Thomas J. Noel

Louisville (1878, 5,350 feet) was platted by Louis Nawatny after coal was discovered in 1877. Production from three dozen mines peaked in 1909 at 753,287 tons. Transportation was never a problem in Louisville, since it lay on the Colorado Central's Boulder-to-Longmont line,...

Lyons

By: Thomas J. Noel

Lyons (1882, 5,374 feet), in the valley where North and South St. Vrain creeks meet, is noted for its quarries of red sandstone, which town founder Edward S. Lyons exported to Denver for that city's flagstone sidewalks. Platted in 1882 as the Lyons Townsite and Quarry Company, Lyons began...

Ward

By: Thomas J. Noel

Ward (1863, 9,258 feet) was named for Calvin Ward, who found gold here in 1860. Remnants of its bonanza days include the Community Church, originally the Ward Congregational Church (1890s), 41 Modoc Street (NR), a clapboard Carpenter's Gothic charmer with its wavy bargeboard and rose window...

Gilpin County

By: Thomas J. Noel

“The Little Kingdom” of Gilpin is a vestigial mining realm still wearing its goldenera garb. The Central City–Black Hawk–Nevadaville National Historic Landmark District has 418 contributing structures out of a total of 472. This small county named for Colorado's first territorial...

Central City

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1859, 8,496 feet) sparkled as the first hub of the Rocky Mountain gold rush and Colorado Territory's most populous city during the 1860s. Within weeks after John Gregory's 1859 strike, canvas, slab, and hewn pine shacks climbed the rocky hillsides like stairs....

Black Hawk

By: Thomas J. Noel

Black Hawk (1860, 8,042 feet), “The City of Mills,” was named for a pioneer quartz mill built by the Black Hawk Company of Rock Island, Illinois. Strategically located at the confluence of Gregory Gulch and North Clear Creek, this mill town became the county's ore processing hub....

Clear Creek County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Gold miners settled in this county on the eastern flank of the Continental Divide as early as 1859 after a major gold strike by George Jackson led to the birth of Idaho Springs, the first county seat. Fifteen miles farther up Clear Creek, Georgetown sparkled as Colorado's first...

Georgetown

By: Thomas J. Noel

Georgetown (1860, 8,519 feet) has an elegance that makes it strikingly different from most raw mining settlements. Gentrification began with town founder George Griffith, who brought his wife and family to settle in “George's Town.” Other women also arrived early, encouraged,...

Silver Plume

By: Thomas J. Noel

Silver Plume (c. 1870, 9,118 feet) is noted for its silver mines and granite quarries. While merchants and mine owners gravitated to Georgetown, Silver Plume housed most of the mines and miners. The town, named for ore so rich that silver flakes broke off in feathery plumes, runs...

Idaho Springs

By: Thomas J. Noel

Idaho Springs (1859, 7,540 feet) was established after George A. Jackson, attracted by the hot springs that gave the town its name, camped here in January 1859 and struck placer gold in Chicago Creek near its confluence with Clear Creek. A swarm of miners established mines, mills,...

Empire

By: Thomas J. Noel

Named by New Yorkers for their native state, Empire (1860, 8,601 feet) remains a quiet town of about 400, little affected by modern developments. North of town, beyond the current dump, are the ruins of Upper Empire or North Empire, the original mining town that was overshadowed by the...

Dumont

By: Thomas J. Noel

Dumont (1861, 7,950 feet) was known as Mill City until 1879. Surviving buildings include the one-room Dumont Schoolhouse (1904) and the Green Dumont Stage Station, now a museum. Mill City Road House (1860), U.S. Highway 40 near Mill Creek Road, to the east of the current post office, is a...

Park County

By: Thomas J. Noel

The 9,000-foot-high, mountain-rimmed valley that makes up most of Park County is the cradle of the South Platte River. Its early name was Bayou Salado, for its salt deposits. French trappers and traders called it parc (park, or pen for wildlife). Yankees renamed it South Park and...

Fairplay

By: Thomas J. Noel

Fairplay (1860, 9,953 feet) was organized as the “Fairplay Diggings” by miners squeezed out of the nearby mining camp of “Graball.” Fairplay prospered and became the county seat, while most other mining towns became ghosts. Mining continued until the 1970s, when the last large dredge...

Alma

By: Thomas J. Noel

Alma (1873, 10,355 feet), named for an early woman settler, claims to be the world's highest incorporated town. Its smelter and various mills made it a pioneer mining hub that remains a frame and log town of one-and two-story nineteenth-century structures. Besides the grand Queen Anne...

Jefferson

By: Thomas J. Noel

Jefferson (1861, 9,500 feet) began as an 1860s gold-mining camp and was revived in 1879 by the arrival of the DSP&P, whose depot (1879) along U.S. 285 has been lovingly restored. This clapboard station is typical of hundreds of small-town depots with its simple, side-gable...

Como

By: Thomas J. Noel

Como (1879, 9,800 feet) was named for the lake in their homeland by Italian miners who worked coal mines near this DSP&P town and division point. From here a narrow-gauge branch climbed over Boreas Pass to Breckenridge and the Summit County mines, while the main line headed southwest...

Hartsel

By: Thomas J. Noel

Hartsel (1875, 8,860 feet) was founded by Sam Hartsel, who introduced shorthorn cattle to Colorado at his ranch here. The Hartsel stage stop evolved into a station for the Colorado Midland Railroad, a standard-gauge line from Colorado Springs whose rail bed and passenger and freight...

Jackson County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Young (1909) Jackson County comprises most of North Park, the high, isolated headwaters of the North Platte River. The park, which spills into Wyoming, is the northernmost of Colorado's four large, mountain-rimmed central valleys. It is defined on the east by the Medicine Bow Mountains...

Walden

By: Thomas J. Noel

Located, as the county seat, in the center of North Park, Walden (1881, 8,099 feet) was named for Marcus Aurelius Walden, a pioneer postmaster. The county remained largely wild until the Laramie, Hahn's Peak & Pacific Railroad arrived from Wyoming in 1911. This road, which was soon...

Cowdrey

By: Thomas J. Noel

Cowdrey (1882, 7,910 feet) was named for homesteader Charles Cowdrey and his wife, Julia, who was killed by a board blown off their roof. This small cattle and supply town near the confluence of the North Platte, Michigan, and Canadian rivers is wrapped around the Cowdrey General Store,...

Larimer County

By: Thomas J. Noel

One of Colorado's seventeen original counties, Larimer consists of irrigated valleys and level plains in the east that climb to foothills and Rocky Mountain National Park on the west. Beginning in the early 1800s fur trappers and miners explored the Cache la Poudre and Big Thompson...

Fort Collins

By: Thomas J. Noel

The county seat (1873, 4,984 feet), on the Cache la Poudre River, started in 1864 as an army post named for Lieutenant Colonel William O. Collins. The army left in 1867, but the town persisted, thanks to pioneers such as Elizabeth (“Auntie”) Stone, who opened her cabin as the first...

Berthoud

By: Thomas J. Noel

Berthoud (1875, 5,030 feet) was founded by the Colorado Central Railroad and named for that road's chief surveyor, Edward L. Berthoud. Unlike pre-railroad towns such as Bellvue, Berthoud was laid out on a grid plan. The old depot, with an entry addition, has been converted to the Lions...

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