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Lakewood

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Lakewood (1892, 5,440 feet) was platted in 1889 by William A. H. Loveland, the ubiquitous pioneer who also promoted Golden, built railroads, and in 1878 became the owner of the Rocky Mountain News. Lakewood first flourished as a health spa with the opening of the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society in 1904. Started as a tent colony, the JCRS evolved into a major tuberculosis sanatarium. Lakewood's isolated sanatariums, turkey farms, and ranches were never the same after the start of World War II, which brought construction of the Denver Ordnance Plant. This $35 million federal complex behind chain-link and barbed wire fences was built on the Hayden Ranch, a tract bounded by West 6th and Alameda avenues, between Kipling Street and Union Boulevard. To connect the plant with downtown, West 6th Avenue was rebuilt as Colorado's first freeway, an artery which fostered postwar suburban growth. After peace came in 1945, the plant became the Denver Federal Center, the nation's second largest concentration of federal workers. The complex incorporates major offices for some thirty agencies with about 10,000 employees, of whom 317 can fit into a subterranean bomb shelter to keep the federal government humming in a post–nuclear war world.

Lakewood did not incorporate as a city until 1969, but thereafter began an aggressive annexation campaign that has made it the fourth most populous city in Colorado. The old main street, West Colfax Avenue, has been replaced by Union Boulevard with its concentration of government and private office buildings. Lakewood's grand old mansion, Belmar (1930s, Jacques Benedict), a replica of the Petit Trianon at Versailles, once stood at 739 Wadsworth Boulevard. After demolition in 1970, the 750-acre estate was subdivided for Belmar Park, with its large Kountze Lake; Villa Italia shopping center; the glassy Lakewood Municipal Center (1983, William C. Muchow and Associates), 445 South Allison Parkway; and Historic Belmar Museum and Village, a preserve for landmarks in the path of development. Now a city of more than 130,000, Lakewood consists primarily of post-1940 subdivisions and shopping centers with some architecturally notable enclaves and a handful of landmarks, including the home of town founder William Loveland (1888), at 1435 Harlan Street, a brick vernacular home with Italianate trim. For a pristine recreation of the rural ideal, see the White Fence Farm, a Farm-house/restaurant and model farm complete with petting zoo, all in patriotic Colonial Revival beneath an oversized American flag at 6263 West Jewell Avenue.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Thomas J. Noel

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