Virtual Historic Tours

Welcome

Heritage buildings landscape.

Take a (virtual) stroll through history with our Heritage Lakewood virtual tours! Browse these sections to learn interesting facts and view photos of some of our most popular historic buildings.

If you would like to see these buildings in person, stop by for a walking tour or schedule a guided tour.

Auction House

Circa 1930s

Background

May Bonfils (1883-1962) began to acquire the land around modern-day Kountze Lake in Belmar Park in 1936, and her mansion was completed in 1937 near the current intersection of South Wadsworth Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue. The estate was named Belmar Farms and, although the mansion no longer exists, five outbuildings still remain at Heritage Lakewood. The Caretaker’s Cottage, the Calving Barn, Machinery Sheds, the Granary, and the Auction House have recently been placed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties because of the importance of hobby farms in the 20th century.

At the estate, May and her husband, Charles E. Stanton, raised prize-winning Suffolk sheep and Black Angus cattle. Many farms kept buildings dedicated to auctions on site and the Bonfils Stanton estate used this auction house to sell their livestock until professional auction houses became more common.

Calving Barn

Circa 1910

Background

May Bonfils purchased land where Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park is today in 1936. She married Charles E. Stanton in 1956 and they formed Belmar Development Company in 1959. With this company, they planned Villa Italia Shopping Center and other building projects in the area.

May kept deer which grazed and roamed by Kountze Lake. She surrounded portions of the estate with Russian Olive hedges and chain link fences.

After May’s death in 1962, Charles continued to live at Belmar, raising his wife’s prizewinning Suffolk sheep and Angus cattle. In May of 1970, Mr. Stanton donated the Belmar mansion and ten acres of land to the Denver Catholic Archdiocese.

The Calving Barn, Machinery Sheds, Auction Barn and Caretaker’s Cottage were all part of the Belmar Farm. Except for the Auction Barn, which originally stood where the County School is today, these structures are in their original locations. This barn was originally painted white to match the outbuildings that were once here.

 

Country School

Built 1860s, 1920s interpretation

Background

Originally built at West 68th Avenue and Indiana Street, circa 1867, the building served as the Ralston Crossing Methodist-Episcopal Church. Ralston School District No. 12 received the building on September 30, 1871, after the congregation split. 

In December 1870, 32 students were enrolled in school.  In 1919, the community approved a bond issue to add another room to the school. The 1st through 4th grades were located in the older room, remodeled in 1919. The 5th through 8th grades used the new addition.

In 1956, the school district moved the structure to Vivian Elementary School at 10500 West 25th Avenue, Lakewood. Scheduled for demolition in 1982, the R-1 School District instead donated the building to Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park through the Lakewood Historical Society. It was moved there in September 1983, and later restored.


Ethel's Beauty Salon and Variety Store

Circa 1950s and 1960s

Background

Built in 1948, this building was first used as a laundry/cleaners. During the 1950s it became a five-and-dime store, which is exhibited in the front room. Finally, it became a beauty parlor/barbershop operated by Gil and Ethel Gomez from 1961 to 1996. Ethel’s Beauty Salon, with many of her original fixtures, is featured in the back room. The building was relocated to Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park in 1998.

What architectural style is Gil and Ethel’s? Style can be difficult to define. Sometimes an architect or builder uses elements of more than one style in the same structure. Defining styles is further complicated when the definition includes a time period.

The Art Deco style of architecture, jewelry and industrial design popular between 1920 and 1950, emphasizes vertical lines, with stylized geometric and natural designs. These patterns appear in brick, terra cotta and metal work. Roof lines are often crenellated. Its modern look and playful decorations made it very popular during the Great Depression.

Streamline Moderne emphasizes smooth horizontal lines often by using horizontal banding and curved walls. This style streamlines complex Art Deco designs taking its inspiration from airplanes and ships. Davies’ Diner on Colfax Avenue is an excellent example of this style.

 

Estes Motel

Built 1949

Background

In 1944 Clifford and Christine Estes, Nebraskans who later moved to Colorado, purchased land along West Colfax Avenue just east of Kipling Street. The Estes family built a sizable house in the middle of the lot, likely around 1946-48.

As traffic increased along Colfax, the couple soon decided to modify their property by developing it into the Estes Motel. They did so by building two separate structures consisting of motel rooms around 1948-49. 

The building now on display was located at the northeast end of the property, complete with its own carports, with another building at the southeast corner, while the house remained home to the family who managed the motel. By 1952 the area was peaking to the height of its tourism activity and there were 37 motels along West Colfax Avenue. The Estes Motel, answering to phone number BE 3-5297, was primarily an overnight motel which advertised rates of $4-8 for each of its six units. Many of its clients were vacationers traveling west to see the sights in the Rockies. Since US Highway 40 (Colfax Avenue) was the main east-west route through this part of the country all of the motels alongside it enjoyed a near continual stream of customers. 

The Estes Motel remained in the family throughout the 1950s. After Clifford’s death on August 7, 1959, Christine sold the motel to Joseph Berenbaum of Denver. Despite being in different hands the place continued to be known as the Estes Motel, sporting one of the many neon signs that helped to define Colfax. During the late 1960s and into the 1970s traffic was siphoned away from Colfax by the newly expanded Highway 6 and the creation of Interstate 70. Businesses struggled as traffic diminished and the Estes became more of a weekly rental motel while many others around it ceased operating. Berenbaum continued to run the Estes until it finally closed sometime between 1977 and 1982.

In 2010 the Estes Motel was donated to the City of Lakewood by local businessman Michael Bettmann. The building was moved to Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park where it underwent a complete restoration. 

Farmhouse and Turkey Coop

Built 1880s, 1930s interpretation

Background

Oral history suggests that this structure started out as a carriage house on the Hallack Estate at South Pierce Street and West Alameda Avenue. It is said that in the 1910s, workers rolled the structure on logs to the northeast corner of West Ohio Avenue and South Wadsworth Boulevard. Architectural evidence suggests at least two additions to the house’s central section.

After the move to Ohio Avenue, ownership and use of the house and land changed several times. A fish farm was followed by the Moore sheep farm. Later, by the mid-1940s, Maplecrest Turkey Farm occupied the spot. When plans to widen Wadsworth Boulevard targeted the house for demolition in 1956, May Bonfils Stanton owned it. 

May sold the house to Lucy Webber who moved it to West Yale Avenue at Zuni Street. Again threatened with demolition when Zuni Street was scheduled for widening, the City of Denver purchased the house and deeded it to Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park for preservation. The house was moved there on April 10, 1980.

The turkey coop is built out of a combination of two chicken coops that were used by the Beers Sisters, five sisters who ran a dairy farm in south Lakewood from 1909 to 1945. 

 

 

Streer-Peterson House

Built 1880s, 1920s interpretation

Background

Built circa 1885, the Streer-Peterson House originally stood on Morrison Road near Bear Creek. The Streer family owned and lived in the house from 1918 to 1921. This family operated the Morrison Farm Dairy. The Peterson family owned the property from 1939 to 1975. The Peterson family also ran a dairy — Lakewood Farm Dairy. The Cason Howell Windmill (1922) cycled water from a well. 

The Streers were Jewish and immigrated from eastern Europe to Colorado. The Streer family grew vegetables in the garden behind the house. An orchard provided fruit for the family and possibly provided a bit of extra income depending on the yield.

The house sat empty for many years until threatened by the Mount Carbon Dam Project and was purchased by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1975. Finally, in 1986 it was moved to Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park. 

White Way Grill

1948

Background

First starting in the 19th century as lunch wagons, some restaurants became known as diners in the 1920s. Needing additional space for burners, griddles and iceboxes to serve increasingly commercial areas, many 1920s diners became too big to be moved by train or truck and were built directly on site.

Most companies survived the 1929 stock market crash, but still had to make smaller sizes or streamline production using new and improved architectural techniques including Formica, glass blocks and stainless steel. During World War II, the production of new diners slowed down as manufacturers and owners reconditioned old diner shells. It was also more common to see women working behind the counters as many needed the money following the Great Depression, women's rights started to be an issue and many men were abroad at war.

Once the war was over, diners changed architecturally to a more fluid look using steel construction. 1950s diners also included more booth space as a good economy and women in the workforce encouraged families to eat out more often. Davies’ Diner on Colfax opened in 1957 during the Diner-Restaurant craze. Diners began to decline as fast food restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King opened in the late 1950s. 

The White Way Grill was manufactured by the Valentine Diner Company in Wichita, Kansas. The founder, Arthur Valentine, wanted to give western and midwestern states a cheaper alternative to shipping from the East Coast. This model, designed by Richard Ten Eyck in the 1940s and called an “Aristocrat”—the smallest of the “Little Chef” models—has eight stools, a rounded parapet above the door and buttresses at the corners. There are several other Valentine Diners still open in Buena Vista, Colorado Springs, Lake City and Pueblo.

Located just east of the Aurora Fox Theater at 9842 East Colfax until 2003, the name was a reference to the “Great White Way” of bright lights in theater districts, like that of New York City. The neon White Way Grill sign is a reproduction of the original sign which would be illuminated only when the diner was open.

 

The grill gets a new coat of paint

 

Photo Gallery