Bates to Dartmouth, and Franklin to Marion
Can you imagine an open house attended by 4,000 people? That’s exactly what happened in Arapahoe Acres in 1950! The first and only post-World War II residential neighborhood to ever be named to the National Register of Historic Places, Arapahoe Acres is located just south of Denver, and was developed by Edward B. Hawkins beginning in 1949.
Hawkins, a Colorado native, moved to Chicago and began studying Frank Lloyd Wright’s work prior to joining the Civilian Conservation Corps and returning to Denver in 1942. Though not classically trained in architecture, Hawkins developed a keen eye for building and began construction on homes in Park Hill and Montclair shortly after arriving back in Denver.
Returning GIs from WWII led to a huge housing boom and Hawkins was on the cutting edge of development with his purchase of 30 acres in Englewood in 1949. The area spanned from Bates to Dartmouth, and Franklin to Marion. With a program created by Revere Copper and Brass Company in collaboration with the Housing Research Institute, a plan was made to promote “quality modern design” as well as their own products. The Revere Quality House Program required a professional architect (which Hawkins was not) so Eugene Sternberg, a DU professor, was called in.
Sternberg designed 20 homes in Arapahoe Acres prior to a falling out with Hawkins, who then designed the remainder of the subdivision. With a focus on using concrete, glass, and aluminum, the architectural designs here are predominately International Style and Usonian (a Frank Lloyd Wright idea which expressed a Japanese influence and efficiency in terms of space). Unlike any other development in the city, Arapahoe Acres contains quite diverse lot sizes and homes were situated on the lots to emphasize both privacy and also the best light. Streets are curvy to reflect the natural lay of the land.
With the opening of Arapahoe Acres’ show home, the Rickard House, in 1950, the popularity of the neighborhood was apparent. Thousands of people came, setting the stage for the continued interest in and love for this unique neighborhood for decades to come.