Center for Women’s History – Denver, Colorado
The Center for Colorado Women’s History focuses on scholarship, research, lectures, tours, and exhibits that expand the understanding of women.
In law school, I focused my work on The Status of Women. When I saw that Denver had a museum on the history of women, I knew I had to visit! The Byers–Evans House Museum seeks to expand the understanding of and collective memory of the history of women in Colorado. I loved this historic home, which uniquely connects local stories to the broader stories of women’s history worldwide.
I enjoyed learning about the history of women in Colorado, which had some of our nation’s first female legislators and seeks to narrow gender pay gaps today. Thank you to the staff for the tour and for sharing your knowledge about women and race! I learned a lot and derived inspiration from learning about the inspiring women who made The Byers-Evans House their home from 1883-1981.
This historic home has been beautifully restored to the era of 1912-1924 and is furnished with the family’s original belongings. For Christmas, it was decorated very nicely with period ornament replicas!
Guided house tours weave together the stories of the many women, such as Anne Evans – the first woman to serve as the president of the Denver Public Library commission (who has a strong legacy in the Civic Center area, surrounding this house, where she lived for 40 years) – and the impact of prominent and philanthropic families on early Denver.
Planning a trip outside of Denver?
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Kauffman House Museum – Grand Lake, Colorado
See a fascinating glimpse of the people and places in early Grand Lake.
Duration: ~1.5 hours
Monday, Thursdays, Friday & Saturday: 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday: 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Seniors (65+): $6
Students (13+): $6
Youth (6-12): $4
Child (5 & under): Free
Military: Free for active military and their family from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
History Colorado Member: Free (timed ticket required)
Surface lots and metered parking are available nearby. The most convenient garage is the Civic Center Cultural Complex Garage at 12th & Broadway. Accessible parking is available in the garage and at metered spaces on 13th and 14th Avenues.
I parked on the street, and the two-hour limit was the perfect amount of time for my visit.
The Byers-Evans House
The house was built in 1883 for William and Elizabeth Byers and was sold to William and Cornelia Evans in 1889. Members of the Evans family lived here until 1981 and donated the house and its contents to History Colorado. Members of both families played pivotal roles in Denver’s early growth by helping to establish and develop religious, educational, legal, and social institutions – including the Denver and Northern Railroad Company, the Denver Public Library, the University of Denver, the Denver Art Museum, Women’s Council of Defense, the regional Red Cross, and Fitzsimmons Hospital.
The Italianate-style house is listen in the National Register of Historic Places. Landscape improvements, including the patio and refurbished main entrance, were completed in 2007. History Colorado followed federal preservation standards, intended to promote responsible historic preservation practices. Inspiration was taken from the original materials and design, but the goal was not to replicate the original driveway. Instead, a terrace with a contemporary use was created to complement the historic home. Early twentieth-century photographs were consulted during project planning.
The home features a vast book collection and fireplaces throughout, as well as ornate furnishings. There are odes to Southwestern and Native American culture through art and design. The various rooms also feature pictures of different family members and reflect their individual interests.
There are various sitting rooms, and even a prayer closet. My favorite was this beautiful sunroom. I would love to read here 🙂
The Evolution of Women’s Rights
Residents of the house witnessed a great amount of change in their lifetimes. They lived through extreme social and political shifts, particularly for women. Not only was the suffrage movement successful, but women gained access to identification, bank account ownership, and credit (all of which they have needed their father or husband to sign off on prior to the 20th century).
The women who lived in this home played large roles in Denver society. At different points in time, there were a number of extended family members (like aunts and cousins) who also lived here.
Marriage as a class concept…
This museum demonstrated class-based experiences of the late Victorian era. The servants, who operated the home throughout the years, lived in the house where they worked. The family had a longterm cook, as well as a housekeeper. These positions were filled by a few German and Swedish women who were involved in their churches and ethnic communities.
At the time of suffrage, women of the service class entered into work at private homes until they were married. After marriage, they would leave to live with their husbands and would find live-out work if there was a financial need. It was striking to me that women who had access to inheritances – like the last owner – often did not get married as they could remain at their family homes.
St. Elizabeth’s Church – Denver, Colorado
This Catholic church was built in the late 1800s for German immigrants.