As Denver experienced growth in the early 1900s, first-rate services and public amenities were provided in the city’s flourishing districts. In the area of Jefferson Park, the elementary school now known as the Boulevard School was constructed with the highest quality architecture to serve the growing neighborhood’s children. Located on the west side of Federal Boulevard between West 23rd and West 24th Avenues, the Boulevard School contained a swimming pool, a spacious principal’s office, and many other well-appointed spaces, all built behind a high-integrity retaining wall now at least 108 years old.
As Denver moved into modern times, new, larger schools were constructed to meet the demands of a populous major city. This made the Boulevard School irrelevant. Instead of allowing the property to fall into disrepair or be left vacant for many decades, investors saw the value of the school. After much modification of interior space, the Boulevard School has been repurposed as a highly sought-after condominium building. Condos are found in the old gym space, in what were classrooms, and, in what is perhaps the prime unit, the former principal’s office. Desks and other relics of the past remain in its hallways as a reminder of times long gone. Added to the building are more contemporary amenities, such as balconies, patios, a community garden, and a laundry room. Still, the old intercom system remains for the benefit of Boulevard School’s residents.
The repurposing of the Boulevard School represents a growing, and important, trend in urban design. In downtown Denver, the large-scale urban revitalization of the latter part of the last century destroyed most of the historic architecture of the urban core. While this action allowed for the development of the highly-successful urban core we enjoy today, the character of historic Denver is now found largely in the history books. You can no longer see it for yourself, and in fact, the one-building-per-block design we see today almost seems not on a human scale. Of course, there are individual exceptions throughout the city, such as the Boulevard School and select buildings in Capitol Hill.
Here are a few additional photos of the school over the years, courtesy of Denver Public Library.