Discover Alameda History Icons

Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District

Self-guided Sidewalk History Tour

Photo Provided by Gary Keith Sowell

Booker T. Sowell 1919-1991

Location: Corner of W. Alameda Ave. and S. Pierce St. (SE Corner)

Biography provided by Gary Keith Sowell, son of Booker T. Sowell:

Booker T. Sowell was born on October 29, 1919, in San Augustine, Texas, as the oldest of four – two boys and two girls. His mother died after giving birth to his youngest sister.  His father was sent to prison after shooting a government agent. Mr. Sowell enlisted in the US Army and trained in Arizona, with the 365 company. In 1940 Sowell was assigned to the U.S. 92nd Infantry Division, later known as the “Buffalo Soldier” division, deploying to La Spezia and Genoa in the Serchio Valley in Italy. After the war, Booker returned to his hometown in Texas but felt he needed to move on with his life.

He traveled north to find a more rewarding lifestyle. He caught a train to Colorado and found work with a housing developer in Jefferson County. After a few months, he was able to bring his family to Denver. Sowell was interested in purchasing the home but ran into issues with the owner, who was afraid to sell the house because of laws at the time. In 1946 it was illegal to sell property to a Black man or for a Black man to own property in the county. However, Sowell had a Jewish friend who helped him buy the property, making Sowell the first Black man to live and own property in Jefferson County, Colorado. Booker had nine children who were successful athletes in Jefferson County Public Schools.

The Geico Building 1972 – 2012

Location: West Alameda Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard

History: Built in 1972, the six-story circular Belmar Office Tower, otherwise known as The Geico Building, stood at West Alameda Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard. The round tower design was part of an architectural trend going around the country at that time. The building was an iconic Lakewood landmark for decades but fell into poor condition and was slated for demolition in 2012. Rather than using conventional demolition methods, the contractor deconstructed the building to maximize recycling opportunities for the waste.


Ute History Icon designed by artist Denise “Vamp” Zubizarreta, an interdisciplinary artist and independent researcher.

Ute History Icon designed by artist Denise “Vamp” Zubizarreta, an interdisciplinary artist and independent researcher.

Circle of Life

Location: Corner of W. Alameda Ave. and S. Saulsbury St. (SW Corner).

History: The People of the early Ute Tribes lived a life in harmony with nature, each other, and all of life. The Circle of Life symbolizes all aspects of life. The Circle represents the Cycle of Life from birth to death of People, animals, all creatures, and plants. The early Uto People understood this cycle. They saw its reflection in all things. This brought them great wisdom and comfort. The Eagle is the spiritual guide of the People and of all things. Traditionally, The Eagle appears in the middle of the Circle.

The Circle is divided into four sections. In the Circle of Life, each section represents a season: spring is red, summer is yellow, fall is white, and winter is black. The Circle of Life joins together the seasonal cycles and the life cycles. Spring represents infancy, a time of birth, of newness-the time of “spring Mon, Bear Goes Out.” Summer is Youth. This is a time of curiosity, dancing, and singing. Fall represents Adulthood, the time of manhood and womanhood. This is the time of harvesting and of change – “When Trees Turn Yellow” and Falling Leaf Time.” Winter begins for gaining wisdom and knowledge – of “Could Weather Here.” Winter represents Old Age; a time to prepare for passing into the spirit world.

The Circle also symbolizes the annual journey of the People. In this journey, the People moved from their winter camp to the mountains in the spring.

The Hallack House – 1878-1940

Location: W. Alameda Ave. and S. Teller St. (at the Cinemark Century Theater)

History: The Hallack house was Lakewood’s original haunted mansion! The Hallack estate sprawled across what is now Belmar. In 1870 Denver lumber baron Charles Hallack bought 3 sections of land on South Pierce Street in what is now the Belmar area. Around 1878 he built a magnificent red brick summer house four stories high with a ballroom on the top floor. The mansion stood at the end of a long tree lined lane and featured glazed tile colonial revival style fireplaces, flagstone window sills, ornate brass hardware and solid oak doors. Charles Hallack died in 1906 and left the house to his son who tragically died the same year. Charles Hallack’s wife Rachel inherited the mansion and mysteriously left it to slowly deteriorate. Once abandoned, vandals moved in and stripped the home of much of the hardware and fireplace tiles. The mansion was torn down around 1940 by a contractor who salvaged the remaining fine materials to use in building new homes.

The Everitt-Addenbrooke Farm – 1876

Location: SW Corner of Alameda and Garrison

History: John Edward Everitt is one of Lakewood’s earliest pioneers! In the late 1860s he traveled from Ohio with his parents in an ox drawn wagon. Everitt initially settled with his family in Denver but being a restless young man set out to find land of his own. In 1876 he established a homestead of 160 acres on the land south of Alameda and west of Garrison Street. He grew hay and vegetables, raised draft and racehorses and started a freight business. The farm ultimately grew to over 400 acres. Everitt ran into trouble with his legal claim to the land located on a Union Pacific Railroad right of way. In 1895 President Grover Cleveland signed a patent granting the 160 acres to Everitt and his family. The land ultimately passed to the Addenbrookes by marriage. In 1978 the City of Lakewood purchased the land to develop Addenbrooke Park, formally dedicated in 1989. The iconic windmill standing watch on Garrison was restored in 1990 as a reminder of one of Lakewood’s early pioneer families.

The Tally Ho – 1960-1993 ​

Location: NW Corner of Alameda and Yarrow

History: Long before Belmar or Lakewood Commons, the Tally Ho was the place to be in Lakewood!  In 1960 Marvin and Victor Lederman founded the Tally Ho Supper Club on the site of an old pizzeria surrounded by empty fields at Alameda and Wadsworth.  It featured cocktails, lunch and dinner menus and music by the Billy Wilson Trio.  In the mid-1960s they sold the Tally Ho to Billy Wilson and his business partner Joel Barron. In subsequent years the Tally Ho became a local hangout and the place where “everything happened” in Lakewood including birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions, Alameda High School staff meetings, and planning sessions for Lakewood’s successful 1969 incorporation.  A number of celebrities dropped in including TV stars James Garner and Lorne Green and sports figures Casey Stengel and Lyle Alzado.  The Tally Ho burned down in 1971 and was rebuilt even larger.  Joel Barron passed away in 1984 and Billy Wilson operated the restaurant for a few more years.  The building was torn down in 1993 and today the Olive Garden stands in its place.

On the Road, Jack Kerouac in Lakewood 1949​

Location: SW Corner of Alameda and Harlan

History: Beat author Jack Kerouac electrified the literary world with publication of On the Road in 1957. The book tells the story of a series of cross-country trips in which he frequently visited Denver. He moved to Colorado in 1949 after selling his first novel, The Town and the City. Using proceeds from the advance on that book he purchased a home on West Center Avenue in what was then unincorporated Jefferson County. While living there he wrote to a friend about his home, “just an hour ago I was standing in my yard looking at the great heat lightening over the plains, and west over the mountains…I had a desire to go in both directions at the same time”. Jack Kerouac made notes for On the Road in small notebooks he carried with him. He started writing the first draft outline of On the Road while living in his Lakewood house. He sold the house later in 1949 and moved to San Francisco. Kerouac completed the first full draft of the book in a frenzied 3 week writing session in 1951. On the Road is viewed as a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, selling over 3 million copies and counting. Today the Jack Kerouac home remains a private residence.

The Peterson Ranch 1907-1954

Location: Along Alameda at the Chase St seating area

History: The Peterson family could be called the superheroes of the tough breed of farmers who came to Lakewood early in the 20th century. Swedish immigrant Frank Peterson arrived in Colorado in 1891 and worked as a miner in Georgetown and Silver Plume for several years. He returned to Sweden around 1900 where he married and came back to America in 1905 to avoid the Swedish military draft. In January 1907 Frank and his wife Amanda bought the five- acre Smith Farm just north of West Bayaud and Depew along with a farmhouse, farm buildings and equipment. He quickly set about improving the property and acquired adjoining land as it became available. In 1915 he bought 40 acres at the NW corner of Sheridan and Alameda. Ultimately, the Peterson Ranch covered the entire area along Alameda from Sheridan west to Harlan and north to West First Avenue. The early years of mining took a severe toll on Frank Peterson’s health. He suffered from miner’s consumption or black lung disease and passed away in 1926. The Peterson family continued to raise crops and livestock on this land until 1954.

Photo provided by the Lakewood Heritage Center

Villa Italia 1966-2001

Location: NW Corner of Alameda and Teller

History: Looking south across Alameda stood the vast Villa Italia Mall built by developer Gerri Von Frellick. Upon completion in 1966 “Villa” was over 500,000 square feet, making it one of the largest enclosed malls in the world. With its distinctive Italian design Villa became a prime shopping destination in the Denver region and the symbolic center and gathering place of the new City of Lakewood incorporated in 1969. After a period of decline in the late 1990’s Villa closed in 2001 and was demolished in 2002. One part of the original mall can still be seen today, the Foley’s Department Store building was repurposed as the Belmar Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Fun Fact: Developer Gerri Von Frellick had a distinct vision of re-creating the feel of Italy at Villa Italia!  He collaborated on the design with Charles Stanton (husband of May Bonfils-Stanton) using the Galleria of Milan Italy as inspiration.  Attendees of the 3-day grand opening in March, 1966 were awed by towering columns topped by statues of early Roman figures, classical fountains and graceful arches supported by Terrazzo floors.  Other innovations included a merry go round and convention hall for community use.​

Belmar est. 2004

Location: SE Corner of Alameda and Teller

History: As Villa Italia declined the City opted to take action and start looking for a developer to help them imagine how a mall might one day evolve into a real downtown. This process eventually led the city to Continuum Partners and a remarkable public-private partnership was formed to give the property new life and once again transform the area. From the ruins of the deteriorating Villa Italia mall arose Belmar. The new 22-city block downtown designed in the style of a mid-twentieth century industrial streetscape included over 50 new buildings laid out on a brand-new network of streets and sidewalks with a plaza and ice rink at its center. Today Belmar is the thriving heart of Lakewood!
Fun Fact: Belmar was designed with sustainability in mind featuring 8,370 solar panels producing 2.3 million megawatts of energy annually and a wind farm generating 700-900 kilowatt hours of electric power per month.  85% of the material from Villa Italia was recycled as fill material for Belmar!

Photo provided by the Lakewood Heritage Center

Belmar Mansion 1937-1973

Location: NE Corner of Alameda and Teller

History: In 1933 May Bonfils-Stanton, heiress to the Denver Post newspaper fortune, inherited 10 acres of land on Kountze Lake to the southwest across Wadsworth. In 1937 she built the stately 20 room Belmar Mansion with 10 acres of magnificently landscaped grounds. The mansion, built of concrete covered with terra cotta glaze to resemble marble, was designed as a replica of Marie Antoinette’s Petite Trianon Chateau. The mansion was torn down in 1971 but the gates still stand near the entrance to the Lakewood Heritage Center and original boat house is preserved in Belmar Park.
Fun Fact: According to some accounts, in the final weeks prior to demolition of the mansion in 1970 a band of hippies moved in to take over the premises.  They were soon evicted but allowed to happily haul away anything they found useful to build their new commune outside Taos, NM.

Belmar Farms 1933-1962

Location: NW Corner of Alameda and Teller

History: The area of Belmar you see to the south was once part of Belmar Farms created by May-Bonfils on the land surrounding her estate, primarily as a hobby farm and to further protect her privacy. She raised Black Angus cattle and prized Suffolk sheep, milk cows and chickens and oats and barley in the outlying fields. May entered some of her finest livestock in the Colorado State Fair. She also created a private nature preserve on her estate with a herd of deer and peacocks. Some of the original Belmar Farms buildings are preserved today in Belmar Park including the calving barn, auction house and caretaker’s cottage.
Fun Fact: Belmar Farms included a garden with fruits and vegetables.  In the 1950’s and 60’s local boys from the area liked to scale the high fence and evade the armed guards and dogs to help themselves to watermelons from May’s garden!

Photo courtesy of the Lakewood Police Department, circa 1971

City of Lakewood Incorporation 1969

Location: SW Corner of Alameda and Wadsworth

History: The largely rural area that ultimately became Lakewood changed dramatically during WWII when wartime production at the Denver Ordinance Plant (now Denver Federal Center) brought extraordinary population growth. This trend continued after the war with construction of numerous subdivisions. The population of Jefferson County grew by 80% during the 1940’s and doubled again in the 1950’s. In June 1969 the City of Lakewood incorporated by vote of the people after several failed attempts dating back to 1947. The new city spanned 26-square miles and created one of the largest incorporations in the country at that time.
Fun Fact: Lakewood was originally named Jefferson City in the June 1969 incorporation vote.  The name Jefferson City was unpopular with residents and a range of other names were suggested to replace it including Lunar City and Apollo to celebrate the recent moon landings.  There was even a compromise option of Ala-Jeff-Wood.  Fortunately, in a vote held in November of 1969 voters selected the more traditional Lakewood.

Alameda Corridor Business Improvement District (ACBID)

Location: SE Corner of Alameda and Wadsworth

History: The Alameda Corridor Business improvement District was established by Lakewood City ordinance in 2003 to improve the West Alameda area from Sheridan to Carr Street. Within the corridor business property owners voted to tax themselves to make their community cleaner, safer and more vibrant. ACBID continues to serve the area through numerous public art installations, landscaping, public event sponsorships and support for community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Jefferson County.​
Fun Fact: After years of planning, in 2022 ACBID launched its Discover Alameda trail linking together its dozens of public artworks and history icon and creating a unique user experience.  Discover Alameda is a 5-mile point to point bike/walk path connecting segmented loops.

A screenshot of this undated historic photograph submitted to the National Register of Historic Places pictures life around the Schnell farm. (Photo from the National Register of Historic Places

Schnell Farms. Photo from the National Register of Historic Places

Lakewood Agricultural Heritage

Location: NE Corner of Alameda and Wadsworth

History: Lakewood’s agricultural roots dates to its earliest settlers in the 1860’s. Apple orchards, dairies and turkey farms once dotted the largely treeless area of West Alameda. One of the most prominent farms in this area was the O’Kane Farm and Harp Dairy located to the northeast at West First Avenue between Teller and Newland streets. The original O’Kane farmhouse dating to the 1890’s can be seen today preserved at O’Kane Park. As late as the 1940’s it was not uncommon to see ranching families like the Peterson’s drive their cattle to market along the sides of West Alameda
Fun Fact: Many of Lakewood’s early homesteads were acquired with military land warrants for 160 acres.  Military warrants were often issued to officers and enlisted men either as an incentive for enlistment or as a bonus for service.  The original land grant for the land where Lakewood City Hall and Belmar Park is located was a military warrant to Abby Craig, widow of Alexander Craig, veteran of the war of 1812.

Alameda Ave. Extension Project WPA 1935-1937

Location: NW Corner of Alameda and Wadsworth

History: In the midst of the Great Depression in 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) started work on the Alameda Extension Project connecting Denver with Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. Denver Parks Department Director George Cramner had envisioned West Alameda Avenue as a beautiful, tree-lined boulevard. 5000 men labored by hand for 2 years to build the road, which officially opened in 1937 and is commemorated with a plaque located at the northwest corner of Alameda and Sheridan. To the west, WPA crews uncovered dinosaur tracks today protected as part of Dinosaur Ridge National Natural Landmark.​
Fun Fact: Prior to construction by the WPA in 1935 Alameda Avenue did not extend west of Sheridan Blvd. into Jefferson County.  Construction of the Alameda Extension happened to coincide with building of the Belmar Mansion by May Bonfils-Stanton.

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