Elegant Country Club
With a name like Country Club, our expectations for walking this Denver neighborhood were pretty high. We weren’t disappointed. With several historic districts shaped within the official Country Club boundary from 8th Ave to Alameda, Downing to University, every corner drips with its own unique blend of understated posh. Here’s the story of our Country Club urban hike.
Big, Bigger, Biggest
From giant castles originally owned by Mary Dean Reed to less big homes like that of Denver Mayor Speer to petite doll house homes, walking through Country Club requires lots of gawking. Not one home looks like another. The Denver Country Club and its golf course sit square in the middle of the entire neighborhood, although the southern end seems a bit cut off from its historic northern neighbors.
Denver’s best architects, including Olmstead, Fisher and Hoyt, did some of their best work here. A group of wealthy Denverites organized the Overland Park Club and soon changed its name to Denver Country Club. In 1902, the 120 acres of wheat field along Cherry Creek were made into the sporting club. Needing a place to live, these same folks created the Fourth Avenue Real Estate Company and purchased land north of 1st, which ultimately become Country Club neighborhood.
And Many Denver Squares
Divided into several different areas depending on the size of the home, the rich and Denver famous built their homes, making an L-shaped pocket of castles and mansions. Squaring out the neighborhood in the other L-shape are many Denver Squares and a few bungalows, many as charming but maybe not as spectacular as their larger neighbors.
While walking through the neighborhood, you’ll see the historic entry gates of the four distinct areas (Park Club Place, Country Club Place, Country Club Annex, and Park Club Lane, chronologically.) The western half of the neighborhood made the Historic Register first, followed by Country Club Historic District. A total of 380 homes make up the original L-shape. Additionally, there’s a 27-page Design Guidelines book all residences must adhere to when changing their original structures.
Doll House Row
After getting your fill of large and grandiose, you’ll want to sneak onto Williams between 4th and 5th. (By the way, 2nd Ave doesn’t exist in this neighborhood due to Mayor Speer wanting more backyard!) In this quaint block, you’ll find several original, smaller homes, affectionately known as Doll House Row.
It’s easy to get lost in the twisty-turny, misaligned roads in Country Club. So if you get off the route below, don’t worry. Just keep walking and enjoy the view of this Country Club urban hiking adventure. See the route, map, and turn-by-turn directions below.
Start at 747 Williams St in Little Cheesman Park. Head south to E 7th Ave, turn right. At Franklin turn left and walk to 6th Ave. Turn right.
At Humboldt St, turn left. Turn right on E 5th Ave. At Lafayette St, turn left. At E 4th Ave, turn left.
At Humboldt St again, turn right. You’ll pass 375 and 368 Humboldt, notice the two houses. Both were built by Hoyt, who also built Red Rocks and other homes in the neighborhood. Both houses are very distinct and different from each other.
Continue south on Humboldt to the corner of 3rd and Humboldt. At the NE corner sits a large, white brick house built for Mayor Speer. Rumor has it that he wanted a larger yard, so he moved 2nd St. The house was originally red brick and was recently painted white.
Go behind Speer’s house and walk up the alley to 4th Ave. Turn right, and you’ll start seeing the gates for this section of Country Club. Enter right through the original gate to the Country Club on Franklin. Go south on Franklin.
Admire the large homes on both sides of the street. At 1st, turn left. Notice the Denver Country Club across the street. Turn left on Gilpin Street.
Take a right on E 4th Ave and continue east following the not-quite-aligned 4th Ave to the east through the traffic circles.
At Circle Drive, take a left. You’ll quickly notice the large mansion on the left at 475 Circle Drive. Once owned by bank/ranching/mining baron who died and left the property to his wife, Mary Dean Reed, the interior mantel actually has dwarfs carved into it. Don’t miss the garden emblem on the garden house at the south side of the property. Ms. Reed commissioned the house at 505 Circle Drive for her sister.
Continue around the circle to 545 Circle Dr, which is where architect Hoyt lived, and continuing south to 515 Race is where that home was donated to the University of Denver Chancellor to live until it was sold after his death.
Take a right on 5th. At Williams, turn left and walk down Doll House Row. Make a u-turn, turning north, taking Williams back to where you started at Little Cheesman Park, completing your 2.5 mile urban hike.