Mike Massey 1946-2022 Written by Rebecca Kast, HLi Board Member
Mike Massey was a lawyer, a husband and a father. He was also an irrepressible, multi-talented community builder whose efforts included the Littleton Leadership Retreat, the Littleton Theatre Company, the Littleton Riverfront Authority, Riverfest, the Arapahoe County Scientific, Cultural and Facilities District Board, and Littleton Unlimited, which developed a community inspired strategic plan.
Mike was a visionary with a lot of ideas to improve Littleton and Arapahoe County. But he also liked to have fun, writing and performing in several Fiascoes ( an annual community spoof). Mike was always so enthusiastic that he inspired people to work hard for whatever effort he was promoting. He was honored as Littleton’s most valuable citizen in 1992.
Mike once said, “Of all the things I’ve done in Littleton and elsewhere, I think I’m proudest of Historic Littleton.”
In 1990 Littleton celebrated its centennial. While Mike was working on the Centennial Committee, he became concerned that nothing was being done to preserve Littleton’s heritage. Mike felt Main Street was the heart of Littleton and he wanted to ensure the survival of its turn-of-the-century buildings for another 100 years. So he came up with the idea of creating a non-profit, called the Second Century Fund, that could solicit funds from individuals, government, and corporations to provide low-cost loans to property owners who wanted to restore their Main Street buildings.
Today Main Street is such a bustling, vibrant part of Littleton that it’s hard to remember back when some of downtown’s storefronts were shuttered, buildings were dilapidated, and the merchants and city officials were arguing about how best to keep Main Street from dying.
The Second Century Fund was organized in 1990. Mike wrote the bylaws and became the first Chairman of a board that consisted of local business owners, bankers and other citizens. The SCF was ready when the first money from the State Historic Fund was distributed in 1992.
A grant of $10,000 was given to the Main Street Preservation Program to help property owners restore the facades of their buildings. The Two Potters building and Season’s (the Coors Building) were the first two buildings to receive grant money.
The Second Century Fund held several auctions to raise money and initiated a series of “Renewal Dinners” to raise awareness of the importance of renewing Littleton’s buildings. SCF also funded the survey to place the Littleton Main Street District on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Mike always felt historic preservation should be incorporated with economic development. He wanted preservation to be viewed as something desirable, so when the City of Littleton took on the administrative role of preservation, the Second Century Fund became Historic Littleton, Inc., a membership non-profit open to anyone who wants to help preserve Littleton’s history and buildings. HLI focuses on educating people about preservation through tours, lectures and special events.
Mike stepped down from the Chairmanship of the HLI board in 2002, but he continued as an enthusiastic HLI board member the rest of his life. In 2022, Mike and Kathie Massey left a generous donation to HLI.
HLI is dedicated to fulfilling Mike’s vision that Main Street’s historic buildings will be preserved for another 100 years.