Early History

Historic Littleton is capturing the present to preserve the past.

Explore Littleton’s historic early-century landmarks and read how these structures played a key role in establishing the culture and heritage of Littleton.
Photography and copy by Mike Yost
Source for copy:  Littletongov.org

Arapahoe County Courthouse | 1908

On January 17, 1908, almost 1,500 Littleton residents and visitors attended the grand opening of Littleton’s now iconic Arapaho County Courthouse.

Architect John J. Huddart was awarded the contract to design the courthouse at a cost of $51,845.  The first cornerstone for the building was laid by Littleton’s Weston Masonic Lodge in 1907.  The building was lit with electricity that had only been brought to Littleton five years before.

The roof is hipped and topped with decorative finials, and the second story features windows with clathri transoms.  In 1948, a new wing was added to the structure’s west wing.

This regal courthouse stood empty from 1987 to 1988, with the exception of a few bats and raccoons who took up residence in their new spacious home.

But the historic-minded citizens of Littleton worked to ensure that this notable landmark was eventually renovated and restored to its original luster, with court proceeding resuming in May of 2000.

In 1998, the Arapahoe County Courthouse was officially declared a landmark by the City of Littleton.

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Depot | 1888

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe  Railroad Depot was built in 1888 to accommodate the first Santa Fe line that reached Littleton the year before.  It was a first located north of the Denver & Rio Grande Depot.

The design was similar to other railroad depots, with batten siding and a bay ticket window which faces the railroad tracks.  The gabled roof features eaves which hang over the walls to provide waiting passengers shelter from the rain.

The depot was closed in 1967 due to a sharp decline in rail use and the entire structure was moved to Rio Grande Park (now Bega Park). 

Littleton designated the depot a historic landmark in 1973, and the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. 

That same year, the depot was restored and moved yet again to its current location at 2069 Powers Avenue, becoming Littleton’s Depot Art Center.   

 The 1898-vintage caboose, originally owned by Colorado & Southern Railroad, was donated to Littleton and placed next to the depot on rails.


The Batschelet Building | 1908

The Littleton Historic Museum considers the Batschelet Building “one of the finest remaining turn-of-the-century structures in downtown Littleton.” 

Built by Edward F. Batschelet in 1908 on West Main Street, the building was first utilized as headquarters for a Democratic rally in October of that same year.  US Senator Henry M. Teller and State Senator Ed Taylor spoke to Littleton citizens during the rally.

The One Price Cash House Company was the first store to occupy the first floor of the building, and the second floor—which features 14-foot ceilings—was used as both an opera house and a meeting space for public forums.

In the 1950’s, the structure was home to the Heckethorn Manufacturing and Supply Company.

The most prominent historic architectural element of the Batschelet Building is the cornice which runs along the top of the structure, featuring decorative brackets and a dentil molding frieze.

The building was declared a historical landmark by the city of Littleton in 1994.

The Bemis Property

This historic landmark belonged to Edwin A. Bemis, publisher of The Littleton Independent from 1919 to 1966. Bemis also founded the National Association of State Press Field Managers, the Colorado Society of Trade Association Directors, and the Rocky Mountain Advertising Managers Association. 

Littleton’s Bemis library was named to commemorate his work in the community, including the co-creation of the first Littleton Planning Committee.

Bemis was an archivist, taking pictures of Littleton and collecting artifacts, many of which are featured in the Littleton History Museum. 
Historic Littleton advocated for the renovation of the Bemis House in 2005, and today, the home serves as headquarters for Littleton’s Western Welcome Week. 

Carnegie Library | 1917

This striking landmark that sits at the end of Littleton’s historic Main Street was first home to Littleton’s public library, which opened in August of 1917.

The structure was designed by architect Jacques Jules Benois Benedict (who also designed Littleton’s Town Hall) and built at a cost of $8,000, most of the funds coming from the Carnegie Foundation. 

Benedict utilized Beaux-Arts architecture design (from his training in Paris), featuring an Italian Renaissance style with Palladian windows on the front of the building.  At the top of each arch is a decorative keystone, and the ceiling of the arched entrance features a terracotta flower motif.     

For a time, the library was the epicenter of the Littleton community, serving as headquarters for the Colorado Works Administration during the Depression by providing jobs for women in biding books.  During World War II, the building housed a “Bundles for Britain” festival and a Red Cross service project.

The library was moved out of the building in 1965, and the structure was used as a police station, followed by a discotheque named “Pistachio’s”, and then became home to several restaurants, most recently The Melting Pot. 

The city of Littleton declared the Carnegie Library a historic landmark in 1973.

Columbine Mill | 1901

Built in 1901, the Columbine Mill is the only standing grain elevator in the Denver-metro area, housed in one of the oldest buildings in Littleton.

The outside walls feature corrugated metal with a gabled roof and a shed-roof added to the north side of the elevator. 

The structure was originally used as a grain elevator for the Rough and Ready Flour Mill.  At the time, it was the only grain elevator for western Arapahoe County and Douglas County.    

In 1918, the building was purchased by the Columbine Grange of Littleton, soon to become the Columbine Mercantile Company.

The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad ran a spur line to the elevator, and in 1921, almost 64,000 bushels of wheat were shipped out of the mill.

In 1975, after a series of owners, the building became vacant.  Soon a number of restaurants began to occupy the building, with the Old Mill Brewery and Grill the current owners.   

In 1994, the Columbine Mill was officially declared a historic landmark by the City of Littleton, acquiring a grant from the State Historic Fund to renovate and restore the structure.


Coors Building | 1905

Located on 2489 West Main Street, the Coors Building is over a century old, constructed in 1905 by Adolph Coors. 

The building boasts a unique cast iron Corinthian column at its main entrance.  The structure itself was built with buff brick featuring dentil molding and a cornice cap.  Large bronze plates located on the top of the second floor feature the family name.   

The structure has been home to a myriad of businesses throughout the 20th century, including a saloon, a hardware store, a café, and offices for a local attorney, a dentist, a real estate and insurance company, and the Littleton Club.

One of the first lounges to occupy the building was The Arapahoe Bar which of course served Coors beer.

The city of Littleton designated the Coors Building a Historic Landmark in 1993, and with the help of Sue Carbaugh (who purchased the building the same year) and the Colorado State Historical Fund, the structure has been renovated to reflect its original brilliance.

Littleton Creamery | 1884

Littleton’s creamery was constructed in 1884, processing the milk of local dairy farmers before the cream and butter were shipped to Denver.

By 1888, Littleton’s creamery had processed the milk of 1,000 cows!

Architectural elements include a gabled roof and woo clapboards.  The hipped roof porch with the tapered columns was added later, as where the bay windows.   

Located at 2675 West Alamo, the building has been used as a school house, a home for the Christian Science Church, a home for the Southern Baptist Church, and an antique store.


The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot | 1875

The Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) Railroad Depot was constructed in 1875, built with rhyolite quarried from Castle Rock.  This same material was used in other famous Littleton landmarks such as Town Hall and the Richard Little Residence.   

The Denver & Rio Grande railroad was the very first rail to ever run to Littleton, and the D&RG Railroad depot is one of the last remaining 19th century stone depots in the nation.

In 1984, the entire structure was moved to Crestline Avenue and Rio Grande Street, half a mile from its original location.  Many of the original architectural features were restored, removing paint from the rhyolite walls and installing door locks which use skeleton keys.

In 1973, the D&RG Railroad Depot was declared an official Landmark by the City of Littleton.

The Duncan House | c1906

Built around 1906, the Duncan Residence was thought to have been constructed by Joseph L. Hill, who moved to Colorado in 1875—though there is some speculation if Mr. Hill was the original builder. 

The house is located at 5503 South Prince Street, sharing the same land owned by the founder of Littleton, Richard Little. 

In 1890, Frank and Louisa Duncan moved to Colorado, Louisa managing a boarding house. Sixteen years later, Frank Duncan ran his own restaurant on Littleton’s Main Street.

In circa 1906, the Duncan’s moved into the home that today carries their family name, the structure modeled after the Queen Anne style of architecture.

Some of the more notable architectural elements include a bay window with a gabled dormer located on the south side of the home, variegated decorative shingles on the front of the gabled roof, and lace-like brackets adorning the porch supports. 

The home was restored to foster its original, turn-of-the-century beauty in 1993 by owners Vicky and Peggy Munroe. The Littleton Historical Museum venerated the work as “a premier example of how an historic building should be restored.” 

The City of Littleton declared the Duncan House a historical landmark in 1995. 


First National Bank of Littleton | 1906

The First National Bank of Littleton was at one time the largest bank in Littleton.   As the first bank ever built in the city, it opened its doors in 1905 with $25,000 in capital.  A year later it moved to its current location at 2509 West Main Street.

The building features molded arcaded cornice trim and decorative finials as well as an arched window located on the east side of the structure.   

In April of 1927, three men robbed the bank in broad daylight, getting away with over $52,000 in cash and bonds. They were later apprehended and sent to prison.

The First National Bank of Littleton closed its doors forever in 1933 due largely to frozen assets from the Great Depression. Since then, the brick building has been home to a furniture store, a barber shop, a clinic, attorney’s offices, and a photography gallery.

The building was declared a historical landmark by the City of Littleton in 1997.


The First Presbyterian Church of Littleton | 1929

The First Presbyterian Church of Littleton, located on 1609 West Littleton Boulevard, was built in 1929. 

The designer of the church was none other than Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, a French architect who studied at the Beaux-Arts School in Paris and also designed Littleton’s Carnegie Library and the city’s Town Hall in 1920.

The architecture indicates both Gothic Revival and English Gothic elements including a prominent belfry with battlements, pointed arches over the windows and doors, and well-scaled ornamentation. The first stone was laid by the local Masonic chapter.

As for the church’s interior, the English Tudor Revival style sanctuary features a vaulted ceiling with dark oak beams and intricately patterned stenciled tiles. The arched windows on the front of the church are painted leaded glass, and the side windows are made of and stained leaded glass.

The addition of a four-story building to the back of the church was added in 1955 by architect Ralph Peterson.

The original congregation was formed in 1883, but church members decided to relocate from the downtown location on Main St. and Curtice St. because of the street noise. The first services were held inside the historic First Presbyterian Church of Littleton on February 23, 1930.


The Geneva Lodge | c1920

Littleton’s Geneva Lodge located at 2305 West Berry Avenue was built around 1920 by the Stuart family who raised hens on the farmland surrounding the home.

In 1927, the International Geneva Association bought the property and converted the residence into a retreat and care facility.

The Craftsman architecture style of the house includes a broad gabled roof, overhanging eaves, exposed rafter ends, and geometric glazed windows and doors.

The bay porch was added in 1941, along with an entire new wing added to the back of the structure that housed eight additional bedrooms and a semi-circular sunroom overlooking the lake.

The city of Littleton purchased the facility in 1975, but the home fell into disrepair. When Littleton began formulating plans to demolish the home in 1995, Historic Littleton, Inc. worked with the city to stabilize the structure until a use could be determined.

The house was renovated in 1997 by architect David Fisher, who uncovered and restored the original maple hardwood floors. In addition, the home’s signature curving stairwell was restored to its original red shellac finish.

Two years later in 1999, the Geneva Lodge was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as an archetype of Craftsman style architecture.


I.W. Hunt Building | 1919

Built in 1919, The I.W. Hunt building was originally used as a showroom for Ivy Hunt’s Ford dealership. The building could hold up to 75 cars and also included a parts store, a service garage, and a gas station.

The building features capped concrete brick walls and coping along the edge of the roof.  The most significant and conspicuous architectural detail is the letter H written out with enameled brick and populating the sides of the building. 

The Red Comet Fire Extinguisher Company bought the facility in 1949, and the building became home to the largest fire extinguisher manufacturer in the nation.

History is not without its irony, as a fire broke out shortly after the Red Comet Fire Extinguisher Company bought the building, causing $40,000 is damages.

The I.W. Hunt facility now houses the Little Town Complex, renovated in 1983 with the addition of the second floor.

The building is also home to the Littleton Independent, which has been reporting on the news of Littleton and the surrounding area since 1888.


J.D. Hill General Store | 1872

The building on 5738 South Rapp Street was erected in 1872, making it one of the oldest structures in the city. It first served as Littleton’s original post office and general store.

The building features wood clapboards, a gabled roof, and three corbelled brick chimneys evenly spaced out along the roof.  In 1965, the Littleton Historical Society helped rehabilitate the building, adding shutters, the porch, and the shed roof. 

J.D. Hill worked at the Rough and Ready Flour Mill before opening his store, becoming the postmaster in 1880.  He also partnered with the historic First National Bank for a time.

The building was also used as Littleton’s Town Hall before the construction of the familiar and historic Town Hall building on Main Street.


Leach House | 1889

Located on 2596 W. Alamo Avenue, the historic H.S. Leach House was constructed in 1889.

The home’s most striking attribute is its Victorian Queen Ann style, featuring an arched window and a gable decorated with shingles that give it the appearance of fish scales.

The cottage was constructed without any hallways, maximizing the efficiency of its central heating which originates from a boiler in the basement. 

The home was built by Hiram Leach, a local stockbroker and miller who worked at the Rough and Ready Flour Mill. Mr. Leach was an active member of the Littleton community, working as a committee member which founded Littleton’s first volunteer fire company. He was also a member of the Weston Masonic Lodge and a Littleton trustee in 1890.

The Leach home hosted the first Littleton’s Women Club meeting in 1897. Hiram and his wife, Sarah Leach, lived in the house for 15 years before selling the home in 1903.

The structure became a local historic landmark in 2000.


Richard Little House | 1884

Richard Little, the founder of Littleton, built this beautiful home in 1884 utilizing pink rhyolite quarried from Castle Rock. The home was designed by Denver architect Robert S. Roeschlaub. 

The same rock was used to construct Littleton’s famous Town Hall, the Sanford House, and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot.  The house was built utilizing an English/Norman Cottage architectural style.

The house was later inhabited by Littleton City Attorney William Caley. After Caley’s death in 1918, the house became derelict, and Littleton denizens thought the house to be haunted.

Little’s home was renovated in 1937 when Harleigh Holmes, inventor of the front-wheel axle system, purchased the property. Holmes failed to find any ghosts during the renovation process.

The Masonic Lodge | 1921

The Masons first came to Littleton in 1872, organized as Weston Lodge Number 22 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

The lodge was named after Allyn Weston, an attorney who moved to Colorado in 1860 and became Grand Master of Masons in Colorado two years later.

When membership exceeded over 100 members in 1913, Masons organized the construction of the Masonic Lodge currently located on 5378 South Rapp Street.

On March 24, 1921, ground was broken for the new Masonic headquarters, the building designed by Harry G. Thomas of Englewood, Colorado.

The cornerstone was laid on April 23, 1921 by the Grand Lodge of Colorado. Various items were placed inside the cornerstone including a list of Masonic members a copy of the Littleton Independent.

The first Masonic meeting in the new building took place on August 20, 1921, and the Temple was officially dedicated on November 19 the same year.


The Sanford House

This historic landmark, located at 2505 W. Alamo, was constructed using the signature Castle Rock rhyolite, featured in such famous Littleton landmarks as Town Hall, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Depot, and the Richard Little Home.

Sources are conflicting regarding the origin of the Sanford home.  Silas Madge claimed to have built the structure, selling it to the Sanford family. However, Albert and Olive Sanford claimed that they built the home.

The building features a gabled roof and windows with rounded arches.  One can even identify tooling marks along the windowsills of the home.   

While Sanford lived in Littleton, he was actively involved in preserving Littleton’s history, serving as the curator of the State Historical Society in the 1890s.

After the building was sold in the 1920s, the Sanford home was utilized by a number of local businesses and at one time served as the Continental Trailways Station.

Town Hall | 1920

This historic and signature Littleton landmark sits in the heart of downtown Littleton at 2450 West Main Street.  Renowned architect, Jules Jacques Benois Benedict, designed the building, highlighting the structure with both Renaissance and Gothic architectural elements. 

Benedict, who studied at the Beaux-Arts School of Architecture in Paris, also designed Littleton’s Carnegie Public Library in 1916, establishing his reputation as an accomplished architect.

Constructed in 1920, the structure was designed for a town with only a population of 1,600. Yet the building served its purpose as Littleton’s Town Hall for 57 years until 1977.

The second story boasts molded terra cotta featuring eagles and the Colorado state flower, the Columbine (among other designs). Benedict obtained the materials locally from the Denver Terra Cotta Company.   The two exterior cast iron lamps where built by Benedict for the building.

The structure was soon renovated into a theater, becoming the Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center—truly the epicenter of the city’s culture and heritage. 

In 1972, Town Hall was officially declared a historic landmark by the City of Littleton.   In 1980, Town Hall was included on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Gail Keeley - President
Liz Eaton - Vice President
Barbara Eaton - Membership
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Karen Arras
Rebecca Kast
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Jean Selders
Darlee Whiting
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Jim Taylor
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Richard Cronenberger


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