#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.
Although Spencer Penrose made his original fortune mining copper, he is often better known for founding and operating the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Penrose combined his passions for travel and business by constructing the hotel, and it opened in May 1918. The Broadmoor is now celebrating its 100th year, and its success and legacy as a premier American resort are due to the hard work of executives and employees alike. While Penrose’s involvement with the hospitality industry and charitable giving are two separate sides of his Penrose legacy, these passions were brought together in the Foundation’s grants to the Geneva National Home in Littleton, which served as a center for recuperation and retirement for hotel employees from around the country.
Grantee Spotlight: Geneva National Home (Lodge)
Now a registered historic landmark, the Geneva National Home in Littleton was once a retreat and care facility for former hotel and restaurant employees. After the site was selected by Frank Haberl, assistant manager of Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel, in 1927, the Lodge was constructed as the International Geneva Association’s only home in the United States. Originally founded in 1877, the Association was comprised of hotel workers and boasted 22,000 members worldwide and 3,000 in the United States.
An average of fifteen men lived in the home, many of whom were European immigrants who had worked in major hotels throughout the country. Due to the long hours and strenuous work in smoky rooms, many of the men suffered from tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. Colorado’s dry air was said to be good for the lungs, and the Geneva Lodge included a large bay screened porch to aid recovery. Guests were also able to tend vegetable gardens and raise sheep, chicken, and ducks on the property, as well as row and fish on Geneva Lake.
The Denver branch of the Geneva Association supervised the Home’s operation and every Christmas, Association chapters around the country took up collections for its maintenance, with members contributing one to twenty dollars each.
In the 1950s, the Lodge shifted its focus toward serving as a retirement home for Association members, as effective drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis had lessened the need for a recuperative facility. In 1964 the Geneva Village complex of twenty-eight apartment units was built on the grounds west of the original home.
The last three residents of the Lodge were transferred to a nursing home in 1973, and two years later the City of Littleton bought the property. The Lodge was used as the headquarters for the city's Youth Employment Service and the Arapahoe County League of Women Voters for a number of years before it was eventually abandoned as storage and fell into disrepair.
The City made plans to demolish the Lodge, but members of the Second Century Fund (now Historic Littleton, Inc.) persuaded the city against it and in 1997 Littleton architect David Fisher arranged with the City Council to renovate the building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and still stands at 2305 West Berry Avenue today.
El Pomar granted to the Geneva National Home every year from 1952-1968. For the most part, the grants were made as $250 annual contributions to the Home’s Christmas fundraiser, with one larger $5,000 capital grant provided in 1963.
El Pomar in 1953:
The Foundation provided $724,600 in 49 grants. The largest recipients were consistent from other years in the Foundation’s early history and included: Fountain Valley School, Glockner Hospital, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and the Fine Arts Center. One unique grant was also $2,500 to the City of Colorado Springs for a youth campsite in Palmer Park.
Images from the collection of the Littleton Museum. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the Littleton Museum.
Spotlight by Corey Baron