The Local Arrangements Committee has organized 14 tours highlighting the historical resources of Denver. Participants will have a unique opportunity to take these tours with their fellow historians. Tickets for a tour of Denver religious sites organized by the American Society of Church History will also be sold through AHA registration.

Preregistration for tours is highly recommended. Tour tickets are nonrefundable and cannot be exchanged. Tour participants must be registered for the AHA meeting. Log in to the registration resource center or call 508-743-0510 to add tickets to an existing registration.

Tour groups will meet in Room 103 at the Colorado Convention Center.

Tours may travel by bus, light rail, or on foot. Fares and admission fees are included in the price of the tour. See the tour descriptions of details about the accessibility of each tour site. Accessible buses or alternate transportation for people with disabilities will be available on request. Contact for additional information.


Tour 1: Exploring Early Jewish Denver History

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 9:30 AM-11:30 AM
Tour leader: Jeanne Abrams, Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, Center for Judaic Studies and University Libraries, University of Denver

Limit 25 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Denver’s Jewish community dates back to 1859—the first year of the city’s permanent settlement—and the first Jewish synagogue was founded in 1874. Much like members of the general population, Jews migrated to Denver, first in search of wealth and new opportunities, and then later in search of health, as by the 1880s Colorado had earned a reputation as “The World’s Sanatorium.” This tour will highlight the area’s early Jewish history, with particular emphases on the settlement of first German Jews and then Eastern European Jews, and on the major impact tuberculosis had on the growth of Denver’s Jewish and larger communities. Tour stops will include the Pearl Street Temple Emanuel building (1899), and the Auraria campus, which includes the Shearith Israel Synagogue (1903), the old Groussman’s Grocery (1906), and the Golda Meir House (1913). We will conclude with an extensive tour of the beautiful former campus of the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society (now the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design), one of the best-known early tuberculosis sanatoria in the US.

Please note: The bus tour includes some walking, totaling about three city blocks. One stop includes a short staircase.

Tour 2: Highlights of the American Museum of Western Art

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 9:30 AM-12:30 PM
Tour leader: Darlene Dueck, curator, American Museum of Western Art

Limit 25 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

The artwork on view at the American Museum of Western Art represents a cross-section of paintings that survey the art of the American West from the early 19th century through the age of industrialization. During the relatively short period illustrated by this collection, the West was transformed from Indian territory unknown to most inhabitants of the eastern United States into a settled region. The Anschutz Collection surveys the development of American art as it pertains to the West and provides examples from all of the schools that contributed to that development. The museum occupies the historic Navarre Building, which was designed and built in 1880. Prior to its current use, it served as a school, a red-light hotel, a dining club/restaurant, and a jazz club. The American Museum of Western Art is only open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays, so attendees will have no other opportunity to visit during the meeting.

Please note: The museum is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately 15 minutes to and from the museum. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 3: Highlights of the Denver Art Museum

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 12:30 PM-2:30 PM
Tour leader: Staff of the Denver Art Museum

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

The tour will cover highlights from the collection of the Denver Art Museum, the leading venue of its kind in the Rocky Mountain region. A wide range of galleries present paintings, sculptures, textiles, graphics, and crafts from premodern, modern, and contemporary Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. The museum boasts particular strength in the areas of Native American, Pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and Western art. Current special exhibitions cover topics including Japanese fashion design in the 1980s and 1990s, contemporary Japanese ceramics, and masterworks of the Venetian Renaissance. Participants will tour the museum with a docent, with the option to continue to explore the exhibits on their own after the tour.

Please note: The museum is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately 15 minutes to and from the museum. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 4: Underground Roundtable on Colorado Mining History SOLD OUT!

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 12:30 PM-7:30 PM
Tour leader: Kenneth Osgood, Colorado School of Mines

Limit 20 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Join us for a tour of Edgar Experimental Mine, a teaching mine operated by the Colorado School of Mines in Idaho Springs, located in a canyon at 7,500 feet carved out by Clear Creek, which supplies the water to the Coors brewery in Golden. Prospectors founded the town in 1859 during the early days of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. The historic Edgar Mine—originally constructed in the 1870s—includes its original main tunnel connected to branches of tunnels dug by students over the previous half-century. The tour will take visitors through more than one-half mile of underground workings representing over 100 years of mine development. In addition, the tour will include a roundtable panel on Colorado mining history in a classroom inside the mine itself, followed by happy hour and early dinner (or appetizers) at Tommyknocker brewery in downtown Idaho Springs, which will include a discussion about saloon culture and the Western gold rush. Participants will pay for their own food and drink. On the wy to and from the site, visitors will enjoy spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains.

Thomas Andrews (University of Colorado at Boulder) will moderate the discussion with George Vrtis (Carleton College), Elizabeth Jameson (University of Calgary), and Elliott West (University of Arkansas). Issues to be discussed include mining and the environment, gendered dimensions of mining history, mining history in global context, beer on the mining frontier, working-class women in the West’s saloons, and more.

Participants should wear closed-toed shoes with a good tread, warm clothes, and casual (mud and dirt friendly) attire; attendees will be provided hardhats at the mine site.

Please Note: This bus tour requires participants to walk up a dirt road with a steep grade for a quarter mile; the tour and roundtable will take place in a confined underground space. Unfortunately, the mine is not wheelchair accessible.

If there is more than six inches of recent snowfall in Idaho Springs, participants will not be able to tour the mine but will meet in an alternate location. In the event of inclement weather, AHA staff will e-mail participants with further instructions. Return time of 7:30 p.m. is approximate.

Tour 5: Pleasing Multiple Publics: The History Colorado Center and the Challenges Facing History Museums

Friday, January 6, 2017: 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Tour leaders: Patty Limerick, Center of the American West, University of Colorado, and Colorado State Historian; Steve Turner, executive director, History Colorado; History Colorado board member(s); and Sam Smith, University of Colorado at Boulder

Spearheading a new generation of state history museums, the History Colorado Center in downtown Denver opened in 2012 to much excitement. But like history museums everywhere, it has seen heated debate over how it should best serve the interests of its multiple publics. This tour invites historians to explore and discuss the building, exhibits, and institutional transitions of the History Colorado Center with a team of experts: Dr. Patty Limerick, state historian of Colorado, director of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, member of the National Council of the Humanities, and former vice president of the AHA Teaching Division; Steve Turner, executive director of History Colorado and state historic preservation officer; Sam Smith, a geography graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder who has written a thought-provoking and soon-to-be-published commentary on History Colorado; and one or more members of the History Colorado board. The team will guide participants through the exhibits, with particular attention to Colorado Stories and The Living West (the focus of Smith’s research). At the conclusion of the tour, AHA members will sit down with the History Colorado team and the state historian to discuss a range of impressions and convictions on the roles that this and other museums around the country could play as they seek to fulfill multiple roles for the community. Participant impressions, reactions, and recommendations are not only welcome but are the point of the tour. The event thus offers AHA members a unique opportunity to experience a state history museum behind the scenes and contribute to its future through conversation with its receptive and appreciative leadership. The tour will also include snacks and beverages with a local flavor.

Please note: The museum is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately 20 minutes to and from the museum. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 6: The “Harlem of the West”: Five Points and the African American History of Denver and the West SOLD OUT!

Friday, January 6, 2017: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Tour leaders: Terry Nelson, Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library and Terri Gentry, Black American West Museum and Heritage Center

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Five Points, dubbed “the Harlem of the West,” emerged as Denver’s first African American neighborhood around the turn of the 20th century. It remains the heart of the city’s African American cultural and historical identity to this day. Using library and museum visits and a walk along Five Points’ historic Welton Street, this tour will explore the history of African Americans in Denver and place that history in the wider context of the black American West. The tour will begin at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, which houses collections and exhibits on black migration to the West and the cultural, social, political, and business history of Five Points, along with a rotating art gallery. We will then walk through the heart of Five Points, past landmarks like the Rossonian Hotel, once a major stop on the nation’s jazz circuit, to the Black American West Museum and Heritage Center, whose exhibits highlight the lives and experiences of African American ranchers, farmers, cowboys, and Buffalo Soldiers, among others. At the end of the tour, participants may choose to have lunch at the Welton Street Café, a longtime family establishment serving soul food and Caribbean jerk (lunch is not included in the price of the tour).

Please note: Transportation between the Convention Center and Five Points will be by light rail. The tour will involve an approximately eight-block walk between the library and the museum. The library and first floor of the museum are ADA-accessible, but the other floors of the museum are accessible only by stairs.

Tour 7: Tour of Religious Sites of Denver

American Society of Church History
Friday, January 6, 2017: 12:00 PM-4:00 PM
Tour leaders: Daniel Sack, Princeton Univ.; David Bains, Samford Univ.

Tour 8: Highlights of the Clyfford Still Museum

Friday, January 6, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
Tour leader: Staff of the Clyfford Still Museum

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Described by many as the most anti-traditional of the abstract expressionists, Clyfford Still is credited with laying the groundwork for the movement. The Clyfford Still Museum now houses 95 percent of the artist’s total output, making its collection the most intact body of work of any major artist. It contains approximately 825 paintings and over 2,300 works on paper.

In addition to the artworks, the museum is also home to the artist’s archives of letters, sketchbooks, manuscripts, photo albums, and personal effects. The museum’s rotating exhibitions, drawn almost exclusively from its extensive collections, illuminate both Still and the important period of American art history surrounding his lifetime. The exhibition during the AHA meeting is the largest mounted by the museum to date, and will highlight 260 paper works. Participants will tour the museum with a docent, with the option to enjoy the museum on their own after the tour.

Please note: The museum is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately 15 minutes to and from the museum. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 9: The Colorado State Capitol: Historic Interpretation and Preservation

Friday, January 6, 2017: 2:00 PM-4:30 PM
Tour leader: Derek R. Everett, Metropolitan State University

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

As the home of state government, the Colorado State Capitol serves and represents the more than 5 million people who call the Centennial State home. Join Capitol historian and Metropolitan State University history professor Derek R. Everett on a tour of the building and grounds and explore how the statehouse’s architecture and decoration reflect both Colorado’s uniqueness and its ties to the rest of the Union. The tour will emphasize the state’s efforts to provide a more inclusive recognition of gender and ethnicity through artwork and memorials, the challenges of interpreting often controversial stories in such a public setting, and historic preservation and restoration projects to return the Capitol to its turn-of-the-20th-century grandeur. See for yourself why the statehouse architect, writing in 1886, called his design “the admiration of future ages,” and why a 1950 reporter remarked: “It is the heart of Colorado.”

Please note: The Capitol is accessible; participants will pass through security screening as they enter. Participants will walk approximately 15 minutes to and from the Capitol. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 10: The Keyes to Understanding Race and Education in Denver

Friday, January 6, 2017: 4:00 PM-6:00 PM
Tour leaders: Tom I. Romero II, University of Denver, and members of the 10th Circuit Historical Society

Limit 60 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

This tour and discussion panel will allow conference attendees to consider the history and legacy of—and talk with actual participants in—a landmark legal case, Keyes v. School Board No. 1. In 1973, as the first non-Southern school desegregation case to reach the United States Supreme Court, Keyes raised novel questions about the scope, form, and remedy for discrimination in a city divided along black, Latino, and white color lines. Our tour will take place at one of the sites of the case, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (housed in a building that at one time served as the post office for 19th-century Denver). At the courthouse, the 10th Circuit Historical Society will host a special panel discussion on Keyes, which will include not just historians but some of the important figures who were personally involved in the struggle for educational equity in the Denver Public Schools.

Please note: The courthouse is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately four blocks to and from the museum. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 11: Niinenii-niicie: Exploring the Ongoing Indian History of Denver

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 9:00 AM-12:00 PM
Tour leaders: David Halaas, author and consultant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe; Tink Tinker, Iliff School of Theology; and William Philpott, University of Denver

Limit 25 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Though it can be easy to overlook amidst the skyscrapers and suburban subdivisions, the entire Denver metro area sits on land that was expropriated from Arapahos and Cheyennes in the 1850s and 1860s. Through repeated treaty violations and bloody aggressions, most notoriously the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, these tribes were systematically removed not just from the Denver area but entirely from Colorado Territory. Ever since, there has been a tendency in Denver to relegate Natives to a sort of ghosthood: people only of the past. But Native Americans never fully vanished as 19th-century thinking assumed they would—nor did the living legacies of the 1860s violence against them. On this tour, we will explore the persistent history of Indian people in the metro area—both their continued presence in the city, and the continuing relevance of their past. Our exploration will take us to a number of sites. At the State Capitol and its surrounding monuments, we will discuss the ways Sand Creek and Colorado’s Indian history more broadly have been alternatively erased, mythicized, and memorialized. At the Four Winds American Indian Center, a community center near downtown, we will discuss the experiences of Native Americans in Denver since World War II, including struggles for civil rights, housing, education, health, religious expression, and cultural preservation. Leading our tour will be David Halaas, retired former Colorado state historian and current consultant to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe; Tink Tinker (wazhazhe/Osage Nation), professor of Indian cultures and religions at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology and long-time local spiritual and community leader; and Bill Philpott, history professor at the University of Denver.

This bus tour will involve a small amount of walking. The downstairs meeting room at the Four Winds American Indian Center is ADA accessible, but the main hall of the center is accessible only by stairs.

Tour 12: Historic Downtown Denver Walking Tour SOLD OUT!

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM
Tour Leader: William J. Convery, University of Colorado Denver

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Founded as a mining supply camp in 1858, Denver matured into Colorado’s leading metropolis, celebrated by 19th-century boosters as the “Queen City of the Mountains and Plains.” Join former Colorado State Historian and University of Colorado Denver history professor Bill Convery on a walking tour of Denver’s central business district and Civic Center Complex. With visits to Union Station, the 16th Street Mall, and Civic Center Park, our tour will explore some of the city’s architectural and built-landscape gems, offering insights into Denver’s role as a regional commercial, transportation, and political hub; its enthusiastic embrace of the city beautiful movement; and the long-standing tensions between urban renewal and historic preservation. The tour will conclude with an architectural and archival treat: a visit to the Western History Research Collection at the Denver Public Library.

Please note: The tour entails approximately 1.5 miles of walking and 1 mile on accessible buses.

Tour 13: West Colfax Avenue: From Agriculture to the Automobile Age along “Colorado’s Main Street”

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 1:00 PM-3:30 PM
Tour leaders: Robert Autobee, senior historian, Autobee & Autobee Cultural Resources and Kristen Autobee, historian, Morgan, Angel & Associates

Limit 25. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Described as “Colorado’s Main Street” and the “Most Wickedest Street in America,” 26-mile Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous commercial thoroughfare in the United States. Over the last 150 years, it has seen agriculture, the rise of automobility, tourism, neon advertising, and urban blight—and has become home both to myths and fantasies and to gritty cultural, economic, and social realities. On this tour, historians Kristen and Robert Autobee, who spent the past two years researching and surveying a five-mile stretch of West Colfax for Colorado’s State Historic Fund, will describe how farmers, tubercular patients, innkeepers, and used-car salesmen built this Road to Rockies—and how preservationists are now trying to save this unusual slice of Colorado and American history.

Please note: The bus tour includes some walking. Participants will also take a short ride on the accessible light rail system.

Tour 14: Colorado LGBT History Archives Tour and Presentation, Denver Public Library

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM
Tour leader: James Kroll, Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

Limit 15 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Find out more about Colorado’s LGBT past with a presentation at the Colorado LGBT History Collection at the Denver Public Library. Jim Kroll, the collection’s archivist, will lead the presentation, which will include an introduction to the papers of Equality Colorado and Denver’s LGBT Community Center. This tour is co-sponsored by the Committee on LGBT History.

The library is ADA compliant; participants will walk approximately 15 minutes to and from the library. Alternate transportation for people with disabilities is available on request.

Tour 15: A Confluence of Cultures: A Walking Tour of the Historic Auraria Neighborhood

Sunday, January 8, 2017: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Tour leader: Rebecca Hunt, University of Colorado Denver

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

For millennia, people have lived, worked, and learned at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Paleoindians and, later, Cheyennes and Arapahos called this area home. In 1858, amidst the Pikes Peak gold rush, a new wave of people occupied this ground, dispossessing the natives, initiating the era of Euro-American settlement, and giving rise to the new city of Denver. As the city grew, Auraria became an industrial, working-class, and multi-ethnic neighborhood. The 1960s brought another wave of displacement as urban renewal claimed the neighborhood, transforming it into the urban campus now shared by the University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University, and the Community College of Denver. Fortunately, many historic buildings remain as traces of the pre-1960s heritage, including churches and an entire block of 19th-century houses and commercial structures.

Please note: This tour involves walking a total of 1.5 miles over moderate terrain.