Western History & Genealogy Blog

Manuscript Monday: Denver's first house?

Manuscript Monday: Denver's first house?
Manuscript Monday: Denver's first house?
Manuscript Monday: Denver's first house?

There are conflicting accounts of who built the first “house” in Denver.  This week’s collection highlights Anselm Holcomb Barker, thought to have built the first permanent house in the city.  What do you think?


Anselm Holcomb Barker, born 1822, was an Ohio native.  Early in his life he was a blacksmith, and later became a businessman.  For more information, check out this archives finding aid.

One of the many folks interested in the gold rumored to have been found in Cherry Creek, Barker traveled from Nebraska to Colorado via the Platte River in October, 1858.  Just a few days after their arrival, Barker and the rest in the party founded the Auraria Town Company.  They had heard about a settlement already founded in the area, but found no trace of a foundation or fixed lodging.  Barker started construction on his house, thought to be the first permanent dwelling in the area, on 1 November 1858 on the Auraria settlement, and moved in on the 4th of November.  Here is a drawing of his place.

The Anselm Holcomb Barker Papers include Barker’s journals from 1858-1894, and correspondence to and from his granddaughter, Lucille L. Gewinner.  This collection is available in Western History & Genealogy at the Central Denver Public Library.

For more information on Anselm Holcomb Barker, as well as the history of Denver and Auraria, stop by the WHG department, and visit our website.  You might also be interested in these titles:

Where the Rivers Meet: The Story of Auraria, Colorado Through Our Eyes

Auraria Remembered

Anselm Holcomb Barker, 1822-1895: Pioneer Builder and Early Settler of Auraria

First House in Denver

I find this history fascinating. A few years ago I did a study a home at 727 Washington Street built by Edwin Kassler. Kassler was the first head of Denver's water and electric companies. His home was built in 1910, an era when many mansions were being built in Denver. In many ways it does not seem that long ago.

While I was in Denver a few

While I was in Denver a few weeks ago looking at homes for rent, I was taken aback by some of the older architecture I saw. The drawing of the homestead certainly depicts a beautiful choice in the home's placement. I never knew that Denver's history reached back into the early-mid 19th century. I'm happily pleased to see that the Barker home has information available online and at the library. Unfortunately, my search for lodging won't have the luxury of millions of acres of land to choose from! I'm just hoping to find a small piece of one acre I like!! How times change.