Baker Neighborhood History
Referred to in the early 1800’s as South Side or South Broadway, the land where the Baker neighborhood is located today was originally a 160-acre tract homesteaded by William and Elizabeth Byers. Elizabeth’s brother, Edward Sumner, and mountaineer James Beckwourth joined them for the trip to Denver. Armed with a printing press, John Dailey came along with the Byers, and shortly after arriving in Denver published the first issue of the Rocky Mountain News in 1859. If you have ever wondered how Broadway was created, we have Thomas Skerritt to thank! Following the 1864 flood of Cherry Creek, he dragged a log behind his wagon to create a “broad way” into Denver!
Baker’s first subdivisions were platted in 1872 but most development occurred following the annexation of South Side to Denver in 1883. Broadway’s cable cars as well as the Circle Railroad system drew citizens to South Side.
Two of Denver’s mayors were residents of South Side: Marion D. Van Horn (1893-95) and Thomas S. McMurray (1895-7). Prominent women from the area include Sadie Likens (the first Police Matron of Denver), Alice Polk Hill (Colorado’s first Poet Laureate) and Mary Coyle Chase (writer of the Pulitzer-winning play Harvey).
Much of Baker’s development was related to commercial and industrial growth. Denver’s professional baseball team played at a ballpark at 6th Avenue and Broadway from 1893-1922. What is now Denver Health Medical Center is located at the County Hospital site established in 1873 at West 6th Avenue and Bannock. Gradually, Broadway transitioned from residential to the commercial use we see today.
Besides housing the largest number of middle-class Queen Anne homes in Denver, Baker boasts the Mayan Theatre, one of the most unique buildings in the city. Built in 1930 by architect Montana Fallis, the Mayan was constructed over the fire damaged Queen Theater. With a Pre-Columbian theme, the theatre is one of a kind. Fortunately, it was saved from demolition in 1984 and fully restored by 1987. Today it is a recognized Denver Landmark and regularly shows independently produced films.
Baker was designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and became a historic district in Denver in 2000. Baker continues to draw residents who love the charm of its history and the conveniences of its urban location.