Smith’s Chapel could become a Denver Landmark

Published on December 18, 2020

910 Galapago Street

*12/22/2020 Update: This passed and Smith's Chapel has been designated as a local landmark.

DENVER – Monday night, Community Planning and Development will ask Denver City Council to vote in support of a new landmark in Denver: Smith’s Chapel at 910 Galapago St. If designated by City Council, Smith’s Chapel would become Denver’s 350th landmark, and the very first property designated under the city’s new cultural criteria. 

Public Hearing at City Council
Monday, December 21 at 5:30 p.m.
Watch at denver8.tv

Built of Castle Rock-quarried rhyolite stone and completed in 1882 in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, Smith’s Chapel is tied to the growth of Denver’s West side and La Alma-Lincoln Park neighborhood. Smith’s Chapel is the oldest church still standing in La Alma-Lincoln Park and is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.

La Alma-Lincoln Park is one of Denver’s oldest residential neighborhoods and was home to many important moments of the Chicano Movement. Through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Smith’s Chapel provided a place for the Chicano community to meet, support each other, and advocate for equal treatment.

“When the city revised our landmark preservation ordinance last year, being able to preserve places like Smith’s Chapel that are rich in history and meaning was exactly what we hoped for,” said Laura E. Aldrete, Community Planning and Development executive director. “The inclusion of cultural criteria in the designation process allows us to go deeper than what the history books reflect, to honor and retain those places that are part of the fabric and evolution of a community.”

The city’s Landmark Preservation Ordinance, which governs how new local landmarks are selected and approved, was updated in November 2019. Previously, potential new landmarks were assessed based on history, architecture and geography, and had to show significance in at least two of these categories. Today’s criteria now also include cultural significance, which allows potential new landmarks to be considered based on the following:

  • Representing an era of culture or heritage that allows an understanding of how the site was used by past generations;
  • Being a physical attribute of a neighborhood, community, or the city that is a source of pride or cultural understanding; and/or
  • Being associated with social movements, institutions, or patterns of growth or change that contributed significantly to the culture of the neighborhood, community, city, state, or nation.

Download the staff report for more detail on Smith’s Chapel.

Lean more about the landmark designation process at www.denvergov.org/landmark.

En español