Walter C. Mead
I see a pattern building. My usual search starts on the Internet. Tonight, I went to my new go-to source, The History of the Denver Country Club by Charles C. Bonniwell & David Fridtjof Halaas. I found this book at the Philadelphia Print Shop West in Cherry Creek North and thought I’d take a chance on it. Let’s just say the last few posts might have been a bit shorter had I not found this book. I checked the index for Walter C. Mead, the sixth name on the list of Civic Benefactors on the Colonnade in Civic Center.
Charles C. Mead was of member of the Cherry Creek Golf Club. But, that is a minor point. Charles was born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1866. His ancestors settled in that area in 1662. Around 1884 Charles C. Mead went to New York and worked in brokerage. I suspect what he learned, in this short lived career, served him the rest of his life. The next year, 1885, he arrived in Denver and worked real estate. In 1885 Charles was working in the main office of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. In 1891, at 25 years old, he took a clerk job at the Citizens Water Company. He stayed at the water company. When Citizens Water Company was bought out, the name changed to the Denver Union Water Company. He worked his way up the corporate ladder. In 1910 he retired as Assistant General Manager. He was forty-four years old. The capitol stock of the Denver Water Company 1st dividend paid 5% in March 1905. It paid the same in 1907. Then the dividends stopped until 1910. Depending on the number of shares he had, and being in the know, I suspect retirement was an option for him.
Charles lived at 1119 Pearl in 1899, the house still stands. In 1900 the city directory lists him living at the McPhee Building, room 221. In 1908 he was living just north of the present Woman’s Press Club Building at 1325 Logan. In the 1935 directory Mead is living at 1000 East 16th. The house still stands. In the 1940 censes, under the heading “other people in the household” was listed Mildred Rommel. In 1935 Mildred was living at 2232 South Broadway with her husband, Henry. Charles was 74 at the time, a conjecture would be that Mildred was his hired help. Mead lived another 11 years, until he was 85 years old.
I could not find Mead’s middle name. It must be just the initial “C”. His mother’s middle name was Cheesman, his father’s middle name was Cornelius. I suspect the “C” honored both. Charles took his short middle name and his retirement and started to travel the world. He traveled to Japan and China. He collected Asian Art.
Walter C. Mead had life long relationships with the Denver Artist’s Club, later the Denver Art Museum and the Colorado Museum of Natural History, presently the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Mead was also associated with the Denver artist “colony” at Brinton Terrace. To explore Mead’s passions it would best to review a history of both museums and Brinton Terrace.
Edwin Carter lived in Breckenridge, Colorado. He was a collector of Colorado fauna (animals). He displayed the collection in his log cabin home. The collection consisted of 3,300 specimens, some displayed in the non-fireproof cabin. The collection was bought by a group that was interested in saving the collection. They combined this collection with a butterfly collection owned by John T. Mason and a gold specimen collection from John F. Campion. From these three collections the Denver Museum of Natural History was organized on December 6, 1900. The next step was to build a building. The Denver Museum of Natural History, now wrapped in additions, still stands in City Park, on a bluff. It opened in 1908.
The Edwin Carter Cabin in Breckenridge, it still survives.
The Denver Artist Club formed in 1893. It displayed works in the Fine Arts Building at the University of Denver, 1330 Arapahoe. Starting in 1909 and continuing until 1919 art was displayed in the Natural History Museum. The club was also able to display in the Carnegie Library in 1910. In 1917 the name changed to the Denver Art Association. But, the Artist Club did not have a permanent home.
Horace Bennett of Cripple Creek owned a mansion at 1300 Logan. It was sold to David May of the department stores. Then it was sold to Delos Allen Chappell. Chappell was the president of the Trinidad Water Company, founded the 1st National Bank of Trinidad and owned 30,000 acres of coal lands. The coal assets were the basis of the Victor Fuel Company. He sold the company in 1902 and turned is attention to utilities in California and Nevada. His children, Delos and Jean donated the house at 1300 Logan to the Denver Art Association in 1922. The next year the name changed to the Denver Art Museum and museum remained in the mansion until 1949. The Art Museum was able to move into fifth floor of the City and County Building in 1932. The Chappell house was then the “branch”. The Art Museum moved to a former automobile business building on Acoma and 14th., in 1949. Like the Natural History Museum, the City and Country needed space and took it away from the Art Museum.
The Chappell Mansion when it was the Denver Art Museum, 13th and Logan. It is now the location of the PERA building. The apartment building in background still stands. A fireproof wing was constructed around 1926 to use as a gallery. The house was razed in 1970.
Brinton Terrace was a row of connected houses across the alley from Trinity Methodist Church on 18th and Lincoln. It was built in 1882, designed by architects Ed Varian and Fredrick Sterner. The terrace consisted of six apartments of ten rooms each. The top, attic floors, were for servants. Attracting affluent tenants for its first 25 years, in the early 1900’s it became an artist colony. Known as “Denver’s Greenwich Village” or a “True Bohemian Center”. A number of accomplished artists, jewelers, musicians, actors and muralists lived in the terrace. Among them George Elbert Burr, Dudley Carpenter, Robert Garrison, Allen True and Waldo Love. George Burr lived in the terrace two years, then built his studio on Logan which is now home to the Women’s Press Club. Dudley Carpenter did murals in the Decker Library. Robert Garrison sculptured the seals in Civic Center fountain. Allen True did numerous murals around town and designed the cowboy on the Wyoming license plate. Waldo Love painted early backdrops at the Denver Museum of Natural History.
Brinton Terrace, 18th and Logan
Walter C. Mead tied together the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Denver Artist Club and Brinton Terrace. Denver’s Municipal Facts in November 1911 mentions that Water C. Mead returned from an around the world trip. The same article recounts a lecture with W.A. Marean and A.G. Wassenich on Asian porcelain. Mead started his venture into the art world. In 1913 Walter C. Mead is appointed a trustee of the Natural History Museum. In 1915 he donates his Japanese and Chinese art to what would have been the Denver Artists Club. In 1917 Water C. Mead is listed as the Vice-President of the Denver Art Association, formally the Artists Club. The American Art Annual lists Denver’s “permanent [art] collection” at the Museum at City Park, the Natural History Museum. Mead was on the board of Trustees of the Natural History Museum was on the board from 1913 until 1951.
The Federal Writers Project’s WPA Guide to Colorado traces the completion of the City and County Building to 1932. It employed 35 architects to design the building. On the 4th floor, the Denver Art Museum gains another home, but again, they are sharing the building. It has 12 galleries and an art library. The museum houses the Walter C. Mead Collection which includes Chinese and Japanese Porcelains and bronzes, Georgian furniture, paintings and prints.
Mead was involved with the two museums, first the ever moving Artist Club, which turned into the Denver Art Museum. The second, the Natural History Museum, was used to display his donated collection. Brinton Terrace was his contact with the artists. William Shaw Ward (1843-1917) lived at Brinton Terrace in 1884. He was the Director of Minerals at the Natural History Museum from 1905-1914. In 1908 he was appointed the head of the Art Department and Archaeological Department. It was already mentioned that dioramic artist, Waldo Love of the Natural History Museum lived at Brinton Terrace in 1909. In 1908, the artist George Elbert Burr lived at Brinton Terrace. In 1909 he built his house and studio at 1325 Logan, now the Woman’s Press Club. Walter C. Mead was living at 1375 Logan in 1908, just a few doors down from Burr’s new house. It is possible they knew each other or knew about each other. Although Walter C. Mead’s recorded contact with the art world didn’t start until he returned from his world travels in 1911, he made up for lost time.
Walter C. Mead is pictured here top row, in dark shirt.
Walter C. Mead was honored with the first hall at the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Walter C. Mead Ecological Hall. The Walter C. Mead Collection at the Denver Art Museum honors him. The Colonnade of Civic Benefactors honors him in Civic Center. He was on the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Museum of Natural History. He was Chairman of the Art Committee of the Natural History Museum. In 1918 he helped with Denver War Stamps along with others like John Evans. Walter C. Mead deserved to be on the list of civic benefactors.
History of the Denver Country Club (1887-2006), Charles C. Bonniwell and David Fridtjof Halaas
Find a Grave website
History & Genealogy of Mead Family of Fairfield County, Connecticut, by Spencer P. Mead, LL.B 1901
1940 U. S. Census
The American Federation of Arts, 1924 Bromhead, Curtis & Co. Burlington Gardens, London, W.I. pg 18
American Art Annual Vol 14, Florence N. Levy Editor 1917
The WPA Guide to Colorado: The Highest State, by Federal Writers Project
Colorado Magazine Vol XXIV No. 3 May 1947 pg 99, author Edgar C. McMechen
Denver City Directories, (DPL), 1899, 1900, 1908, 1935, 1937
Municipal Facts, Dec 1918, Vol 1, No. 10
Poors’ Manual of Railroad, Vol 40, by Henry Varnum Poor, Pg 1436, 1907
Moody’s Manual of Railroad and Corporation Securities, 1910, 11th Annual No. , George Hosking—Editor, pg 1618-1619
Crossroads of Culture: Anthropology Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2010, by Chip Colwell, Stephen E. Nash, Stephen R. Holen pg 23
Being the Portraits & Biographies of the Progressive Men of the West who have helped in the Development and History making of the wonderful Country, by Press Reference Library, 1915
Sketches of Colorado: being an Analytical Summary and Biographical, Vol 1, by William Columbus Ferril, Western Press Bureau
Denver Municipal Facts, Vol III, No. 46 Sat 11-11-1911 pg 13
DPL photo Rh-212
15 Colorado Artists: [exhibition] December 3, 1948 to January 1, 1949: Denver Art Museum, Chappell House Branch, 1300 Logan (worldcat.org)
Annual Exhibition Denver Artists Guild [Chappell House, Dec. 1941](worldcat.org)
Mansions of Denver: The Vintage Years, 1870-1938
The Things That Last When the Gold is Gone, Barbara Edwards Sternberg with Jennifer Boone and Evelyn Waldron, 2011