Cheesman Park

   

Cheeseman Park is bordered by Colfax Avenue to the North, 6th  Avenue to the South, York Street to the East, and Downing Street to the  West.

Congress, which had originally designated the acreage for burials,  switched it to park land at the request of Denver officials. By 1894,  graves had been relocated, burials suspended, and the area fenced, but  the incipient Cheesman Park remained barren and deserted until landscape  architect, Reinhard Schuetze, drew up formal plans in 1898 that  included a lily pond, Pavilion, and rows of Linden trees. Adjacent  cemetery tracts became Morgan’s Historic District, Congress Park, Denver  Botanic Gardens, and soccer fields – planted above the city reservoirs,  the soccer fields are located directly north of Congress Park.

As conceived of by Schuetze, Cheesman is a serene expanse in the  midst of the bustling city, a peaceful enclave for quiet contemplation,  picnicking, reading, and viewing the mountains. Its seclusion is  sufficient to lure the occasional bagpiper out to practice amidst the  rolling fields at the park’s center.

In 1907 funds for a pavilion were donated by the widow of Walter  Cheesman in exchange for naming the park in his honor. Inspired by the  Acropolis in Athens and hailed as Denver’s “temple in the sun,” the  Pavilion was constructed of white Colorado marble and decorated on the  west by reflecting pools and fountains.

The Colorado Mountain Club contributed a guide to the Front Range  peaks cast in bronze and mounted along the Pavilion’s west promenade to  enrich the viewing experience. Cheesman Park Esplanade, created in 1912,  linked Cheesman to Seventh Avenue Parkway and the Williams Street  Parkway leading to the Country Club neighborhood.

Intended as a Japanese tea house, the wooden edifice at the park’s  north end is currently undergoing renovation after years of neglect.  During the ’30s and ’40s, supported by Helen Bonfils, owner of the  Denver Post, Cheesman Park hosted seminars and theatrical productions  that drew enthusiasts by the thousands each summer.

Cheesman Park remains a significant neighborhood gathering spot,  attracting legions of joggers, walkers, picnickers, and sunbathers, much  as Schuetze may have originally envisioned. He might also be gratified  at the sight of parents and their children flocking to the west-side  playground. On breezy days, the sky above Cheesman springs to life with  brightly colored kites, and following winter storms, ski tracks soon  crisscross the freshly fallen snow.

Hang around long enough and you’re sure to spot some of the diverse  wildlife that periodically wander into the park from Cherry Creek or the  Botanic Gardens, among them, foxes, rabbits, crows, pigeons,  woodpeckers, squirrels, and, on occasion, herons, hawks, Canadian geese,  and ducks.

Cheesman Park and environs offers an unparalleled opportunity to  fully engage with Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle in an urban setting.  “Central Park” in Denver is a compelling reminder to us all why “’tis a  privilege to live in Colorado.”