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This month marks 52 years since the citizens of Golden voted to save the Astor House. 654 Golden citizens voted to save it and 301 voted to demolish it.

Downtown buildings destroyed after World War II: The South School, the Courthouse, the North School, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, and the Catholic Church

In the decades after World War II, Golden was on a “modernization” binge. By 1972, we had lost many of our Victorian-era buildings. Historic architecture wasn’t widely valued in that era, but modern conveniences were. The need for parking lots drove many of the demolitions. The town was spreading and residents were no longer walking distance to downtown, so they needed somewhere to park.

The downtown merchants were desperate to find space for parking lots, and the old boarding house seemed like a logical candidate for demolition. The space it occupied would have provided 8 new parking spaces.

Having lost so many buildings already, the prospect of losing one of the oldest buildings in town was the last straw for many citizens. They formed a new group called the Golden Landmarks Association (GLA). They persuaded City Council to give them some time to prove the value of the building. Volunteers peeled wallpaper, painted, made repairs, and shored up the foundation. They organized community events in the building and persuaded Golden’s voters of the value of preserving one of our oldest buildings.

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Golden Daily Transcript – June 14, 1972

In the end, Council agreed to bring it to a vote, and Golden’s citizens voted to purchase and preserve the building.

Golden Landmarks Association volunteers, working on the Astor House 54 years ago

The Golden Landmarks Association ran the Astor House as a museum for about 40 years. To learn more about this monumental grassroots effort, read Arlone Child’s book, Golden Landmarks Association, Inc. the First Twenty Years, 1972-1992.

Astor House Back Yard – enlarge

Now, Foothills Art Center has brought about the latest incarnation of the venerable building. In addition to the original stone structure, they have added a two story addition on the north side and created lovely gallery space.

In the process, we lost the brick wash house and the beautiful tree that was dedicated to the memory of Arlone Child (who wrote the book mentioned above), but Foothills intends to plant a new tree of the same species and dedicate it to both Arlone Child and her husband Gene.

The boulder and plaque placed in the backyard of the Astor House in 1976 will remain – enlarge

The back yard of the Astor House was dedicated as "Colorado Territorial Park" on June 9, 1984, during Golden's 125th anniversary celebration. Much of the yard has been consumed by the new addition, but the remaining area will be replanted and will resume its role as a lovely public park.

The Golden Transcript (originally called the Colorado Transcript) has been publishing since 1866. The Golden History Museum has been working on digitizing the historic issues. You’ll find old Transcripts online at