Denver Academy announced that the school has been awarded a grant totaling $118,591 by History Colorado’s State Historical Fund (SHF) for the continued preservation of Denver Academy’s historic Chapel Library.
“We are delighted to see Denver Academy and History Colorado’s State Historical Fund continue their partnership to preserve and rehabilitate the historic Bethesda Chapel,” said District 4 Councilwoman Kendra Black. “It’s the perfect setting for a library for Lower School students. Denver Academy’s historic campus stands out as a gem as one of the historically designated landmark structures in our diverse southeast Denver district.”
This is the second grant received from the SHF for restoration and rehabilitation of DA’s Chapel Library. The first grant received in 2017 helped to restore the building’s original stained-glass windows, copper cupola and front doors to their former splendor with work completed in early 2018. This next phase of work is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2020 and will address additional areas of need including deteriorating concrete entry stairs and wrought iron railings, damaged bricks and mortar and outdated electrical systems.
DA is one of 31 recipients statewide to have been awarded a grant from the SHF as part of their April 2019 cycle. SHF grants are awarded through a competitive process. The 2019 grant is primarily for the exterior restoration of the building and covers 70% of the cost of the project with the remaining 30 percent being provided by Denver Academy. This grant and the continued support from the State Historical Fund signifies that DA values high-quality historic preservation and demonstrates strong public and community support.
Denver Academy’s Historic Chapel Library
The Chapel Library was built in 1926 and served as the chapel for the Bethesda Sanatorium, which was known worldwide for its treatment of tuberculosis patients, until the late 1990s when the hospital closed its doors. The property was purchased in 2000 by DA and converted into the school’s library becoming known among the DA community as the Chapel Library. That same year, the Chapel Library was designated a historical landmark by the Denver Landmark Commission. The 90-year-old building was designed by award-winning Denver architect Harry James Manning as an expression of the property owners’ Dutch heritage. The building showcases a traditional stepped gable, a common application of Dutch Renaissance Architecture found mostly in Amsterdam.
The Chapel Library’s main entrance is marked by a tower with an elaborately detailed copper cupola cap, an iconic structure that DA has incorporated into its school logo. Other character-defining features include the solid brick masonry walls, tall, narrow windows with multi-pane diagonal and uncommon zinc-camed glazing and the heavy, tongue-and-groove wood plank entry door in the shape of a pointed arch. It is DA’s goal to preserve the historic architectural features of the former chapel while allowing it to continue to function as a 21st century library.
“The Chapel has always been a building of reverence and reflection, and as a library, it continues to be that,” DA Historic Chapel Library Preservation Committee member and DA Librarian Jolene Gutierrez said. “Through these grants from the State Historical Fund, we are able to conserve our past through the preservation of the historic building while also preparing our students for the future. By repairing the entry to our library, updating our cooling and electrical systems, and refinishing the interior doors, we will be maintaining the beauty of this building and increasing safety and comfort.”
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