History of the Church and Building
Unless otherwise noted, this history was researched, compiled, and written by Lori Morris as a part of St. Elizabeth’s congregation celebrating 50 years in its current building in 2015. This history was presented to the congregation in March, 2015. It is a history up to the purchase of the building in 1965.
History of Brighton, our Church, and Community Beginnings
I did not grow up in Colorado, and so this is a history I had never learned. I’ve been enjoying researching this project. My purpose in writing this history is not to give a great detailed history of Brighton. Many minds brighter than mine have done so already, and I would highly recommend the book, Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987, if you have interest in Brighton history. My point is to give some historical context to the beginnings of our Episcopalian roots in this community and to give some attachment to those forgotten ones who came before us. – Lori Morris
Here are some highlights of area history, early settlers, and churches:
1594: First known written report about the area that is now Adams County, written by the only survivor of an expedition led by Francisco Levya de Bonilla and Antonio Gutierrez de Humana.
1819: Area that is now Brighton is first considered within the boundaries of the expanding United States of America.
1820s: Long’s expedition camped in the Brighton area. His report indicated that our area was not well suited for habitation, and the area became known as the Great American Desert.
1834: Louis Vasquez settled among the Indians in what is now Commerce City, the first fur trading post in the area. His later 1835 Ft. Vasquez on Highway 85 in Platteville is a museum.
1854: Brighton area is part of Nebraska Territory if north of 168th Avenue and Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory if south of 168th Avenue. Kansas Territory stretched from current Sheridan Blvd to the current Kansas border.
1858-1859: The Pike’s Peak Gold Rush began with an estimated 100,000 men coming to Colorado, many of whom traveled along the wide and shallow Platte River through what is now Brighton. This brought the first settlers to the area, who farmed after failed mining attempts. Their names were William Hazzard, George Hazzard, Andrew Hagus, Thomas Donelson, and James Blundell. On page 21 of Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987 can be found a photo labeled as the “Platte Valley ’59ers.” Records from the Bureau of Land Management show some of these names a little north and east of the now Adams County Fairgrounds.
1861: Colorado was formed as a territory. The Brighton area south of 168th Avenue was now Arapahoe County, Colorado Territory.
1864: Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister, led the Sand Creek Massacre, killing peaceful women and children of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho. This led to a uniting of other tribes and fear of retribution among the settlers. Settlers abandoned their farms, entering Ft. Lupton or Denver for safety for a few years. Volunteer troops were formed to escort food and necessities in and out of the area until 1867 when the Cheyenne and Arapaho were relocated. Some of the stories of this time talk about the Indians being ”on the warpath.“ See “Benjamin F. Twombly” story in Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987 for a story of this time.
1870s: Brighton was formed in the 1870s and was originally called Hughes Station. We had a railway stop, unlike other communities to our north and south.
1876: Colorado became the 38th state.
1881: First plat of Brighton filed by Daniel Carmichael. This area is just a block from our church and was a triangular shape with Bridge Street on the north, First Street on the west, and the railroad tracks on the east.
1882: Dewey Strong filed a plat that is now the downtown area, north of Bridge Street.
1886: Presbyterian Church first church to form in Brighton. On First Avenue, it is currently considered a historic landmark.
1887: Brighton was incorporated.
1888: St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, the second church in Brighton, opened on the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Bush Street. This is the church across the street.
1888-1907: Episcopalians worship through an unnamed mission of Ft. Lupton, founded by Trinity Church of Greeley.
1893: Sanborn Map. Periodically, Sanborn maps were created for fire insurance risk purposes. The maps I have found include information on what the church was made of, how it was heated, how it was lit, and the shape of the building/outbuildings. At this time, there were empty lots.
1896: Methodist Episcopal group forms, but does not have a church. They struggled to keep an ongoing minister. They thought that having their own church would help attract a minister to stay.
1899: Sanborn Map still shows an empty lot where our church is.
1900: I counted 308 people on the Brighton census records.
1901: Denver and Adams County were split off of Arapahoe. Brighton became the official county seat in 1904.
1900: Mrs. Mary Twombly, who lived on the corner of 4th and Bush, behind our church, donated two lots (numbers 19 and 20 in block 16) as a site to build a church for The Methodist Episcopal Church of Brighton, later Brighton United Methodist Church. The church building cost $2,500 to build and was dedicated on Jan 13, 1901.
1903: The eastern 88 miles touching the Kansas border were no longer part of Adams County.
1903: Episcopalians in Brighton worshipped under St. Luke’s Mission [likely from Montclair].
1904: In January, the Adams County Court House [formerly Daniel Carmichael’s home] burned, destroying all records it held.
1904: From All The Way An Account of the Development of a City and a Church. “Bricks from the burned Court House [formerly Daniel Carmichael’s house] were given to the Methodist Church. They were brought to the parsonage lot. Dinner was furnished free to all who helped with the tearing down and hauling of the bricks.” The Carmichael house, above, was largely covered in ivy, and little of the brick can be seen.
See .pdf for more information: Courthouses
1904: Sanborn Map. The first appearance of our church with a much simpler footprint than it has now.
See .pdf for more information, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library: Brighton+Apr.+1904,+Sheet+2_DenverPublicLibrary
1906: The Methodist Episcopal Church, still trying to attract and keep a minister, built a parsonage, our current Grace House. On July 6, 1906, S.M. Stouffer gave two adjoining lots for the parsonage. The building of the new parsonage began in December, 1906, but I did not find a completion date. The building was paid for in 1914.
See .pdf for more information: Grace House
1907: Unknown: Episcopalians worshipped through St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Ft. Lupton.
1908: Sanborn Map. The first appearance of the parsonage, our Grace House.
See .pdf for more information, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library: Brighton+July+1908,+Sheet+2_DenverPublicLibrary
1910: Although the houses were not yet numbered in Brighton on the 1910 census, one can find W.T. Miller likely living in the parsonage as he lists his occupation as “M.E. Minister.” He is living with his wife, Carrie, one son, and three daughters. Brighton population: 850.
1913: Sanborn Map. No changes from 1908.
1915: Ft.Lupton provided services to Episcopalians in Brighton.
1916: According to Maude Linstrom Frandsen in All The Way, An Account of the Development of a City and a Church, the cornerstone contains the following items: Holy Bible, Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, membership list, list of official members, building committee, list of members of the Ladies Aid, copy of Central Christian Advocate, copy of New York Advocate, copy of Epworth Journal, copy of Sunday Journal, copy of Sunday Classmate, copy of Sunday Advocate and other School publications, copy of Brighton Blade, copy of Brighton Register, and copy of Denver University Clarion.
From All The Way, An Account of the Development of a City and a Church:
“The Methodists decided to enlarge the church. The contract for $4,568 was let to R.H. Kaster. Work was begun on May 1, and 90 days were allowed to finish it.
According to the account in the newspaper the plans were as follows: ‘Even when the present walls are to be torn down the bricks used in the foundation will be removed and new red pressed bricks are to be put in their place.’
‘The building will be raised three feet, giving a 10 ft. ceiling in the basement which will extend under the whole church 54 ft. by 40 ft. in size. This large room will be used for Sunday School classes, social events, gymnasium, kitchen for Ladies Aid, and dining tables to seat 150 persons. There will be a triple window, possibly of stained glass, in front on the west side.’
‘Seating capacity of 350 with possibility of adding somewhat to this by using chairs in the aisles.’
‘An addition will be constructed on the north side, and area 24 ft. by 14 ft. [where our old altar is] which may be shut off from the main room for Sunday School purposes and a similar room will be placed on the southeast side, 14 ft. square [our sacristy].’
‘No definite arrangements have been made for a pipe organ but with the idea of purchasing one eventually and having a place ready for it, a room 11 ft. by 16 ft. will be added to the east end of the pulpit.'”
The book goes on to say that new pews, possibly the ones we have today (??), were to be shipped from Michigan. The dedication of the “new church” was September 17, 1916. “It was rebuilt, enlarged, and handsomely finished with white calcimined walls, new pews, and exterior of gray brick.” The picture below was shared with permission from Rev. Joel Kershaw of the United Methodist Church of Brighton. It was printed in 1925.
See .pdf for more information: 1916 Sanctuary
See .pdf for more information: Basement
See .pdf for more information: Coffee Hour Area
See .pdf for more information: Corner View
See .pdf for more information: Cornerstone
See .pdf for more information: North Addition
See .pdf for more information: 1925 Church Photo
1918 – WWII: St. Timothy’s Mission, the first Brighton Episcopal Mission, at 5th Avenue and Bush Street. Rev. Hall, in Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987, described them as “worshipping in their own building.” This appears to be the current Redeemer Bible Church, the only church building currently at that intersection. It was formerly the Seventh Day Adventist Building. It is possible, but I have no evidence, that we built that building.
See .pdf for more information: Redeemer Bible St Timothy
1919: Robert A. Russell provided worship for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1920: Edward C. Johnson of St. John’s, Greeley provided worship for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1920: J. Freeben Johnson is the minister living in the parsonage with his wife, daughter, and a boarder. Population of Brighton: 2,715.
1920: Sanborn Maps: Note garage behind Grace House, which was next to a stable. Note additions, including one to the east. Also note, we have St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on the southeast corner of Bush Street and 5th Avenue.
See .pdf for more information, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library: Brighton+May+1920,+Sheet+6DenverPublicLibrary
1928: Sanborn Maps: St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church on the southeast corner of Bush and 5th Avenue is still labeled as an Episcopal Church. Also note the Methodist Episcopal Church, now with a northeast addition.
See .pdf for more information, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library: Brighton+May+1928,+Sheet+6DenverPublicLibrary – Copy
1930: Samuel A. McPhetres provided worship for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1930: Otto C. Domer is listed on the census, living in the parsonage with his wife, one son, and three daughters. Population of Brighton: 3,394.
1932: From page 188 of Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987, “The library moved to a storefront in the Counter Building on South Third Avenue in 1932, with Dorothea Cheney as librarian.” I believe this to be across the street in the same block as our church. See 1939.
1938: From the “Seventh-Day Adventist Church” entry in Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987, speaking of their move from a church outside town to a church inside of town, “They found a piece of property and an older building on 5th and Bush. It was purchased for $700. The old church building in the country was then sold for $200…. Elder Henry E. Meyers and Ludwig Wenzel worked very hard to clean and repair the building and to clean up the outside, for everything was in bad repair. John Ellse gave much needed assistance. Trees were planted and other repairs made, until the area became a nice and neat place of worship for the Brighton German S.D.A. Church.”
This building was St. Timothy’s Episcopal Mission, but I am not clear if there was another resident between us and the Brighton German S.D.A. Church. There are pictures of the old church before the addition it has now on page 257. The photo is dated 1933, supposedly before the building was sold. It is unclear who the congregants are. I think the church looks like something out of Little House on the Prairie! I am unable to post this photo.
1939: From page 188 of Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987, “When Dorothea [Cheney, the librarian from across the street] married the Methodist minister in 1939, Stella Kaster became the librarian.” See 1940.
1939: St. Barnabas, Denver, provided worship for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1940ish: Undated final Sanborn Map. Note new altar addition and changes to northeast.
See .pdf for more information, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library: Brighton+May+1928-Oct.+1948,+Sheet+6DenverPublicLibrary
1940: Dr. Philip E. Snider is on the census living in the parsonage with his wife, Dorothea (the librarian). No children are listed. Population of Brighton: 4,029.
1940: From All The Way, An Account of the Development of a City and a Church:
“The Brighton Methodist Church was crowded again. Chairs were in the aisles at each service. The congregation was so large that every chair was brought up from the basement.
The church was to be remodeled. No indebtedness to be incurred in the renovation program. Work was to be done with funds on hand.
Reconstruction plans included: remodeled auditorium, new choir platform, re-roofing the main part of the present church building (this was to be done in sections), new oak pews installed in the auditorium, and made considerably longer than in use now, and three ceiling arches to be built (these arches would be draped with blue velour). The arches would front the parlors on each side of the auditorium. The parlors would be within vision line and would be used to seat the overflow crowd. These parlors would be finished with rugs, furniture, and cottage curtains at the windows.
An addition would be built on the east side, 14 ft. by 18 ft. and would house the choir platform. It would seat 40 persons normally but a portable railing could be moved to make more space.
Supervision of the work was to be done by Mr. Algie Hight, J.C. Counter, William Birlew, Mrs R.K. Candlin, and Mrs. Philip Snider [Dorothea, the librarian].”
See .pdf for more information: Sanctuary
1958: Robert F. Stubb provided worship services for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
From St. Elizabeth’s Parish Register:
“St. Timothy’s Mission began with the formation of a Ladies Guild in March 1958 and services were held once each month in the Masonic Temple until October 15, 1958 when Reverend Robert F. Stub was appointed Vicar and the name was changed to St. Elizabeth’s Chapel, Brighton. Property was acquired at 1225 Northern Avenue and the lower floor converted of this residence into a Chapel, services being held each Sunday until November 1, 1960 when the Vicar accepted a call as Rector, St. Andrew’s Church , Milwaukee. The Reverend Frs. Hopper and Collite supplied until January 1, 1961 when the Venerable Eric Smith was appointed to take charge.”
1960: Methodist Church members planned a new church on the site at Third and Bush. From the proposed picture, it appears that they planned to tear down our current church and start over. Although unsure, Rev. Joel Kershaw of the current United Methodist Church, thought that the money involved in that project was cost prohibitive. At one point, a member of their congregation mortgaged his farm to buy the land for the current United Methodist Church. They were able to build it with the funds from the sale of their old church to St. Elizabeth’s.
See .pdf for more information: Tearing Down
1961: Eric A. C. Smith provided worship services for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1964: George W. Graydon provided worship services for the Episcopalians of Brighton.
1964: From St. Elizabeth’s Parish Registers, historical data page: “During November and December  two conferences with the 1st Methodist Church of Brighton were held in efforts to obtain and purchase the Methodist Church property on 3rd and Bush Streets. A parish meeting was held Sunday, November 22nd in REA Bldg – 60 present – to discuss building plans for St. Elizabeth’s. Every member canvass was held resulting in significant ******* in pledges. On January 11th, 1965 a proposal to purchase the 1st Methodist Church of Brighton was approved at a special Bishop’s Committee Meeting and submitted to the Board of Trustees, Diocese of Colorado. On St. Paul’s Day, January 25, 1965, the Board of Trustees authorized purchase of the 1st Methodist Church of Brighton for sale of $25,000 and sale of 1225 Northern Avenue. On March 19th, purchase was completed and St. Elizabeth’s took possession of the property. First services in the newly acquired property were held March 21st at 9:00 AM – Holy Confirmation with Bishop Minnis officiating.”
These are three architectural drawings for the future of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church. The designs have the name of Rev. George Graydon on them.
See .pdf for more information: Remodel Aerial
See .pdf for more information: Remodel Inside
See .pdf for more information: Remodel Outside
All The Way, An Account of the Development of a City and a Church by Maude Linstrom Frandsen (not copyrighted or dated, but appears to be written around 1962 – 1963), which can be found through the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission or the United Methodist Church of Brighton.
The Episcopal Church in Colorado 1860 – 1963 by Allen du Pont Breck (available from our church library).
Brighton, Colorado and Surrounding Area 1887 – 1987 reprinted in 2006 by The Brighton Historic Preservation Commission.
Unless otherwise noted, all black and white photos were taken from All The Way, An Account of the Development of a City and a Church by Maude Linstrom Frandsen.
All color photos were taken by Lori Morris.
Aja Tibbs, Long Range & Historic Preservation Planner, City of Brighton
Janie Talbot and members of the 2007 St. Elizabeth’s History Committee
Jim Hood, relative of Alice Johns Porter, whose name appears on our processional cross.
Rev. Bill Kindel, current priest of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church
Rev. James Ragsdale, former priest of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Joel Kershaw of United Methodist Church of Brighton
Sanborn Maps, courtesy of the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission and Denver Public Library.
Parish Registers of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, Volumes I, II, and III.