Colorado History

New Windows Shine Light on Historic School Building in Cole

Karen Craig
Over the past few years, the historic Wyatt Academy in Denver’s Cole neighborhood has had about twenty of its windows replaced and the masonry on the building's western elevation repaired with the help of a $200,000 grant from the State Historical Fund.

The new windows are historically appropriate in appearance. They also improve the building’s safety and energy efficiency, bringing Wyatt Academy a step closer to recapturing its historical character.

“Now we have permanent windows that are beautifully handcrafted — and they open and close,” says Karen Craig, the school’s director of operations.

Wyatt Academy, a Denver Public Schools charter school located at 3620 Franklin Street, now leases the red-brick-and-sandstone building from the Phillips Family Trust and has an enrollment of 445 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school was among nineteen DPS charter schools whose contracts were renewed late last year by the school board.

click to enlarge The new windows. - KAREN CRAIG
The new windows.
Karen Craig
Wyatt opened in 1887 as Hyde Park School at 36th Avenue and Franklin Street. The building was designed by Robert Roeschlaub, the state’s first registered architect and the Denver Public School District’s architect of choice during the 1880s and 1890s. Roeschlaub, a curator at the Colorado Historical Society who worked to improve Denver's building code, also designed the Central City Opera House, Trinity United Methodist Church, Corona School, the Chamberlin Observatory at the University of Denver, and the Hover Mansion.

The school was abandoned and fell into disrepair from 1981 to 1996. DPS sold it to the New Pride organization, which in turn sold it to neighborhood businessman Chuck Phillips in 1994. Edison Learning, an education services company, and the community raised more than $6 million for the building's renovation, and it opened as the Wyatt-Edison Charter School in 1998.

The building has an irregularly shaped roof line, a small turret by the entrance, and terra cotta decoration. The school served as the backdrop for a scene in an episode of Father Dowling Mysteries, when the show was shot here in the late 1980s. Vacant at the time, the building was used to depict the sorrow of a Chicago slum.