| News |

Denver Will Celebrate Eddie Maestas's Garden Tomorrow -- But Where Is His Family?

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The best intentions went very awry at the triangular slice of land between Broadway, Park Avenue West and Lawrence Street. The city transformed the space into what was supposed to be an urban oasis and officially named it Edward J. "Eddie" Maestas Park in November 2006, in honor of the man who'd been called the mayor of Larimer Street for his tireless efforts on behalf of the area in the years before Coors Field opened. The neighborhood lost Maestas not long after -- and now the city's lost track of his family.

See also: Eddie Maestas Gave His Heart to the Larimer Neighborhood. Now His Name is at the Heart of It

Eddie Maestas's family had moved from Leadville to the Larimer Street neighborhood when he was a kid, and he grew up in this area, which was then a melting pot of immigrants and working-class folks. He got his first job there and, in 1975, he bought Johnnie's Market on Larimer. But he didn't just run the store; he ran the neighborhood, which was then so down-and-out it was known as NoDough. He helped out neighborhood businesses, he fed the homeless who wandered the street that had become Denver's skid row, he hosted festivals in the area, to remind people that this historic area still had plenty of potential.

In 1997, Maestas closed Johnnie's Market, just two years after Coors Field opened two blocks away; he passed away soon after. But by then, everything was in motion to turn the Ballpark neighborhood into one of the hottest parts of town.

And a hotspot for urban problems. Because city dwellers and retail businesses aren't the only ones moving into the neighborhood; more homeless are hanging out here, too. And by 2011, Eddie Maestas Park had unofficially turned into the Bumuda Triangle, a haven for the homeless and those who preyed on them. The place looked so bad that the Maestas family asked that the sign honoring Eddie be taken off the park; the city complied.

But over the summer, in response to input from neighborhood groups, the city once again transformed the space: this time into a fenced-off urban garden.

Unlike the large sign commemorating Maestas that was installed here in 2006 -- and taken down five years later -- there's now just a small plaque denoting that this area is the Eddie Maestas Community Garden. On Thursday, October 16, the neighborhood is invited to the garden at 5 p.m. for a tour and refreshments, as well as a meeting of the Ballpark Neighborhood Association.

Unfortunately, Eddie Maestas's survivors may not be there to see the new sign dedicated to him: So far, the city has been unable to reach members of his family. Know how to reach them? Tell us in the comments section below.

Send tips to patricia.calhoun@westword.com.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.