It's impossible to travel through Five Points without thinking of Charles Cousins. His signs are everywhere -- offering this property for rent, announcing that his company manages another. But Cousins, who passed away Monday morning at the age of 91, left his mark in so many other ways.
The history of Five Points, and of Denver itself, stretches through his life. He was delivered in 1918 by Dr. Justina Ford, the country's first female black doctor. His father, Charles L. Porter, was a Pullman porter, one of the few careers open to black men, and he'd take his son along when A. Philip Randolph, the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, came to town in the '30s, rallying workers from the pulpit of the Zion Baptist Church. At night, young Charlie would head over to the Roxy to catch a ten-cent movie at the only non-segregated movie house in town.
Later, Charles Cousins would buy that theater, which now is a nightclub.
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That was just one of Cousins's many properties. After dropping out of college, he'd followed his father and worked as a porter, but the job wasn't for him. Instead, he opened a bar, the 715 Bar, at 715 East 26th Street, and soon was buying up buildings -- parcels that many developers have been coveting for years, decades, hoping to replace the aging apartment buildings and storefronts with big, pricey projects filled with expensive lofts in increasingly gentrified Five Points.
Now they may get their chance.
But the fate of one building is already determined. Cousins, who was known for his philanthropic efforts, has willed the Simpson Hotel on Welton to the Five Points Historic Association.
Cousins was a big part of that history, and the area won't be the same without him.