History of Elm Court 1895-1972

4527 Elm Court is in Homer’s Second Addition, in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Denver Colorado. It was a farm in the 19th century, a mile from Denver city limits at 38th & Zuni.

The first home built on the 4500 block of Elm was the single-story house at 4575 in 1895, followed by 4535 in 1900. The homes at 4527 and 4529 were constructed in 1902. Last was the house on the northeast corner of the block at 4583 in 1909. These five houses were the only homes on the 4500 block of Elm Court for many years. This was following the Panic of 1893, which ended the time of the Victorian homes. Houses in this area were decidedly simple and practical.

At that time, Elm Court did not connect to 44th Avenue, 45th Avenue did not yet exist and so 4527 was on a large lot at the end of the street accessed from 46th Avenue to the north. There was a stable in the back, and plenty of room for horses since the parcel was 6 lots, three times as big north to south as it is today.

The area was more countryside than neighborhood, as the limits of the town of Highlands were a half mile south at Prospect Road (38th Avenue). Highlands, along with the new subdivisions to the north, were annexed by Denver in 1900. The streets were unpaved and no public utilities were available. Elm Court was probably not at the grade it is today.

There were no houses along the east side of Elm and only five houses on the east side of Eliot Street, the last at 4532 Eliot. No houses were on the west of Eliot and only two on the east side of Federal Boulevard (called Boulevard F) before 1910. The next houses to the east were three blocks away on Bryant Street. These 10 homes between Federal and Bryant stood alone for two decades on the outskirts of Denver.

4527 was constructed in 1902 by an unknown builder, and its early owners and occupants are unclear for the first six years. Records show on July 29, 1908 it was purchased by Lena Simon, age 53 (born 1855 in Germany). She lived here from with her husband Christian, 66 (born 1842), and children Lydia, Bertha, William, Edward & Emily. Lena and Christian were German immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for over 25 years and came through Wisconsin where their children were born between 1886-1894. The 1910 U.S. Census shows the Simons lived here and had no mortgage.

In the 1920 census, Lena Simon lived at 4527 with sons William and Edward, who both worked in a paint shop. Christian was no longer a resident and may have died by this time. In 1922, the home was wired for electricity, which consisted of one ceiling light in each room. All lights and fixtures were owned by the Denver Gas & Electric Light Co. They could be easily removed upon non-payment of the utility bill.

Lena was getting on in years and passed away on February 16, 1923. Her probate case gives details of the house, as there was a dispute among her children whether she was of sound mind when writing her will. Her daughter Lydia Hinds and husband lived in the house throughout 1923 as they looked for renters. Particularly telling is Lydia’s statement to the court that “the home at 4527 Elm Court is not modern, no city improvements, and therefore I could not get more than $25 rent.” Also of interest is that William painted the kitchen on 5/8/23 and Edward fixed the well on 11/24/23. There is no well as of 2016. It may have been on property later sold to other builders.

The character of the neighborhood changed dramatically in 1924–1926, as streets were paved, water mains and sewer lines constructed. Most of the single-story homes on the east side of Elm Court, Decatur and Clay to the east and south were built at this time, about 120 in all. It’s possible 45th Avenue was connected to Federal at this time, but there was still just a field south of 45th and west of Eliot.

On 10/3/1924 Lena Simon’s estate sold the house to Emil Peterson, age 42 (born 1882) and wife Sophia. The Petersons were Swedish immigrants who had been in the U.S. for about 25 years. It’s likely the Petersons built the addition to the back of the house and indoor plumbing. The 1930 census reports Emil was a repairman in the oil industry. They had a boarder, probably to help make ends meet. The value of the home in 1930 was $2,000 and had no radio. The small houses on the east side of Elm were valued at $500 each (about 1,000 time less than today).

By 1935, it’s possible the Petersons had moved out and rented their house. It may have been rented by Howard Williams, born in Kansas in 1912 (the 1940 census is unclear). He reported to the census taker that in 1935 he lived in the same place. Howard worked in the brick industry and lived with his wife Mildred & son Darrell. Rent was $35/month – $10 a month more than Lydia Simon Hinds could get ten years prior.

Emil may have passed away by 1942, when the lots to the south were split and sold off. On 5/5/1942, lots 29–30 (4527 Elm Court) was divided between Sophia and sons Alvin, Verner & Arthur (born between 1910 and 1915).


Lots 25-28 to the south were retained by Sophia Peterson. She sold them on 6/6/1945 to Walter & Helen Schafer, who built the house on the corner at 2855 West 45th Avenue, completed in 1946. At this time, Elm Court had been completed to 44th Avenue on the south. Houses were built to the south and west, filling in to 44th & Federal. This was to alleviate the housing shortage after World War II.

In 1955, the Schafers divided their property and a duplex was built on lots 27-28, between their house and 4527. At this point, the neighborhood was essentially built out. The 2-story duplex on 45th & Clay was built in 1965, and the next new house was 4577 Elm Court in 2009.

Older neighbors recall the Hanrahan family, who lived at 4527 Elm Court for many years. They had four boys and twin girls, all sharing two bedrooms and a single bathroom. They taught their kids that they could achieve anything they set their mind on. One child, Emily Hanrahan Howell Warner, dreamed of becoming a pilot. She began studying in 1961, became a flight instructor and logged over 3,500 hours before she was finally allowed to pilot a jet herself in 1974. She was the first female airline pilot in the United States.

It’s unclear when the Hanrahans left. By the 1980s, Northside (as it was called then) had become an undesireable place to live. 4527 Elm Court changed owners several times and was sometimes rented, sometimes vacant. That’s the next chapter of the story.

More about Elm Court

© Robert B Pickering 2017