By Aimee Wismar
Germans in Auraria
Germans began immigrating to Denver in the 1860s and quickly became the city’s largest foreign-born group. Many German immigrants settled in Auraria. From the 1860s until the early twentieth century, German immigrants were Denver’s most prosperous immigrant group. They opened bakeries, groceries, pickle factories, and, most importantly, breweries.
St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church
St. Elizabeth’s church was a pivotal German institution in the Auraria neighborhood. The church was founded by Franciscan brothers who built the church in 187?. Although the church was intended for the German population of Auraria, many of their new Irish neighbors also flocked to the church. This caused many tensions between the new and old immigrants, and just a year after the dedication of St. Elizabeth’s, the Irish population of Auraria petitioned to have their own church.
By the early 1900s, the Auraria neighborhood was beginning to change. No longer was it a middle-class neighborhood. With the rise of industrialization in the area, Auraria became a working-class neighborhood, and the German population was replaced by Jewish and Hispanic immigrants.
St. Leo's Catholic Church
The Catholic Church was an important feature for the Irish living in the Auraria neighborhood. Initially, the Irish shared St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church with the German immigrants living in the neighborhood, but social and ethnic tensions between the groups led the Irish to request their own church in the area. St. Leo’s was funded, in part, by John K. Mullen, and was consecrated in 1890. In the early years of the church, St. Leo’s was one of the most successful Catholic churches in the city, with over 2500 parishioners, but by the early twentieth century, many of the Irish who had lived in Auraria had moved. Hispanics had begun to move into the neighborhood as well. For a period, the Irish and Hispanics shared St. Leo’s, with the Hispanic services being held in the basement. In 1925 Mullen helped finance the building of St. Cajetan’s so the Hispanic population of Auraria would have their own place to worship. Because many of the Irish families had moved from the neighborhood, St. Leo’s permanently in 1965. The church was town down with the building of the new campus, and the Auraria Technology building stands where St. Leo’s once was.
The CU Denver 4244/5244 - History Museums, Exhibits and Education class took on the task of digitally telling Auraria's history. CU Denver Professor:
for the Museum Studies Class.