9th & Colorado History

Since the early 1920’s, the 9th & Colorado site has played an important role in the development of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the development of the surrounding neighborhoods, and significant advancements in the field of medicine. For more than 75 years, the 9th & Colorado campus thrived, growing to more than 2 million square feet covering more than 26 acres. It was home to medical professionals that pioneered cancer research, public health, critical vaccines, open heart surgery, diagnostic ultrasound, genetic cloning, and the prevention and treatment of child abuse. By the late 1990’s, the University had outgrown the constraints of the 9th & Colorado campus, initiating a new era of transition.

1920's - 1940's

The Creation of a Campus

New Era: 1950's - 1960's

Medical Advancements

New Era: 1970's - 1990's

The Campus Expansion

New Era: 2000's - Present

Transition

1922

Credit: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection - Call #C MSS WH 2010

Credit: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection - Call #C MSS WH 2010

On July 7, 1922 Frederick G. Bonfils, owner of the Denver Post, donates 17 acres of vacant land for the construction of a new medical center.

1925

The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Call# - 28542

Credit: The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Call# - 28542

Colorado General Hospital, having been chartered to provide free care for Colorado's poor, along with the School of Medicine, Psychopathic Hospital, Nurses' Home and Power Plant are dedicated on January 23, 1925.

1936

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call #CUHSLCON_M109

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call #CUHSLCON_M109

The School of Nursing starts its first Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program.

1937

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call # CUHSLDML_M118

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call # CUHSLDML_M118

In 1935 Ella Strong Denison, widow of Dr. Charles Denison donates a memorial library and auditorium. The dedication takes place on May 28, 1937.

1939

The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Call# - 23267

Credit: The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Call# - 23267

Workers in the New Deal's Works Progress Administration build the new wing of the Colorado General Hospital.

1943

Credit: Bonfils Blood Center

Credit: Bonfils Blood Center

Helen Bonfils and Dr. Osgoode Philpott open the Belle Bonfils Memorial Blood Bank, named after Helen Bonfil's beloved mother, on February 27, 1943 at Colorado General Hospital. The Bonfils Blood Bank moved into their new building in 1957.

1945

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call # CUHSLSOM_M103

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call # CUHSLSOM_M103

The campus retains its classic Neo-Georgian architectural style while expanding in size within the site's original borders.

1950's - 1960's

Credit: The Tom Noel Collection

Credit: The Tom Noel Collection

  • In 1951 a new Cancer Research Wing is dedicated to "Colorado's Mother of Public Health", Dr. Florence Sabin. Dr. Sabin's work resulted in enforcement of communicable disease laws.
  • In 1951, Gordon Meiklejohn becomes chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He and others pioneered vaccines that helped eliminate smallpox worldwide.
  • In 1953 Dr. Henry Swan performed the first successful open-heart surgeries using hypothermia by placing patients in a bathtub of ice water to suspend circulation, leaving him only minutes to operate. Dr. Swan's work pioneered open-heart surgery.
  • In 1955 Dr. Joseph H. Holmes pioneers the use of diagnostic ultrasound and the artificial kidney.
  • Dr. Theodore Puck wins the Albert Lasker Award. Dr. Puck was an early pioneer of genetics and cloning and developed the international standard for classifying and numbering chromosomes. His key work ultimately made the human genome project possible.

1953

Credit: Picture provided by Mark Couch of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.

The Webb-Waring Institute was founded in 1924 as the Colorado Foundation for Research in Tuberculosis at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Dr. Waring became the director and moved the Institute to the University of Colorado Medical School campus in 1953.

1962

Credit: The Kempe Foundation

Credit: The Kempe Foundation

In 1962, Dr. Kempe and Dr. Brandt F. Steele published the paper, "The Battered Child Syndrome", which led to identification and recognition of child abuse by the medical community. Dr. Kempe received two nominations for the Nobel Prize, one of which was for his contribution to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Due to his efforts, child abuse laws exist in all 50 states.

1963

Credit: The John J. Conger Estate Collection

Credit: The John J. Conger Estate Collection

Dr. John J. Conger becomes Dean of The School of Medicine and Head of the Medical Center and guides the rapid expansion of the complex. He became acting Chancellor, receiving the University of Colorado Medal for Outstanding Service.

1965

Credit: The Tom Noel Collection

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call # CUHSLCMC_M107

Colorado University opens the new hospital on the north side of 9th Avenue. The campus doubles in size and expands onto a golf driving range to the north. This complex connects to the old campus via the Research Bridge, dubbed "The Bridge to the Future."

In Addition

  • In 1965, the School of Nursing initiates the first Nurse Practitioner Program in the country.
  • Dr. Thomas E. Starzl performed the first successful human liver transplant in 1967.

1970's - 1990's

  • In 1977, the School of Dentistry is established.
  • Colorado General Hospital becomes University Hospital in 1979, and the rest of the medical center is renamed the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC).
  • The School of Nursing initiates a doctoral program in 1990.
  • The Skaggs School of Pharmacy moves to the campus from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1992.

1997

After an era of sustained institutional growth, UCHSC's massive growth in personnel and facilities pushes up against the limitation of its urban borders.

Credit:  Wikipedia, Public Domain

Courtesy of the Special Collections, Health Sciences Library, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. Call #CUHSLAMC_M105

Planning began in 1996 to move the UCHSC eight miles east to the Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, CO.

2000's - Present

The Colorado State Legislature passes a bill requiring the University of Colorado to enter into an agreement with a third-party master developer to redevelop the 9th and Colorado site by June 30, 2006.

  • The University selects a developer to purchase and redevelop the vacated medical campus in 2004.
  • June 2007 - the University of Colorado Hospital moves to the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
  • The Denver City Council approves zoning for redevelopment of the vacated campus in 2007.
  • February 2011 - the economic downturn prevents the first developer from acquiring and developing the property.
  • In April 2011, the University engages a Florida based developer to purchase and develop the property.
  • In March 2012, a third developer attempts to acquire and develop the property.
  • June 2012 - Residents protest when a Walmart is proposed as the anchor tenant.
  • September 3, 2013 - The University issues a new Developer Call for Offers.
  • February 20, 2014 - Continuum and CIM enter into Purchase Contract with the University.
  • January 30, 2015 - Continuum and CIM acquire the campus.
  • March 2015 - Continuum and CIM commence with demolition and new era begins.
  • March, 2015 - Demolition Begins

For progress updates, visit the Development News Page.

Personal Stories

We reached out to the community and asked them to share their 9+CO stories, both past and present. Read their stories below.

Dr. John J. Conger by David Conger

My father moved our family from Indiana to Denver in 1953 to head Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the CU School of Medicine. Ultimately he became the Medical School Dean, CU Vice-President for Medical Affairs and the Acting Chancellor of the Health Sciences Center. He oversaw the construction of the new University Hospital as the campus doubled in size. He was particularly proud of helping found the John F. Kennedy Child Development Center which has grown into JFK Partners that supports Colorado's developmental disability and special health care needs communities.

The John J. Conger PhD Lectureship and Visiting Professorship in Child Mental Health Policy at the University of Colorado has been established to follow his lead in promoting awareness of the plight of children in our society and facilitate continued improvement in human health and development. Every year this endowment allows distinguished speakers to come to the Anschutz Medical Campus to discuss the latest developments in child psychology and children’s mental health policy with Colorado’s medical community. His life’s work, started at 9th and Colorado, goes on.