If you’re looking to immerse your kiddos into some history this spring or summer, why not start with some Colorado history. The Center for Colorado Women’s History at the Byers-Evans house offers an authentic step back into the era of 1912-1924.
A walk through the Italianate style house showcases beautiful furniture, glassware, china and other items from that time period that belonged to the Evans family. The house, along with its entire contents, was donated to the Colorado Historical Society in 1891.
The Byers-Evans house was built in 1883 by the founder of the Rocky Mountain News, William Byers. He then sold it to William Gray Evans, who lived there with his family and added several additions to the house over the years.
Beside regular guided tours throughout the week, the center also offers the program, “An Afternoon into the Past.” Students are assigned a character from the house’s time period. They then get to act out that role. Education Coordinator Mike Erickson heads the program for third and fourth graders.
“They come in and they dress in a costume relevant to that character,” explains Erickson. “They go through the tour but they kind of facilitate it. They put on a costume; they have a card of the actual character that they read about it to their classmates. Then they get to perform an activity with one of the prop antiques in the house. It’s a pretty immersive school program.”
Erickson said the kids have a lot of fun acting out their roles and the center gives them admission for their families to come back and see the house for the adult tour.
Anyone interested in their classroom exploring “An Afternoon into the Past” would email Erickson to get started. Starting this fall, online registration will be available.
Over the next year, the center hosts a new “Women/Work/Justice” exhibit. The exhibit explores timeless issues through the stories of Colorado-based women. It chronicles movements that pioneered local and national workplace shifts from 1914 to the 1980s.
“We hope that people will look at the change that’s taken place, and then look at things they may want to change or make different for the next generation,” said the center’s director, Jillian Allison. “We believe women’s history is everyone’s history.”
The exhibit takes a look at women like Janet Bonnema, a civil engineer who was not allowed to work in the Eisenhower Tunnel because of superstitions about women working underground. She sued and was finally allowed to go into the tunnel to work in 1972.
Mary Petrucci lost her three small children in the Ludlow massacre. Despite her grief, she testified before the Commission on Industrial Relations and then joined the union’s national speaking tour that spoke out against the mistreatment of mine workers.
Jane Street used innovative and creative ways to organize domestic workers and negotiate higher wages for them through the Housemaids’ Union.
Allison said she thinks everyone can learn from the exhibit.
“The things we see today didn’t just happen by accident. People had to fight to make changes to secure their place in different work environments and they often worked together to make these changes. I think that these stories are really inspirational, and make us see change. These things are within our reach”
The Center for Colorado Women’s History at Byers-Evans House is located at 1310 Bannock Street, Denver, CO 80204. For more information, visit https://www.historycolorado.org.