Finally, a space to honor the women who helped make Colorado history is coming to Denver. The Center for Colorado Women’s History, opening March 21 at the preserved Byers-Evans House Museum, is the first of its kind—a space for open dialogue focused on women. The dedicated center will explore the accomplishments of Rocky Mountain women throughout history, as well as the racial, social, and economic challenges still facing women in the Centennial State and beyond.
Through its programs, which include talks, workshops, book clubs, and tea times, the Center will function as a space designed to encourage conversation for people to discuss women’s issues and learn about the connection between local stories and the broader scope of women’s history. “All of our programs are designed for conversational tone,” says Jillian Allison, the Center’s director, who adds that they hope to expand the focus beyond the metro area. “We want to look at rural areas and diversity among those communities.”
Although the Center officially opens on Wednesday, History Colorado has hosted women-centric programs for many years. The Byers-Evans House has included programming touching on women’s history from 1912-1924 in addition to the lives and work of people who lived in the house, and the history of early Denver, according to Allison. Now, with the opening of the Center, the house will aim to expand the programming to explore all ranges of history. “Leading up to the dedication of the Center for Colorado Women’s History, we have recently introduced themed teas, such as the Suffragists Teas,” says Allison. The monthly teas are already a hit with the audience and the Center plans to host 15 teas a year, which will feature speakers on various topics, according to Allison. “One of our goals is to generate new knowledge across Colorado and beyond Denver,” says Allison. The Center will also start serving a signature tea—the Lady Evans House tea—created by Boulder-based the Tea Spot. In addition, the Center’s book club started last month and will take place quarterly with the next session taking place on May 20 about Colorado Mansions and Castles by Linda Wommack.
The Center will coexist within the Byers-Evans House, strengthening the already rich history of the museum. The grand home was built in 1883 for William and Elizabeth Byers, who founded the Rocky Mountain News in 1859. Elizabeth Byers and Margaret Evans, wife of John Evans, were both active members of Women’s Clubs, according to Allison. They founded the first Ladies’ Union Aid Society and Denver’s Orphan Home (now Denver’s Children Center). “The women who lived in the house were inspiring,” Allison says. Anne Evans, daughter of Margaret and John, helped develop the nearby Denver Art Museum and expand the Denver Public Library system, and was involved in the restoration of the Central City Opera house, according to History Colorado. In 1889, John Evans’s son, William, bought the house, and the Evans family resided there until 1981, when the home and all its contents were donated to the Colorado Historical Society.
The Center’s grand opening will commence with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, March 21, presented by Allison, Steve Turner, executive director of the History Colorado Center; Mag Hayden, namesake for the Byers-Evans House Museum; and Kristen Blessman, president and CEO of Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Guided tours of the space will follow, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and are open to the public.
“We’re really excited to get people involved in the space and the programs,” Allison says. Allison hopes to incorporate more events into the Center’s programming. The house currently has space for an art gallery. “We are open to new ideas.”
If you go: The Center for Colorado Women’s History is located at the Byers-Evans House Museum, 1310 Bannock St. The Center’s programs will launch March 21.