The Tree of Life- Denver LbNA # 58982
|Placed Date||Aug 1 2011|
|Location||William Byers Junior High School, Denver, CO|
William Byers, a horticulturalist and gold striker from Nebraska, was the founder and editor of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado. He and his wife settled in South Denver, currently a west Washington Park neighborhood, during the late 1880’s. William Byers Junior High School was built and opened in 1921 on the same property where Byers’s mansion and farm once stood between South Washington and Pearl Streets. It is believed that some of the diverse species of trees he planted still outline the property today (hence, the inspiration for the Tree of Life letterbox).
As a middle school teacher, I also have a soft spot for abandoned schools. The school has been vacant since 2003, and the future of the Collegiate Gothic building remains a question mark. The Tree of Life letterbox is a dedication to the vibrant life that once filled the hallways, classrooms, and front steps of this beautiful school.
This historical gem is located between S. Washington and S. Pearl Streets, two blocks north of E. Alameda Avenue. If you’re traveling by car, park on Pearl Street and walk to the school’s main entrance. Take some time to identify the diverse tree species, most of which are labeled, along the edges of the property. Walk up the sidewalk to the main entrance, all the way up to the doors, and admire the beautiful mural in front of you. Turn around and walk down the five steps on the left side of the metal railing. Stop at the bottom of these steps, turn to your left and take about five steps to the side of the cement landing. Sit down on the raised edge, facing north, and reach behind you. Your treasure is in a camouflage duct taped plastic bag in the crack beneath your seat.
Please bring your own pen and ink pad. And please, PLEASE be super cautious! This can be a very busy area at certain times of the day, especially with dog-walkers (there is a dog park at the Northeast corner of the property).