COLORADO LOSES A CHAMPION SKIER & PRESERVATIONIST

Barbara Stewart Norgren and Tom Noel.

(Photo and information provided by Tom Noel, October 4, 2011)

Norgren, Barbara Stewart (b. Golden, 1928-d. Denver, Oct. 1, 2011) Barbara was a fifth generation Coloradan whose great-great-grandfather, Joseph Jobes, settled in Golden in 1873. Her grandfather ran Stewart’s Grocery Store, whose building survives at the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and 10th Street as a Golden landmark. Barbara married C. Neil Norgren son of Carl A. Norgren of manufacturing fame and fortune. They had four children, Jeri Norgren Neff, Carol Norgren Wilbur, John Carl Norgren and David Lawrence Norgren.  Barbara attended the University of Denver and graduated from Loretto Heights College. At DU she was on the champion ski team and also one of those brave youngsters who would ski perilous down out of bounds slopes from the top of Loveland Pass to the bottom of the pass and then hitchhike back up for another race downhill.

Barbara’s illustrious career as a leading Colorado preservationist began in 1968 when as a Junior League volunteer activist she helped spearhead the first city wide inventory of historic structures for the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission. I first met Barbara in 1967 when she was a fellow volunteer at the Colorado Historical Society where we both wound up in the basement cleaning Ancient Puebloan baskets from Mesa Verde in the Society’s priceless Wetherill collection.

As one of the founding mothers of Historic Denver Inc., she organized and led some of the first tours of the Molly Brown House which she helped preserve as what is now Denver’s most popular house museum. Barbara served on the board from 1971 to 1975 before accepting a staff position, where she focused on preserving Ninth Street Historic Park. She also served on Colorado’s National Register Review Committee (1977-1980) and as a longtime member (1979-2005) and chair (1983-84) of the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission.  Barbara served as Colorado’s Keeper of the National Register (1981 – 1999).

Barbara may have set the record for National Record and Denver landmark nominations written or co-written. Her final nomination with her daughter Jeri was in 2007 of Quincy Farm at 4400 E. Quincy Avenue — one of the last surviving farmhouses in now heavily developed Cherry Hills. Barbara’s vast files, photos and knowledge of landmarks statewide made her an indispensible resource for the preservation community.

She co-authored Denver: The City Beautiful and Its Architects, 1893-1941 (Denver: Historic Denver, Inc., 1987) a basic guide to the Mile High City’s architecture with sketches of many leading architects. As the co-author I will never forget our editorial sessions, fueled by sips of vodka tonic. After I came up with some of the more colorful tales of buildings and their builders she would gently query. “Is that really true? Can you document that?” Then she would smile and I would surrender. She kept all of us honest with her relentless integrity and gracious sharing of factual information. Thousands of architecture, history and preservations enthusiasts remember Barbara Stewart Norgren as one of Colorado’s greatest human landmarks.

A memorial service will be held Thursday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. at Fairmount Cemetery’s Little Ivy Chapel
with a celebration of Barbara Norgen’s life at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion afterwards, 1 – 4 pm.

Family requests donations to Historic Denver, Inc. and the Denver Hospice

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