Project Update July 2021: Dearfield

Dearfield Hosts Legislative Capital Development Committee

On site in Dearfield, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Black American West Museum and Greeley-based Dearfield Committee hosted representatives of the State Legislative Capital Development Committee for a presentation and tour about the Dearfield Dream Project on Wednesday, July 21, at the Dearfield site. Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine helped organize the event, which featured presentations and a tour of Dearfield African American Farming Colony by long-time Dearfield advocates Dr. Bob Brunswig and Dr. George Junne of University of Northern Colorado (UNC). Both Daphne Rice-Allen and Denise Leadon spoke on behalf of Black American West Museum, owners of the Dearfield townsite. Participants enjoyed the event, including other Weld County commissioners, UNC President Andy Feinstein, and representatives of History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI). CBS4 was on hand providing coverage of the event, as can be viewed in its story The Fight to Save a Colorado Ghost Town: Dearfield is Steeped in Black History.

Colorado Preservation, Inc. listed Dearfield on Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 1999 and has worked with the many partners since then on preservation of the site.

On site in Dearfield, courtesy of Colorado Preservation, Inc.

The visit followed an earlier presentation by Bob Brunswig and George Junne to the Capital Development Committee at the Statehouse in late June. The purpose of that presentation and last week’s visit, which included members of the Legislative Black Caucus and featured Sen. James Coleman, was to explore the possibility of a legislative appropriation to support Dearfield preservation efforts. Private sector contributions greatly aided these efforts, including $15,000 from PDC Energy and $7,500 from Occidental Petroleum.

The Dearfield Dream Project is a multi-organizational research and historic sites preservation program. The work builds on earlier steps by Black American West Museum and scholars from the City of Greeley Museums, University of Northern Colorado, University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, and grant-funded private historical resource consultants, including participation by History Colorado and CPI. The project seeks to preserve the Dearfield townsite as a vital Colorado and national historical resource, increasing recognition of Dearfield’s contribution to African American settlement and economic self-sufficiency, civil rights, and social justice efforts. Dearfield was an unincorporated town in Weld County, Colorado, from 1910 through the late 1930s, founded in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, an African American businessman and entrepreneur who purchased and homesteaded land used for the establishment of the townsite.

July 28, 2021 update
Excellent news. National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant Program awarded University of Northern Colorado’s Dr. Brunswig and Dr. Junne a grant of nearly $500,000 for the next phase of preservation efforts for Dearfield buildings. Congratulations!

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