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Jefferson County Neighborhoods:
The Hiwans of Evergreen

East of Evergreen Parkway from Bergen Park to Meadow Drive
zip code 80439

Barbara and Gene Sternberg were blunt about the impact of Hiwan developments in their book Evergreen, Our Mountain Community: “it was the subdividing of the Hiwan lands that sealed the fate of Evergreen, changing it from a farming community and sleepy summer tourist village to an automobile-congested suburb of Denver.” There are approximately 1,700 homes within ten Hiwan subdivisions that vary from small condos to huge mansions and a gated “Island.”

Hiwan Hiway 74 sign

Hiwan Hills was the first subdivision plan approved in 1949. Records show the homes built and recorded as follows: Hiwan Hills (1953), Hiwan Village (1958), and “Hiwan filings” 1, 3-10 (1963). Other subdivision names are The Island, The Trails, Hiwan Village, Hiwan Fairways, Lodges, The Ridge at Hiwan, Range at Hiwan, and Greens at Hiwan. JeffCo records indicate The Ridge At Hiwan (1986) and The Island (1987) and the Trails were the final filings. The early developers sold lots to builders and individuals. Consequently most homes are unique in appearance without the tract-look of most subdivisions. The neighborhoods vary from single-family homes to condos and town homes.

The Hiwan neighborhoods are the bridge melding pioneer life to present day Evergreen. In the 1830s and 40s, Evergreen was known as “Elk Park” by early government scouts and surveyors. The 1859 Gold Rush enticed miners to the area only to discover that the wealth of Evergreen lay in its trees not potential minerals. Timber was the means to prosperity for settlers-turned-loggers who erected sawmills, clear cut thick forests, and hauled lumber products to Golden and Denver.

Mary Neosho Williams
Mary Neosho Williams

Brigadier General Thomas Williams’ death in the 1862 Civil War Battle of Baton Rouge charted the course of the Hiwan legacy. In the summer of 1886, his widow, Mary Neosho Williams, and daughter, Josepha purchased 1280 acres of land from Scottish-born, master carpenter and stone mason John “Jock” Spence, who built additions to the log cabin that gradually expanded to 17 rooms (including a chapel) now known as the Hiwan Homestead Museum.

In 1889, Josepha Williams (“Dr. Jo”) graduated from Denver’s Gross Medical School and married Episcopal Deacon Charles Winfred Douglas, a New Yorker who had come west due to health problems, in 1896. Over the years the Williams-Douglas home grew into a campus of many more buildings to accommodate Episcopalians attending the Summer Conferences. Mrs. Williams had house tents built with wooden platform floors, wood burning stoves and double canvas walls for what was known as “Camp Neosho.”

Denver made the area accessible by building roads to their parks in Evergreen and along Bear Creek from 1914 to the 1920s. There were about 500 year-round residents in Evergreen, but the tiny mountain hamlet was filled with 5,000 visitors during summer.

After the death of Mary Neosho Williams in 1914, the Douglas family established area electrical service in 1917. Dr. Jo died in 1938, one year after planning the Douglas Park subdivision (north and above the downtown). Tulsa oilman Darst Buchanan purchased the Williams-Douglas property and his wife Ruth renamed the area Hiwan. Their prize winning Hiwan Herefords became known throughout the country. The Buchanans added 10,000 acres to the original acreage from 1938 to 1966.

Hiwan Development Company was formed in the late 1950s with John Casey (one of three sons-in-law) and gradually shifted business activities from cattle to subdividing land for development. Key factors that supported the venture was improving the quality of the community’s utilities with underground water and sewerage service.

Hiwan condos

The Hiwan Golf Club, which is privately owned by the David Fowler Trust, was established in 1962 for residential community around it. The development company’s thinking was “build it and they will come”—and they did. The rising popularity of the automobile and the opening of I-70 in the early 1970s contributed to success. Denver banks were reluctant to provide mortgages for foothills properties until Hiwan began to be developed.

Hiwan home

Today’s Hiwan residents appreciate the climate, privacy, open space, wildlife, and proximity to Denver. There is currently much controversy over some HOA board members wanting to change the covenants to prevent front yard playgrounds and visible parking of large RVs and boats. So to think of the Hiwans as “Stepford” neighborhoods is unrealistic. Their transition brings to mind a quote of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson: “While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many.”

Traditions: Most neighborhood boards meet twice annually, organize an annual summer picnic at gather at Dedisse Park, and sponsor tree trim clean-up days.

Organized: The Colorado Secretary of State’s website lists ten Hiwan homeowners associations that set and enforce covenants.

Real estate values: Real estate values: from $200,000 to a few as high as $6 million. Public JeffCo schools: Bergen Meadow and Bergen Valley Elementary, Evergreen Middle and Evergreen High School.

Plus: Relatively close to shopping, excellent JeffCo Open Space trails nearby, stable real estate value.

Minus: Initiation fee to Hiwan Golf Club (www.hiwan.com) is $25,000 and private ownership does not allow member control.

Sources: Barbara and Gene Sternberg, “Evergreen, Our Mountain Community”, 1987, 2004; JeffCo Historical Society archives at Hiwan Homestead Museum; JeffCo Open Space employees John Steinle and Susan Grannell; Carole Lomond, “Lariat Loop, Scenic & Historic Byway”, 2002; Carole Lomond, “Irresistible Evergreen”, City & Mountain Views Magazine, Aug/Sept, and June/July, 1998; Colorado Secretary of State Website: www.sos.state.co.us ; Real estate professionals KC Butler and Dave Kellogg.

The Hiwan Homestead Museum, at 4208 S. Timbervale Drive (off Meadow Drive), was preserved as a museum by Jefferson County Open Space in 1974. It is managed by county employees in partnership with Jefferson County Historical Society volunteers. It is open to visitors Tuesday-Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. (Sept.-May) and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (June-Aug). For more information, call 303-674-6262.

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