A Brief History of Parfet Park

Parfet Park was originally the site of one of Golden’s first buildings, the Boston Company. In subsequent years it held stores, houses, and a church. For a number of years, into the early 1920s, it served as the town dump.

George W. Parfet prospered by developing clay mines in the Golden area. He was a community benefactor, serving on the school board and city council and helping with several civic improvements. He was the first president of the Golden Kiwanis Club and was serving in that role when he died in 1924.

The Kiwanis Club decided to develop a park in his honor. They chose the ground along Clear Creek, east of Washington Avenue. At the time, that land was still a dump, so a significant clean-up was required. Some of the trash was removed, while some was shoved over to the east side of the park, where it remained for a few more years. The park was dedicated in 1929.

Shared Ownership
The building across 10th Street, now the Mountaineering Center, was Golden High School from 1924-1956, and later Golden Junior High from 1956-1988. Part of the current Parfet Park belonged to the City and part to the school. In 1931, the school turned the remaining city dump in the southeast corner of the property into clay tennis courts. The Transcript noted that this was “made land,” formerly part of the bed of Clear Creek.

Much-Used Park
For a number of years, Parfet was Golden’s only downtown park. Formal and informal summer camps were conducted there beginning in 1935. Softball, football, and tennis were played in the park. Scout troops often met there. Frequent band concerts were held in the park, and many organizations used it for picnics and pot lucks. The Kiwanis Club and downtown merchants began hosting Easter Egg Hunts in 1953.

Council approved a plan to build restrooms in the park in 1945, but it took until 1955 before they were built, with labor provided by the Golden Lions Club. Thereafter, the restrooms were severely vandalized several times, with plumbing appliances pulled out of the walls. (“Hoodlums” also smashed picnic tables and threw them in the creek.)

I used an old map and a Google satellite view to trace the course of the mill race.
Click to enlarge.

The Mill Race
Parfet Park was bisected by a mill race (a ditch) for many years. The water running through the mill race powered the grinding operations at the Golden Mill. It was an attractive nuisance, and reportedly several children drowned in the water. The final one was a 19 month old boy in 1949. In 1952, the city negotiated a deal with the Peery family, who owned the mill. It paid them $12,500 for the water rights so they could close the ditch. The ditch was filled in 1954. According to the Avenue Flashes column, Jesse Quaintance dug the ditch to power his mill in the 1870s and his great-grandson, Arthur Lowther (the City Manager) filled it in 80 years later.

Problems of Shared Ownership
Ownership and maintenance of the park was an ongoing subject of dispute between the city and the school district, as each owned part of the property. The school district said the city didn’t let them develop the property as a playground or athletic field. The city said the school maintained the property very badly, letting it go to weeds. Gym teachers had their students run laps around the perimeter of the park, leaving bare dirt all around the edges. One gym teacher cut down a tree to make more room for his classes. Issues over maintenance continued for many years, and finally in 1972 the school district deeded the land to the city.

This history was compiled by reading historic Colorado Transcripts and Golden Transcripts. Many thanks to the Golden History Museum for putting the Transcripts online, and many thanks to the Golden Transcript for documenting our history since 1866!

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