Location of Adams County within Colorado ADAMS COUNTY, COLORADO The COGenWeb Project

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East 124th Avenue and Henderson Road
(Now: Adams County Fairgrounds)

For a long time Adams County has been one of the leading Colorado counties for providing social services.  Until 1933, the only provision made for the care of elderly poor people in the state was the "Poor Farm."  Regardless of its name then, we like to refer to it as the "Denver Farm."  Although the residents were poor and unable to provide for themselves, the farm itself was quite capable of the caring and feeding of its patients.

When they first moved there, the walls were ugly dark brown and green, the floors were splintered, there were no window shades, no sheets for the men’s beds, and no pillow cases.  Almost all expectations were given up until Elspeth Rattle, a social worker from the welfare department visited the farm in hopes of finding a place for her patients to live.  She was impressed and offered improvements if they would hold out a while longer.  In the course of two months, Mr. and Mrs. Lascelles received everything they asked for including new farm machinery.  The only equipment the farm had was an old plow and two aged fire horses who took off in a gallop as the dinner bell rang, thinking there was a fire.


East 124th Avenue and Henderson Road was the site of the McCool Ranch until Arapahoe County purchased it as the site of the new poor farm in 1898 for $30,000.  The buildings were completed in March, 1899.  The inadequate facilities were criticized as being truly a "poor" farm, as there was only one building in which indigent men were put to care for themselves.

Arapahoe County was divided in November, 1902, into Adams, Denver, and Arapahoe counties.  Although, the "Poor Farm" was located in the newly organized Adams County, the county of Denver had control of it.

In later years, the Denver General Hospital planned to enlarge the farm by adding several buildings and sending out their head nurse, Kate Dodge, with several patients.

Although the farm was looking better, there was still much room for improvement.  Harold R. (Duke) Lascelles was the last superintendent of the Denver Farm.  He was a professor of agriculture at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.  He, his second wife, Miss Edna MacKibben, and his two children moved to the farm in 1931.


The farm was renown for its large herd of Holstein dairy cows which Lascelles raised.  It was considered the top dairy herd of the state and took many prizes.  The farm not only raised cattle but sheep and a number of crops.  They had more than enough lamb to eat so sold the remaining sheep in return for wool blankets for the patients.

Mr. and Mrs. Lascelles were kind enough to take in several young men discharged from the army.  They were dumped in Denver with no place to go except the local saloons.  They were brought to the farm to work and in return received plenty of food, guidance, and love from the Lascelles.

In 1952, during Mayor Quigg Newton’s second term in office (1947—1955) he chose to close down the Denver Farm and ordered all patients be removed in the space of three days.  All of the residents, 103 women and over twice that number of men, were scattered throughout Denver in various nursing homes.  Soon after this, the Lascelles sought out where the patients were living.  They particularly looked for Olney, of whom they were especially fond.  He was paralyzed from the neck down and was certainly not capable of caring for himself.


They finally found Olney lonely and heart-broken in a run-down rooming house.  The Lascelles, who had always loved their patients, promised to return for him after they had bought a bed for their spare room.  When the Lascelles came back for him, they found him dead, but felt he died with a happy thought that someone cared for him.

Mayor Newton had planned to use the area for a Denver country club, but it fell through after the newspapers criticized him for moving the patients.  Many of the buildings stood empty for several years while others were leased out by the City of Denver.  In April, 1960, Adams County purchased the 356 acres for $176,500.  It developed into a regional park and fairgrounds including an 18 hole golf course.

Once again the area is providing a much needed service to the residents of the community

. Acknowledgments
Mrs. Edna Lascelles
Elspeth Rattle

Bright Federal Savings and Loan Association:
Brighton, Colorado; "Adams County" volume II, by
Albin Wagner, copyright 1977. "Looking Back," by Carl Dorr.


Denver Farm (aka Poor Farm), Adams County, CO



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I do not live in Colorado so I am unable to help with your personal research questions. All the information I know about Adams  County is posted promptly on this site. Please visit the "Research Resources" section of this site. I would suggest that if you don't find the information your looking for here, that you join the email list and post your question on the query board. The more places you ask the question, the better your chances of getting an answer.


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This Page Was Last Updated On: Sunday, 18-Sep-2011 16:45:38 MDT