Pioneering local couple at center of events

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

The Church of the Transfiguration and the Hiwan Homestead Museum on Sunday will celebrate one of Evergreen’s first families — Charles and Jo Douglas.

The couple have historical significance to both the church and the museum: Charles Winfred Douglas contributed significantly to the music and the worship of the Episcopal Church on a local and an international level, and after he and Dr. Josepha Williams were married in 1896, they lived at Camp Neosho, now the Hiwan Homestead Museum.

To commemorate his ordination and the couple’s contributions to both the church and Evergreen, the church will hold a special service at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, followed by tours of the historic buildings on the church grounds. In addition, Hiwan Homestead Museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is invited.

Shelley Black, a member of the Church of the Transfiguration who has been researching the Douglases, called Charles Winfred Douglas a Renaissance man. He was known by his church title, Canon Winfred Douglas.

According to her research, the couple hired carpenter Jock Spence — another well-known figure in Evergreen history — to remodel the Stewart Hotel to become what is now the church on the east end of downtown Evergreen. Charles was ordained a priest at the Mission of the Transfiguration, now the Church of the Transfiguration, on Aug. 6, 1899.

The couple helped establish the first library in Evergreen and conducted summer choir camps. Charles established a music school in Evergreen in 1907, and it evolved to become the Evergreen Conference, a nationally renowned gathering of leaders in theology, worship and music.

The couple were world travelers, and they loved and collected Native American art, which is part of the Native American collection at the Denver Art Museum.

With regard to the Episcopal Church, Charles wrote and arranged church music that still appears in hymnals today. As a musician and composer, Douglas was interested in the Russian style of singing without musical accompaniment, and in 1920 he collaborated with composer Sergei Rachmaninoff to create an English edition of Rachmaninoff’s Songs of the Church, Opus 37.

For more information on the service and tours, contact Church of the Transfiguration at 303-674-4904.