Summer homes brought friends, fun to Evergreen

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By Hank Alderfer

Evergreen would blossom every spring shortly after the end of the school year with the opening of the summer homes that had been drained and shuttered into hibernation for the winter. Tire tracks, other than those of the Mountain Protection Association, along with the glow of porch lights, would announce the arrival of family or guests — friends who long ago came for a summer visit and have stayed for generations.

Since it is human nature to share good deals with good friends, it is not surprising that some of the owners of the area’s summer places came to town in groups or colonies. One such circle of friends is a group of six families from Council Bluffs, Iowa, who have brought me a lifetime of enjoyable dinner parties and employment.

Perhaps Evergreen’s first connection with the river towns of Council Bluffs and Omaha, Neb., was Christopher Jensen, an architect whose designs, combined with the craftsmanship of Jock Spence, created Wind-in-Woven, a summer home for Leonard Everett and Louise Elbert. Built on the Evans/Elbert Ranch, the structure was completed by 1909 and was placed on the Historic Register in 1992. I do not know what happened to Mr. Jensen after his stay of five years building for the Everetts, or if he knew a young eye doctor, Abbott Dean, and his wife, Elizabeth.

The Deans were opening a practice and buying a house in Council Bluffs in the early 1930s while about the same time they were looking for a summer home in Evergreen. Along with friends from Colorado Springs, Helena and Don Barnes, they invested in a log cabin south of the Ladies of the Rockies Church Camp. Following World War II, the Deans purchased the 320-acre homestead of Washington Graham, which they named “Buckshot.” Graham had received the patent on his two parcels in 1890. Between the two World Wars, Bella Martin had operated a sawmill in the northwest corner of the property. Bella and her husband, John, had earlier homesteaded and logged in the upper Yankee Creek Basin

In 1944 Liz wrote her third and last novel, called “A Murder a Mile High.” The mysteries starred Emma Marsh, and the last book featured Central City. Liz also became a Colorado cattleman about this time, when Dad ran a few head of Liz’s with our registered Black Angus in trade of a couple of months of grazing on Buckshot pasture. It was a handshake deal that lasted for thee decades. In addition we could time a salt delivery with one of the Deans educating dinner parties.

Liz and Ab loved to share Buckshot, with its buffalo blankets and hidden valleys, with many returning guests who in turn have been charmed by its secret glades. 

Dr. Jack Treynor and his wife, Alice, joined the Deans, when they bought the southwest corner of Buckshot in 1954. Naming their site “High Meadows,” the Treynors asked my father to build their mountain home. It was the craftsmanship and common sense shown in this project that convinced me, his first-grader of a son, that pop knew what he was doing.

Hank Alderfer, a local resident, was born and raised on a ranch in Buffalo Park. He served on the boards of the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District and is a founder of the Mountain Area Land Trust.