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The Princeton of the West

Around 1890 a New Yorker, Henry T. Mayham, convinced the Denver Presbytery to build a Presbyterian University on land that he owned on Crown Point, the highest point in what was then Arapaho County.

Architect E.B. Gregory drew up plans for the main building and the cornerstone was laid in 1891. However, funds were scarce in the years prior to the depression of 1893, and construction did not begin as anticipated.

Mayham persuaded his friend Stanford White, a New York architect, to redesign the main building. White's plans called for a three-story structure to be built from red sandstone quarried in Colorado's Red Rocks region.

Mayham continued to solicit funds for the project in the east as well as in Colorado. Maxcy Tabor, son of Augusta and H.A.W. Tabor, contributed $106, 060 from his mother's estate to the college. Another $100,000 endowment came from an unidentified eastern woman with the stipulation that the money only be used for a Presbyterian School patterned after Princeton University.

The school was incorporated as Westminster University of Colorado and, according to its founders, was to be the "Princeton of the West." Classes began at the Crown Point location in September of 1908 with one year's tuition costing $50. In 1915 the board of trustees decided to change the coed University to an all-male school. In 1917 all of the students went to fight in World War I and the college had to close its doors.

The school was sold to the Pillar of Fire Church in 1920. The Church established an Elementary School, High School, Junior College and Bible Seminary during the following decade. In 1925 the name was changed to Belleview College and Preparatory School. The Belleview facility is still owned and operated by the Pillar of Fire Church. The large red sandstone building still stands on Crown Point and can be seen from most of the Denver metro area, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1911, Harris voted to incorporate as a city. At that time, the name was changed from Harris to Westminster, in honor of Westminster University.

Location: 3455 West 83rd Ave.

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