by Richard Gardner (local historian) (edited for clarity/length)
I send greetings to Golden City Council and its newest member upon this most unique occasion! For the first time in 138 years Golden is inaugurating a new City Councilor by remote location, which was last done for the first and only other time way back in 1882.
Since Golden first began municipal government 160 years ago, this was just the 7th special election for our City officials. However, it’s hard to shake some feeling of deja vu here – like we’ve done this and I’ve given Mr. Fisher this greeting before. Why yes, this is no coincidence, for I welcomed him for the first time in a special election in 2008, and again in 2009. Mr. Fisher must either really like my speeches or he is one big glutton for punishment!
Indeed, Mr. Fisher, you were and are the 14th person voted to office here in a special election. Sorry, we don’t do like the Presidents here, you don’t count twice. If we did that we’d end up having Mayors cloned 6 times over by now! You are, however, the first person voted into office in two special elections, and you now hold all our special election records, so congratulations!
I’ve told of your esteemed special elected predecessors and they’re well worth sharing today. They include our 2nd Mayor, Daniel McCleery, who built the Golden Gate Canyon Road, and Mayor Robert Millikin, the future county commissioner who helped carve the woodwork at Calvary Episcopal Church. Others include George West, founder of the Transcript; Isaac Hardy, our first postmaster whose post office just turned 160 last month; William Sapp who had the resort at Sapp’s Grove, later known as Big Tree; State Representative, Jeffco Sheriff and Astor House owner John Albert Hoagland; downtown businessman James Thomas; Julius Schultz, founder of the Goosetown Tavern which a future Governor Hickenlooper moved to Denver; and in modern times Arthur Chen, Mayor Jacob Smith and Joe Behm.
On a somber note, you are not Golden’s first replacement Councilor to take his seat amidst a pandemic. During the great flu epidemic of 1918 City Council lost a Golden hero, Oscar Nolin, who died trying to save his brother’s life. It was the second time he’d put his life on the line trying to save others. In 1905 Nolin saved Golden High School from exploding and with it the lives of over 100 students and teachers. Because of the bans of that pandemic Councilor Nolin never received a hero’s farewell, but his graveside was attended by the members of City Council. Councilor Nolin is remembered with honor today. Taking his place was a worthy successor, Frederick B. Robinson, a prominent downtown bookstore merchant, who in 1918 and 75 years ago this September fired his mini cannon on Washington Avenue in joyful celebration of the ends of both World Wars!
It is remarkably pleasing for me to note today that the one Councilor Fisher takes the place of during a pandemic is alive and well and for a much more joyful occasion, she has been promoted to Mayor by the voters. Our Mayor during the pandemic of 1918 was Dr. Dennis Garvin, and now today we have another medical professional joining Council. Mayor Garvin helped save hundreds of lives and I hope his inspiring story serves all of you well today!
Folks might think today is the first time ever a Golden City Councilor has been inaugurated to office outside the halls of our government, yet believe it or not this is not true. You now have something uniquely in common with your first special elected predecessor, Andrew Holmes, for he was Golden’s first and until now only to be inaugurated remotely as well! Way back on July 25, 1882, Holmes was elected to City Council, but he did not show up in person to take his seat. He submitted his oath of office in writing. So yes, when you do this remotely you do very much count! Why Councilor Holmes did not show up to do so in person remains a mystery to this day, and Councilor Fisher, you have now accomplished a feat that’s not been done in 138 years!
What were things like here the last time this happened? First of all I’ll show you a special gift, this illustration of Golden as it appeared in 1882. If you look closely you can see landmarks still with us today, along with mines, mills, smelters, railroads, and our river as it appeared then.
Down below is a key telling what several of our key landmarks are. In the foreground you see what Goosetown looked like, including the Roundhouse which still has a foundation wall along the north side of the railroad tracks, if you know where to look for it. Among the buildings on the lands the City just acquired there is the home of Councilor Holmes himself, on Archer Street just back of today’s Masonic Temple. So now our newest Councilor can decide what should stand upon the place of his esteemed predecessor. Now the rest of Council better listen to what Councilor Fisher has to say; most of your land is after all within Bush & Fisher’s Addition.
In 1882 Golden did not have electricity, let alone computers like you’re using to meet today. But Councilors could talk by telephone. If it had wanted to Council could even conference call from multiple locations and the public could listen in. It was called a party line! Though if you’re the audience you better keep your own party quiet because everyone else on the line can hear every word you have said. Back in 1882 you could celebrate your election by buying drinks at the Buffalo Rose, er, Orchestrion Hall. You could buy hardware at Meyers, er, Sarell Hardware. If you’ve been locked up and your hair’s gotten way too long you can just go to the Metropolitan but ask for Dick the Barber. If you’d like to go to the post office you’d need to go in at the Golden Diner’s corner, but the very same door of Calvary Church would greet you all the same. City Hall was just a rental then, though the City was planning to build a nice new one next to the Astor House. You could eat dinner right next door there, if you can get in the door to the dining room guarded by Seth Lake. He’s got to; his new cook’s popular and people have overrun him to get in there!
You are the 55th of now 56 Councilors of Ward 4, a political division of our city that has existed for 144 years. You return to represent the legacy of those who have served before you. The first to specifically serve your Ward was also special elected, George H. Kimball, a prominent builder in the city of Golden. You can see his work on the Rock Flour Mill Warehouse at 8th and Cheyenne today.
Yes you can go home again; you are our first Councilor to return after absence in 9 years, since Marcie Miller, and our first to return to the same office in 37 years since our longtime barber Frank Leek in 1983. And Ward 4 is a home to return to; you’re the 7th Councilor to come back here! Your predecessors include Swedish immigrant businessman Nels Seaver, who returned twice and whose beautiful home you can see at the southeast corner of 9th and Arapahoe; Samuel Eldridge, a skilled carpenter whose work you can see in the 12th Street Historic District and was Captain of the USS Cactus; businessman Alfred Olson, who returned 3 times; businessman John H. Cooper; bookstore owner Fred Richards; businessman Charles Matthews, and now William Fisher.
It’s been a little while since your ward showed sequels, however; 81 years, since 1939. It was a challenging economic time then during the Great Depression, and a challenging time now, but Councilor Matthews and the others overcame theirs, and you will too. Who knows what else the premiere of Fisher Returns will bring? It’s time to find out!