Bemis’ grandsons visit for house dedication

Posted 6/7/10

A 3-foot-wide red ribbon encircled the Bemis House at 5890 S. Bemis Street, a giant gift to Ed Bemis’ community, which, with exterior restoration …

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Bemis’ grandsons visit for house dedication


A 3-foot-wide red ribbon encircled the Bemis House at 5890 S. Bemis Street, a giant gift to Ed Bemis’ community, which, with exterior restoration completed, was presented by the City of Littleton, unveiling a landmark designation plaque to the right of the front door.

A crowd gathered under a red city tent June 4 to celebrate the event and the house, which is occupied by the nonprofit Western Welcome Week Inc., an organization Bemis helped start.

Bemis’ will deeded the house, bordering Sterne Park, to the city, with the instruction that it remain part of the park.

Edwin Bemis’ visiting grandsons Edwin Bemis DeBus and David Waring DeBus were invited to share memories of their astonishingly energetic grandfather, whom they called Daddy Ed.

Mayor Doug Clark opened with a thumbnail sketch of historic preservation in Littleton, beginning with the 1972 passage of a historic preservation code, followed by establishment of the Second Century Fund in 1989 (just prior to the city’s 1990 Centennial). In 1990, voters approved gambling in three historic cities and set up a preservation fund with a portion of the resulting taxes. In 1993, the Historic Preservation Board was created. There are 25 local landmarks, two local historic districts and one national district. The Bemis house, built in 1921, was Edwin Bemis’ home until his death in 1978. It was restored with a $198,483 grant from the State Historical Fund and $93,904 from the city.

Colorado Historical Fund Director Steve Turner said the fund had aided 46 projects in Arapahoe County and neatly summed up reasons to engage in preservation:

A sense of place that connects us to the community

Sustainability — recycle an entire building, versus demolition

Sense of memory — people return to their roots. “By preserving this house, people will learn about Bemis, and maybe think: ’I’m not doing enough for my community,’” Turner concluded.

Littleton native Edwin Bemis started work at the Independent at age 11 and eventually bought it. He also served as town treasurer, deputy sheriff, historical society founder and Littleton Rotary founder. Instrumental in starting the Colorado Press Association, he was also a full professor at CU, despite not graduating from college, said his grandson, David Waring DeBus, who also delivered greetings and regrets from sister Maya DeBus, another of the six grandchildren who loved to visit in the summers.

Grandson Edwin Bemis DeBus added memories of the Sunday morning breakfasts Bemis hosted, inviting famous speakers from CU, DU and elsewhere. DeBus’ eyes filled with tears briefly, recalling his compassionate grandfather as he assisted a fellow nursing home resident following his stroke. He could barely walk, but helped a woman with even more problems to get her food to the table.

The brothers were given a green City of Littleton Bemis Street sign, autographed on the back by city staff and citizens.


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