We are wrapping up this week’s examination of religious architecture with Calvary Church in Golden. Built on a rise at the corner of 13th Street and Arapahoe Street, Calvary Church is one of the oldest buildings in Golden and is supposedly the oldest continuously used Episcopal church in Colorado. Construction began in late 1867 and was completed the following year.
Calvary Church was largely a product of its community. The land upon which it was constructed was donated by Golden resident and entrepreneur William A.H. Loveland, and money for its construction was donated by local citizens.
It was built using a soft, pressed brick that varies between deep orangish-red and a light brown color. Note the irregularity of the brick sizes and the ripples in the brick’s texture where the clay was hand pressed into each mold. The brick may have been locally made, as the interior floor tiles were supplied by a local pottery. However, early issues of the Rocky Mountain News lament the fact that there were few brick manufacturers in the area.
The main entrance to the church, located up a rise of stairs, has a wood door and a transom framed by a pointed Gothic arch. The arch is accented by cream-colored sandstone units with a simple projecting keystone and carved impost blocks at the base of the arch. Similar details frame the top of each window opening.
The foundation was built using a buff-colored sandstone that contained iron. Over time, several foundation stones have turned an orange or brown color from corrosion of the natural iron inclusions in the stone.
This simple building is architecturally significant when you think about the history of Golden. The area was settled in 1859, and Golden was incorporated in 1870 two years after the completion of Calvary Church. In the early 1860s, few permanent structures existed in Golden, yet by 1867 the community came together to sponsor and build this stunning little church. We are fortunate that the church is still standing to be used and admired by generations to come.