University Park Elementary School was once known as “the little red brick schoolhouse” to neighborhood residents.
John Babcock, a town trustee and legislator, owned several acres in University Park. In the 1890s, Babcock donated a portion of his estate to the school and served as the school’s benefactor for more than 15 years. The school was built in 1893 to serve the children of the University of Denver’s faculty and staff. The original building was a red brick structure that contained four classrooms and a lunchroom.
After the University of Denver moved from downtown to its current location, the population of the neighborhood grew steadily. At the time, the University purchased a large amount of land in the area and sold lots to individuals for $150 each. University Park’s first PTA was organized in 1914 and was seventeen members strong.
In 1924, the school added a Spanish-style expansion designed by architect Lester Ernest Varian, who also designed the Phipps mansion. The building was considered cutting edge architecture as it was equipped with five classrooms, a teachers’ room, lockers, a shower room, a clinic, and fire-proof corridors. During that same year, the school became the training school for student teachers from the university.
In the 1940s, the school could no longer handle the large numbers of student teachers and returned exclusively to educating of the area’s children. By 1948, the school ran double sessions to cope with over-crowding. The following year, the building was expanded to include an auditorium, eighteen classrooms, two kindergarten rooms, a new room for teachers, a cafeteria, PTA kitchen, visual aid room, and library.