History

How Ralston Creek was Named

from the Arvada Historical Society**

On June 22, 1850, a wagon train bound for California crossed the Platte River just north of its junction with Clear Creek. After following Clear Creek west for six miles, the wagon train set up camp and Lewis Ralston dipped his gold pan in an unnamed mountain stream. He found almost $5 in gold in his first pan. John Lowery Brown, who kept a diary of the party’s journey from Georgia to California, wrote on that day. “We called this Ralston’s Creek because a man of that name found gold here.”  Ralston continued on to California, but returned to Ralston’s Creek with the Green Russell party eight years later.

**As printed in the West Arvada Life magazine, Oct. 2013

The Ralston’s Crossing Presbyterian Church

By Matthew Prythero, Archivist for the Arvada Historical Society

[X] IN THE BEGINNING

Before the church building was finished in 1911, there was no true church for the Presbyterian congregation in the large community of Ralston’s Crossing. Founded prior to 1859, Ralston’s Crossing served as a stagecoach route stopping point on its way up to the Wyoming border. Sometime in the year of 1858, a building was erected to serve as a hotel for weary travelers on their way to their destinations. This was built by an unknown man, but served as a focal point for the new community of Ralston’s Crossing. From here, the community grew and at its height, supported around 800 to 900 people. The town had its town center near the present-day intersection at 64th and Indiana. Within the town center was a grocery store, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, a post office, a school, and four to five other buildings, their purpose to the community being unknown. It had its own cemetery, which had begun prior to 1865, two mines that it supported, the Tindale and Glencoe, housed four different school buildings, and within its entire time span, was home to three different railroads. The three main different denominations sprang up into the community, the Roman Catholics, the Methodists, and finally, the Presbyterians. This community officially ended in the early 1920’s due to lack of support from outlying communities. The community namesake may have ended, but the Ralston Presbyterian Church didn’t.

 

[X] PRIOR TO THE 1910 BUILDING

At a meeting held at the Ralston’s Crossing school house, in the county of Jefferson, and the State of Colorado, members of the Ralston Presbyterian Church, on March 11, 1910, elected the following persons to starts its new church. Mr. J. A. Newcomb, one time county assessor, J. A. Albertson Jr., Alvin Stepp, Rocella Miller, and E. Maud Broad, trustees, with powers and duties similar to trustees, according to the rules and usages of such church, adopting as it’s corporate name, “The Ralston Presbyterian Church”. The purpose of this church shall be adherence to and propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in conformity to the scriptures and in fidelity to the tenet and system of government of the Presbyterian Church, signed by W. H. Schureman, secretary.

This agreement was drawn up before Louise Thompson, May 20, 1910, Notary Public and the following committee: Rev. R. E. Stone, chairman, Rev. M. A. Stone, secretary, Rev. G. R. Edmunson, D. D., Mr. George M. Eames, Mr. John C. Murray and Rev. C. K. Towell, Pastor Evangelist. This was the first organization of the newly formed church.

On November 21, 1910, a building committee drew plans to erect a church building of their owned, having previously met at the Ralston School house. The total sum of the church was $3765.58. The church was to be built at Ralston’s Crossing, the land having been donated by Joseph A. Newcomb and his wife.

Sixty-eight persons interested in their own church, donated to the building fund, and an agreement was made on December 10, 1910, between R. W. Jones of Denver, contractor and Joseph A. Newcomb, chairman, to erect a church building to be located upon the 6.8 acres at Ralston’s Crossing.

 

[ ] THE 1910 CHURCH BUILDING

The Ralston Presbyterian Church (1910-1963)

It was November 1910, when the Colorado Transcript ran the following ad on November 3, 1910:

Call For Bids

    Notice is hereby given that the board

of trustees of the Ralston Presbyterian

church will receive sealed bids for the

construction of a concrete and brick

church building up to Saturday, Nov.

12, 1910, at 2 o’clock p.m.

   Plans and specification may be seen

at the residence of J.A. Newcomb. P.

O. address, Golden, Colo., R.F.D. No.

1. Phone Ralston 1085.

   The board reserves the right to reject

any or all bids.

                        Rocella Miller

                                    Secretary

                        Golden R.F.D. No.1

This was a complete success and several weeks later, the Colorado Transcript ran a news story on the start of construction of the new church. This article read:

WORK STARTED ON HANDSOME NEW CHURCH

            The die is cast. After years of labor, or hope deferred, the good ladies of Ralston are to seem the consummation of their deepest hopes. The contract for the Presbyterian church has been 1st, the excavating done, the funds in sight, and actual work commenced on the magnificent structure on Monday of this week (December 5, 1910).

            It is proposed to dedicate the edifice on or about February 14, 1911, with impressive ceremonies conducted by high officials of the Presbyterian organization of Colorado. The cornerstone will be laid within a couple of weeks, when it is calculated to make it to a gala day for Ralston and the entire neighborhood.

            This church, which will be a credit to any community, will cost about $4,000 heated by the most approved furnace methods and wired complete for electric light, which will be supplied by the Central Colorado Power Company. The building will have a nine foot basement of cement, comfortably seating 100, which will be occupied by Enterprise Grange on a long lease. The church proper will be of pressed brick (Swift Shale Brick Company brick), have a fifteen foot ceiling, and seat about 200. It is located on a site donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Newcomb, who have been of very great assistance to the ladies of Ralston. It is three-fourths of a mile North of Ralston, one mile Southeast of Leyden and one mile South of the Tramway.

            The ladies of Ralston deserve a crown for the manner in which this work has been carried on. For years they have labored almost might and day, making frequent trip to Denver and over the surrounding country soliciting funds. In the meantime then have established a church organization, a first class Sunday school, have all bills paid, and are just now extremely happy.

 It was on January 19, 1911 that the Colorado Transcript ran the story about the laying of the beautiful granite cornerstone:

CORNER STONE OF NEW CHURCH IS PLACED

The corner stone of the Presbyterian church of Ralston, on McQuiston avenue, was places with beautiful and impressive ceremonies Sunday, January 8th.

J.A. Newcomb preside, and in his usual happy style introduced the speakers. Rev. Powell opened the exercises  with appropriate scripture reading and prayer. Rev. Schurmann gave a history of the Ladies Aid society of Ralston and its great work, which is now accomplished. The principal address was delivered by Rev. R. E. Stone. It was a masterly and scholarly effort, and was listened to with the closest attention.

            At the conclusion of the address of Rev. Stone, Mrs. Rocella Miller, president of the Ralston Aid, stepped forward and deposited in the hollow of the stone a manuscript containing a complete history of the movement to construct the first church in the community. Then followed an address by H. H. Miller, in behalf of the Aid, who in a feeling manner tendered the heartfelt thanks of the members of the society to every individual who in any way has contributed to the success of this great undertaking.

            The stone, a beautiful granite block brought from Salida, was placed in position by J.A. Newcomb, Mr. Hooper and the Rev. Stone and Powell.

            The stone was laid on the first anniversary of the Presbyterian organization in District 12.

In another article, this one being written by the Arvada Sun, wrote that both the principal address and records were placed in the stone by Mrs. H.H. Miller. At this event, it was estimated that more than 100 people had attended.

After a long wait, the church itself was finally dedicated on May 21, 1911. The Arvada Sun ran the following report on the events the following week:

RALSTON CHURCH DEDICATED

The dedicatory service at Ralston Presbyterian church was all that could be desired – an ideal day, a large and appreciative audience and good music. A most instructive and interesting sermon was delivered by Dr. Donaldson. The whole meet in was directed by Dr. Stone assisted by Rev. Evans or Park Hill church, Rev. Powell, Rev. Frelick and others.

            Mrs. Helen Updyke, in a neat speech, presented the keeps to the chairman of the board of trustees, J.A. Newcomb, who accepted the same in a few well chosen words giving the history of the movement to establish the church through its various ramifications to the present day. The cost up to date is $3,842.40; when completely furnished the cost will be about $4,500.

            At present there is no debt, but the building committee has become personally responsible for about $500, half of which was raided in about twenty minutes Sunday.

            The people of Ralston neighborhood, saint and sinner, are proud of the church, and proud of the handful of devoted women whose untiring efforts have brought about this glorious result.

The Opening of the Grange Hall

The Enterprise grange dedicated a new hall on May 17, 1911 in the basement of the Ralston Church. The third and fourth degrees were conferred upon Mrs. Emma Wilson, Misses Esther Reid and May Blanchard; and Messers Lee A. West, Edward Pearce and L.L. Wilson.

Among the first visitors were Mr. Weston of Maple Grove, Mrs. Clark, Mr. and Miss Trail of Lakewood.

At this dedication, Mss. Wilson gave a splendid recitation and short talks were made by brothers Edward Pearce, H.C. Trail, J.A. Newcomb and Weston. Mrs. E.L. Newcomb also made some appropriate remarks.

Pastors that served the church:

  • Rev. Frank E. Dametz: 1914-1916
  • Rev. Charles G. Williams: 1917-1919
  • Rev. Schureman: 1919-?
  • Clinton Reed: 1920-1931
  • William Elias Brown, Sr.: 1932-1947
  • William Charles Brown, Jr.: 1947-1949
  • Dr. Maurice D. Dametz: 1949-1958
  • Rev. John E. Klein: 1959-1960

The Music That Filled The Church

The Bell Tower

The bell in the church belfry came from a locomotive and for some years was rung with a rope pull. It was a signal to all in the community of the Sabbath Day. This bell was lost in 1963 when the church belfry was converted into a steeple.

The Choir

In 1926, a small choir was formed and in 1930 a 15-member choir sang in several churches throughout the surrounding community. From 1942 until 1949, 20 members composed the choir and in the later years of the church, only contained a 10-member choir.

The Organ

Mr. and Mrs. Delauzon Moon lived near the Ralston Presbyterian Church when it was built at 7400 Indiana St. Addie Parker, a Civil War widow, and DeLauzon Moon were married in 1869 and settled at Ralston Valley, six and one-half miles northwest of Arvada.

A telephone call to Addie’s granddaughter, Iva Moon Pearce in LaJolla, California supplied some interesting information. Iva was 10 years old when the church was dedicated in 1910. Her grandmother purchased the organ several years before on one of her excursions to look for “stones”. When asked what kind of stones, Iva said “Gravestones, or course.”

Addie traveled in an oxen-drawn covered wagon to Boulder or Golden to haul large and unusual items. It is not known when, where, or from whom the beautiful cherrrywood organ was purchased, but Addie delivered it to her home in style. It was crafted by Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont, and occupied a choice nook at the Moon residence for many years until the Ralston Presbyterian Church was completed.

The church had no musical instrument, and Addie could not imagine a church without music. The people in the Ralston area had already contributed $3,756.58 to build the church on land donated by Joseph A. Newcomb, leaving no money for musical accompaniment at the dedication. This predicament prompted Grandma Moon to donate her organ to the church. She said she would rather have her grandchildren take music lessons on a piano since the church needed an organ.

In the 1920’s the Moon organ was still being used. Mrs. Ruth Hendrickson, organist at the time, said it had a bellow on the side which she operated with her knees. The organ was used for many years and, in need of repair, was moved to the church basement when another organ was repaired and donated by Delbert Collicott.

The cherrywood organ sat unused and uncared for. Church member Esther Harkness mentioned to her husband Wayne that if they didn’t rescue the organ, there would be nothing left to save, but still it waited. After the Harkness home was built in 1969, Wayne purchased the organ and placed it in an out-of-the-way place in his basement at 14803 W. 72nd Ave.

The first organ in the Ralston Valley Church had long been forgotten and no one seemed to know what happened to it. The mystery wasn’t solved until after both Esther and Wayne Harkness had passed away. The executor of the estate called members of the Arvada Historical Society to inform them that the Harknesses had specified they wanted to donate their organ.

            Kathy Andrews, Gallery/Museum curator of the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, where the Arvada Historical Museum is located, and I went out to look at it one could wintery night. Wayne had it repaired, it was in great working condition and, of course, we were both excited and grateful to receive this treasure.

            Kathy arranged for members of the Society to more it –no small task!—and it stands secure and protected in storage at the Arvada Center. Someday it will again share its sound and beauty for all of us to enjoy, and we will remember and gratefully acknowledge the wonderful give made possible by Wayne and Esther Harkness.

TAKEN FROM THE ARAVDA HISTORIAN, “THE MYSTERY OF THE FIRST RALSTON CHURCH ORGAN” BY MARCETTA RHOADS LUTZ.

 

The Later Years As A Church (1963-1981)

When it became Ralston Valley Chapel Community Church in 1963, the belfry was transformed into a steeple, and the red brick church was painted white. The appearance of the church changed again in 1982 when it was sold to the Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Colorado. The appearance and name changed again to West Ridge Christian Church for a few years.

[ ] THE CHURCH BUILDING TODAY

The church today is owned by Randy and Cheryl Miller. They purchased the building in 1996 and used the space to house Randall’s Photography. In 2011, Randy began restoration of the old church and brought back the chapel to its original purpose. His project included restoring the interior brick back to its old red color and replacing the wood floors. The new name for the building is the Ralston’s Crossing Event Center.

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