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    UNC Awarded Grant to Continue Restoring African American Townsite

    This new National Park Service grant will significantly contribute to ongoing restoration of Dearfield as a historic destination

    The University of Northern Colorado (UNC), on behalf of Denver’s Black American West Museum, has been awarded $743,224 for its second consecutive African American Civil Rights (AACR) grant for historic building, remodeling and restoration at the National Register of Historic Place’s and all-Black settlement, Dearfield. Anthropology Emeritus Professor Robert Brunswig, Ph.D., a long-time Dearfield restoration advocate, will be leading the project. 

    Sitting east of Greeley, Dearfield was an early 20th century African American townsite. It was founded by O. T. Jackson in 1910 and survived for two decades, supported by a 20,000-acre farm colony.

    “Dearfield and its homesteader colony were ended only by twin blows of the Dust Bowl and Depression,” said Brunswig.  “During its existence it was the center of local, state and national attention and praise from African American and non-African American communities alike, often hosting such prominent visitors as Booker T. Washington, Jr., son of Booker T. Washington, Sr., a leading proponent of Black civil rights and founder of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. This new National Park Service grant will significantly contribute to ongoing restoration of the townsite as a historic destination and a tribute to Colorado’s early African American community.” 

    Today, the townsite is the subject of a National Park Service study to recommend its potential designation as a National Historic Site and inclusion within the National Park Service System. The Black American West Museum, Greeley’s Dearfield Preservation Committee and UNC, among other partner organizations, have been active in protecting and restoring townsite buildings for more than a decade.  

    The new grant will fund the remodeling of the town’s former filling station, built in 1917, into a visitor’s center. A second building, the Jackson House, also constructed in 1917, will later be restored as a Dearfield-era house museum for future site visitors. The site’s opening in the next several years will provide opportunities for Front Range community members and museums to participate in and lead Dearfield historical and archaeological research and educational programs. 

    The National Park Service’s AACR grant program funds nationally significant historic projects from its Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).

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