On the far southwestern edge of Denver sit the neighborhoods of Harvey Park and Harvey Park South.

They stretch between South Federal Boulevard to the east, South Sheridan Boulevard to the west, West Jewell Avenue to the north and U.S. 285 to the south.

The area is most well-known for its homes. The streets are filled with almost exclusively mid-century modern architecture.

And the people who live there are a close community of people who appreciate it. People who want to preserve Harvey Park’s character and ensure the homes that have made it Denver’s most famous ‘mid-mod’ gem survive for years to come.

Follow along on our photo tour of Harvey Park, this Friday on Instagram.

Loretto Heights

In 1891, the sisters of Loretto founded the Loretto Heights Academy, a Catholic elementary and secondary school for girls at the edge of what would eventually become Harvey Park.

Women walk with books at Loretto Heights Colleges in Denver. (Photo: Denver Public Library)

The school added college classes in 1918 and a teacher education program in 1926.

During WWI the campus was used as a training center for women. There, students learned how to roll bandages, create surgical dressings, knit, cook and more.

Women pose between two rows of tents at the Loretto Heights College service camp, a WWI training center for women (Photo: Denver Public Library)

Loretto continued to serve as a Catholic school for girls until 1948 when the elementary and secondary school programs were phased out. The Loretto Heights College was now the only four-year college for women in the region.

The campus was expanded from the original 140 acres to 160 acres, and a nursing program was added.

Loretto Heights would continue to expand and eventually began admitting both men and women. In 1988, many of the programs were transferred to Regis University and the campus became a nondenominational liberal arts school.

The building of a neighborhood

When building began in the Harvey Park area in the 1950s, what was undeveloped land became a neighborhood almost overnight.

According to the Denver Post, about 4,000 homes were built in less than three years.

Many of these were mid-century modern tract homes: developments with model homes in a few different designs that homeowners could buy replicas of, in a few different color schemes and sizes.

For example, The Hutchinson Homes Company built nearly 1,000 of their Century 970, Century 1142 and Century 1255 models in the 1950s. Ads from the time show the base models priced from $12,450 for a two-bedroom home to $15,450 for a three-bedroom with a double garage.

However, the homes the area was most known for were those designed by architect Cliff May. The neighborhood still has dozens by the noted California architect, an extreme rarity in Colorado.

May is known for first coming up with the California ranch-style home design, known as the suburban “dream home” in post-war America.

The models for May developments in Harvey Park were listed for between $12,750 and $16,750, with the largest home having four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

A renaissance

In recent years, the popularity of Harvey Park is quietly exploding once again.

While there are newly constructed homes, the neighborhood is still characterized by the brick, ranch-style homes of the 50s and 60s. It’s that design, plus the outdoor space that often accompanies these homes, that has attracted many newcomers to the neighborhood.

Homes in Harvey Park

Those wanting unique, historically significant architecture at a reasonable price have been able to find it in Harvey Park. But as more have discovered this, the prices have started to increase.

Houses in Harvey Park now cost about $350,000, according to real estate website Trulia.com.

Along with the steady influx of those moving in, many of the original homeowners also remain in the neighborhood.

Together, those who have been there for decades and those who moved in after falling in love with the homes seem to share a common appreciation and passion for preserving the mid-century modern feel of Harvey Park.

Cliff May home

Each year, the Harvey Park Improvement Association hosts a summer festival, puts out a seasonal newsletter and in the past, has hosted a home tour of the several of the May homes in the neighborhood.

Some in the neighborhood are also looking at getting either a historic designation or historic conservation overlay for either the neighborhood or the May homes within it.

Development in Harvey Park

The 70-acre Colorado Heights University campus made headlines recently after the university closed in 2017. Neighbors have expressed concern over whether it will be torn down and what, if anything, will be built there. In November, Oakland, California-based Catellus Development Corp. said it will buy the campus from the owner, Japan-based Teikyo Group. Plans for the development have not yet been announced.

Though most of the neighborhood is residential, there are plenty of businesses along the main thoroughfares of Federal and Sheridan.

Among the Harvey Park neighborhood favorites are family-owned Jaimes Mexican Restaurant (1910 S. Depew St.); quaint diner Rosemary Cafe (2133 S. Sheridan Blvd.); and Chinese staple New Happy Restaurant (3100 S. Sheridan Blvd.).

Taqueria El Gallito (2125 S. Sheridan Blvd.) is another great spot to gobble down some Mexican food and San Antonio Fresh Mexican Bakery (2007 S. Federal Blvd.) is a strip-mall spot that dishes out cookies, cakes and other baked goods.

Baked goods at the San Antonio Fresh Mexican Bakery

The main shopping area in Harvey Park South is Bear Valley at the northeast corner of Sheridan and U.S. 285. Besides King Soopers and Home Depot, there's a Goodwill, IHOP and more.

For those wanting to spend time outdoors, Harvey Park also has significant open space. The park the neighborhood is named after has two lakes, a recreation center, a playground and sports facilities.

Harvey Park lake

There are also several other pocket parks, trails and another lake scattered throughout the area.

Although not directly within the neighborhood, Bear Creek Park is easily accessible and regularly used by residents. The large park has several trails - including the Bear Creek Trail which follows the water 9.1 miles to Morrison - playgrounds, ball fields and more.