Playground for the Young at Heart: A History of Windsor Gardens By Leslie Krupa
"It is not our intention to retire our residents into limbo," Windsor Gardens developer Werner Livingston assured prospective buyers in 1962, "but to encourage and give them an opportunity to develop even greater interest in community affairs." The desire to create a unique and lively community guided Livingston and his partner Howard Farkas when they envisioned Windsor Gardens, and continues to form the foundation of what defines Windsor Gardens fifty years later. The roots of Windsor Gardens go back much farther than five decades, however. From farmland to influential Denver community, Windsor Gardens also mirrors larger social, architectural, and urban changes that defined much of the twentieth century. Residents rightfully take pride in the longevity and spirited quality of life that Windsor Gardens provides, and it would do a disservice to overlook the events and context that fostered this lively and important community.
"Cowtown" and Windsor Dairy
With the promise of gold and opportunity, optimistic settlers founded Denver where the South Platte River and Cherry Creek met (now Confluence Park) in November, 1858. As Denver grew, so did the demand for supplies and trade routes. The Smoky Hill and Cherokee Trails followed old Indian paths and routes travelers took passing through to the California gold fields. By the 1860s they became important arteries to a growing Denver. Stage stops such as the still-standing Four Mile House, built in 1859 near Cherry Creek, sprouted up, and in the decades that followed the area rapidly became known for its dairies, even earning the nickname "Cowtown."
Anyone who has resided in Denver for a period of time knows the dry climate and lack of natural water sources presents a large obstacle to irrigation. However, Cherry Creek provided a suitable solution, luring farmers to its banks and providing water to many farms and dairies over time. Farmers could further cultivate dairy land when the Northern Colorado Irrigation Company opened the High Line Canal through the area in1883. By the mid-1880s, settlers had split the land now Glendale, Leetsdale, and Windsor Gardens into several subdivided farms, most notably Mary Cawker's Jersey Subdivision and Levi Booth's Maple Grove Farm Dairy. As Denver grew, so did this small community that supplied the growing metropolis with food. In 1884, the Maple Grove School was opened at what would become the intersection of Leetsdale and Holly, families settled on large parcels of homesteaded land, and dairy businesses soon traded equipment and laborers with one another.
The birth of the Windsor Farm, the land where Windsor Gardens now exists, arguably began in 1880 when the majestic Windsor Hotel opened at Eighteenth and Larimer in downtown Denver. Charles L. Hall and the infamous Horace A. Tabor owned the hotel "known from coast to coast." Tabor hired luxury hotelier Bill Bush to manage the hotel and his Tabor Grand Opera House in Denver. Caught in the middle of Tabor's scandalous divorce and a messy court battle over his salary, Bush ceased managing the Opera House in 1883, but continued ties to the Windsor Hotel. In a perplexing twist, Bush then aligned himself with his interim replacement, Willard S. Morse. The men jointly purchased land suitable for farming, presumably to supply the Windsor Hotel.
At this time, the federal government began passing several acts that were favorable to railroad growth, particularly in the West. Railroad companies were allowed to acquire land of interest for future possible development. In May of 1883 the Union Pacific Railroad, operating under the Platte Land Company, purchased land where Windsor Gardens now stands. When the High Line Canal was completed later that year the land value increased immensely. Realizing the profit, the Platte Land Company sold hundreds of acres of land to Bill Bush and William Morse in 1885. They created the Windsor Dairy Company and the Windsor Land and Investment Company with the purpose of "buying, selling real estate...bonds...securities, constructing buildings, carrying on business of hotel keeping...farming." At the end of the year, Bush and Morse sold the farm from their individual account to their Windsor Land and Investment Company for $152,500, and their dairy operation was in full swing.
In 1894, The Windsor Land and Investment Company sold Windsor Farm to Frank C. Young, who took a hands-off approach to the endeavor despite owning the land until he died in 1919. The most involved figure during this time became businessman Hugh (H.) Brown Cannon and his partner Mike Penrose. Cannon and Penrose rented the land from Young for their Windsor Farm Dairy business--Cannon became state dairy commissioner not long after, and while he managed the business, Penrose oversaw the actual operation. In 1900, they merged their creamery with two other large operations, becoming the Windsor, Bancroft, and London Dairies, their creamery located in a still-standing building at Seventeenth and Blake downtown.
The Windsor, Bancroft, and London Dairies became well known for its "famous excellence of its products." Journalist Pasquale Marranzino aptly describes how ubiquitous their milk was: "Most of the babies of my time in Denver were weaned to Windsor Farm milk." Sometime shortly after the consolidation, Cannon moved operations north, primarily to where Stapleton airport was later built. Cannon sold his operation in 1925 to National Dairy Products Company/Meadow Gold, but he remained as a manager there.
The Windsor Farm, abandoned by Cannon operations when they moved north, changed owners several times after Frank Young died in 1919, until the Stephen Knight Investment Company finally took ownership for nearly 30 years. The primary constant was long-time tenant farmers Jim and Alice Chambers, and about 20 other men who worked and lived on the farm. In 1928, the Windsor Dairy operation moved back to their old site near Alameda and Dayton because Denver Airfield (later Stapleton Airport) was slated to open the following year. Similarly, in the late 1930s the federal government purchased part of the Windsor Farm to use for Lowry Airfield (Lowry Air Force Base), re-routing Alameda a bit south, near the current entrance to Windsor Gardens.
In the late 1940s, Windsor Farm changed hands numerous times again, before Valdermar (Walter) Andersen, a Danish immigrant farmer, bought the farm and the water rights to the High Line Canal in 1948. Anderson's smart business sense made him realize that milk maintained its value no matter what, and the Andersens were the last family to live on and cultivate the land before it became Windsor Gardens. Patricia Fletcher, a local author who grew up on the farm, reminisces in her book The Historic Windsor Farm about frequent hayrides, dips in Windsor Lake that required entry through Fairmount Cemetery, and about the Chamber's old house burning down in 1949. This house originally could be approached along an Elm-lined avenue from Alameda, most likely following the tree-lined entrance to Windsor Gardens today.
Early Active Adult Communities
Windsor Gardens can take pride in being the first active adult community in Colorado, but residents may not realize that it was one of the earliest condominium complexes as well. While both are common now, condos and retirement communities were unheard of prior to the 1950s, but their roots go back much farther than that. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, wealthy retirees flocked to seasonal tourist spots, particularly in pleasurable destinations that promised rejuvenation or escape from crowded cities. However, during the first half of the twentieth century, massive economic and social changes began to influence the wider housing market and create demands where none existed before.
James C. Riley points out that up until only about 100 years ago, "more people died in infancy than at any other age." Due to major improvements made in nutrition, housing, sanitation, and clothing in the nineteenth century, combined with twentieth century economic equality, improved public health, and advanced biomedicine average life expectancy has increased a whopping 30 years since 1900. These changes most affected the lower classes, creating a larger middle class that was living longer than any generation before. Labor laws and legislation such as Social Security further limited the length and amount of time people actually spent working-retirement pensions eased the burden on elderly people forced to provide for themselves. The combination of increased income, more leisure time, increased life span, and better health meant the average length of retirement has increased five times since 1900. Retirement, a foreign concept to most people at the end of the nineteenth century, became a real option within only a few decades.
At the same time population demographics were changing so was the makeup of America's urban centers. The convenience of the automobile made it easier for people to travel longer distances-urban planners and developers certainly had their work cut out for them after World War II, when suburban enclaves began to spring up around every city. From a sociological perspective, this is when the "American Dream" was refined-"The practices and beliefs followed in the post-war decades have become established as central 'American Values': getting married...having kids...inventing the suburbs."
In the American West, the emergence of cities, transportation, and rising population meant something very different than in other parts of the country. As John Findlay points out in his excellent book Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940, population growth was "the most distinguishing social feature" of the American West. Growth in this region exceeded the national average every decade in the twentieth century, and optimistic Americans saw "new" Western cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Denver as blank slates and malleable templates for their hopes and dreams. Developers also recognized the opportunity for community experimentation and creativity in the West, particularly because it offered more geographic space than anywhere else. Western urban developers began to influence the rest of the country with their architecture and planned communities.
The first notable community to officially address the "growing financial independence" and "growing life spans" of Americans was Ben Schleifer's Youngtown, developed in 1954 outside of Phoenix. In the early 1950s, communities marketed toward retirees began to pop up in Florida, but Youngtown was the first to employ age restrictions. Despite Schleifer's desire for Youngtown to be a place where elderly residents could "stay active, live their own lives, and not lose their identity," it ultimately failed. Zoning ordinances did not exist at the time, so age enforcement was left up to homeowners. Additionally, facilities and roads were poorly planned out, and the emphasis of autonomy gradually allowed the community to simply blend into the surrounding area.
The demise of Youngtown led to the birth of perhaps the most famous, largest, and influential age-restricted community in the country-Sun City. Developed by the venerable Del Webb, Sun City was envisioned with the view that the elderly should engage in their own community-through governance, activities, and social constructs. In most ways, Sun City was the prototype for Windsor Gardens and similar communities throughout the country. Webb was a self-made, wealthy developer who built up his massive construction company, DEVCO, primarily by working on public sector jobs after World War II. By the early 1950s, Webb was building some of the first large-scale housing developments in the country. Webb was a popular, entertaining figure who hired people who viewed urban development as a fluid idea rather than a stagnant template. After conducting rigorous demographic research, Webb built Sun City in 1960 with the following principles:
1) Offer an active lifestyle for aging adults
2) Reliable, involved developers
3) To ensure trust, building amenities before sales
4) Surround residences with easily accessible amenities
5) Intensive marketing toward middle to upper middle class
Webb's vision worked-100,000 attended the opening day event on January 1, 1960. Sun City generated$2.5 million in sales the first weekend, and Time Magazine put Del Webb on their cover. DEVCO CEO John Meeker said, "It was as if Webb had unlocked the door to the mint...management immediately began thinking of taking the concept nationwide." Webb discovered aging Americans were hungry for engaging communities where they truly felt sheltered from ridicule, idleness, and isolation. He offered an affordable community that catered specifically to those requisites.
The Birth of Windsor Gardens
After the early success of Sun City, similar communities appeared all over the country, but particularly in the West. Developer Ross Cortese built Leisure World on both coasts, Webb himself built Sun City West and several more developments over the years. The success of these "active retirement communities" piqued the interest of Denver developers Werner Livingston and Howard Farkas. Livingston, a German immigrant who had moved to Denver in 1948, had started a real estate business and eventually began building custom homes. He hired Howard Farkas, a University of Denver graduate, to be his accountant. Together they made a formidable team-Livingston was older and had a keen eye for housing and population trends, and Farkas had the vigorous energy for taking on several projects and investments.
In 1959, Livingston became impressed by new surveys that showed one third of the U.S. population was over 55 and had free time on their hands. Livingston and Farkas realized they could offer the elderly an age-restricted community along the lines of Sun City, but broaden the selling points by providing individual units close to the city-- more specifically, condominiums. Condominiums did not become popular until the late 1960s, but Livingston and Farkas realized their advantage early on because they were maintenance-free, and owners could still build equity. As Farkas later recalled, "What we came up with was the fact that around the age of 50, people had their children out of school, lots of time, but no desire to spend their time doing house chores. They were still full of pep."
In 1960 Livingston began scouting locations. Upon encountering the Windsor Farm, he realized the future value of the land: ""[There was] lot of seepage, and airplanes coming and going 50 feet away, but I was looking at it with a real estate eye. When Lowry decided to abandon its north-south runway, the property became really attractive." Livingston and Farkas approached Walter Andersen, owner of the Windsor Farm and asked him to sell. Initially he balked, but their persistence and dedication eventually won him over. "[Farmer Andersen] was mightily amused by the city slickers with mud and manure all over their shoes," Farkas recollected, "but I think he was also impressed that we waded through all that muck to talk to him face to face." Andersen held a dispersal sale and sold the farm to the developers for $350,000 in early 1961.
After purchasing the land, Livingston and Farkas drew up a two-year projection and entered in a legal partnership called the Windsor Land Company. Their plan was risky, and became even more trying when they had difficulty finding investors who could grasp even the most basic tenets of their idea. Livingston later said, "The idea of starting a condominium, when most people didn't even know how to spell it-well, people would listen to the idea and then ask me what I'd do when I went broke." In fact, Farkas and Livingston had to help create zoning statutes governing condos because none existed before Windsor Gardens. It took nearly a year for the Windsor Land Company to partner with Jay Pritzker of the Hyatt Corporation, who invested $750,000, guaranteed against loss by agreeing to a silent partnership and no mortgage. Not only did Livingston and Farkas each pour $17,500 of their own money into the estimated $40 million project, but they faced unforeseen challenges as well.
First, the developers had to deal with the logistics of creating buildings and extensive recreation facilities such as a golf course. The land was boggy in places, and Arapahoe County zoning regulations limited buildings to two stories. They Hired Tom Hite as the architect, and John Hess, the head of advertising and marketing at the University of Colorado to conduct market research. Farkas and Livingston employed community layout consultants Harman, O'Donnell & Henninger Associates, Inc., winner of Life Magazine's 1960 "Most Perfectly Planned Community in America" for Northglenn, Colorado. By the fall of 1961, plans were announced and the developers began to target prospective buyers. They did not miss any chance to attract residents, "luring buyers with trading stamps...refrigerator, stove, and carpeting for free."
Built in mid-century modern styles, each original building was designed to evoke contemporary, Spanish, Provincial, or Italian Regency details. The mid-century modern aesthetic that peaked between the 1950s and 1970s mirrored the growth of Denver and was very popular during the time many residences were built here. All the original residences were two-stories and originally painted with bright colors like red, green, and sunshine yellow. Each building was air conditioned and housed between eight and thirty-two units with one to two bedrooms.
As anyone who has strolled though Windsor Gardens knows, concrete was used quite creatively in walls and on the lanais. Dozens of patterns of square foot concrete block were pierced in geometric designs, so each building of Windsor Gardens is different. These concrete blocks are often called "Stone Screens", named for architect Edward Durell Stone, who used them often. Stone screens were particularly associated with Palm Springs, California and other sunny climates because they could provide shade from sun while still letting air in. Their heyday was the late 1950s and early 1960s, exactly around the time Windsor Gardens was built.
Architects and preservationists usually agree that 50 years is the minimum age for a structure or object to be considered vintage or historic. As Windsor Gardens celebrates the 50th anniversary of these buildings, perhaps people will begin to see them for the historic treasures they are becoming.
Creating a Community
Within the first month after dedicating Windsor Gardens on October 27, 1962, Farkas and Livingston had already made over $2 million in sales, making up for $1.2 million in construction costs. This boded well for the ambitious project-they hoped to eventually build 2500 apartments on the 143 acres of land. The opening, called Windsor Gardens Festival, lasted for weeks and featured special events such as music, fashion shows, ballets, melodramas, dancing, plays, and tours of show units. Jack Foster, editor of the Rocky Mountain News noted after taking a tour, "To me, the most striking aspect of this beautiful new development is the vast space devoted to recreational and social activities." In addition Edwin C. Johnson, former governor and senator from Colorado presided over the dedication, and local radio personalities Gene Amole, Kay Howe, July Noll, and Starr Yelland broadcast live from the brand new state-of-the-art auditorium.
Residents began moving in around late November and early December of 1962. Gertie Thompson, the first resident to spend the night in the community, recalled that "there were no sidewalks, no paved streets, the ditches were open." Others to move into Windsor Gardens during first few weeks included Lt. Colonel Richard Hurd, his wife Evelyn, and Vera Priller, who lived in Windsor Gardens until 2002. By the end of 1962, forty couples, and some singles as well, had moved in and begun their new lives at Windsor Gardens.
Over the first year, Windsor Gardens focused on building up the amenities and recreational opportunities that drew residents to the development. The first golf foursome consisting of Ken Everett (Windsor Gardens Pro), Howard Farkas, Werner Livingston, and Ed Williams played the new Windsor Gardens course in May, 1963. Residents could relax on the sand beach by the pool, dine in the private restaurant, picnic, or take a variety of classes put on by the first activities director, Marion Brandt. But Windsor Gardens also saw its first controversy-some would even say a scandal. The "Eternal Youth" alabaster statue that still presides over the main entrance to Windsor Gardens was completed the summer of 1962, before Windsor Gardens opened. Made by Denver artist Alford M. Terry, the twelve-foot tall statue originally would not fit in the base, and thus had to be locked up in the auditorium each night during opening festivities. Volunteers charged with this task began to refer to the intertwined figures as "Dick and Liz", in reference to the ongoing romance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Once the base was resized, a large celebration for its official unveiling was planned for June, 1963. The impressive musical carillon played "Some Enchanted Evening" thrice daily, as the statue slowly revolved. But about three months before the dedication some residents began to petition against the statue, debating the "artistic and moral merits" of the nude figures. The controversy stirred up much media attention, even making the national news. By the time of the unveiling on June 16, Farkas had booked the actor Franchot Tone as a special guest, and over 200 people attended the dedication. The statue still stands but the music was silenced years ago when nearby residents complained about the noise.
In 1963, Windsor Gardens was annexed by the City of Denver, meaning the community could now receive city services. In addition, Farkas and Livingston could now construct four-story buildings because Denver zoning regulations were more lenient than Arapahoe County. By 1964 Livingston and Farkas were thinking big-they had sold over 500 units and originally planned to build four 30-story condominium towers, but airspace regulations from nearby Lowry quashed those plans. However, Windsor Gardens did debut the next big phase of development in 1966, when they opened the first 16 luxury townhouses, starting in the upper $20,000 range, a hefty sum in those days!
Around this time, future management of Windsor Gardens began to take shape as an original resident board was elected in 1965 to discuss resident problems and act as an intermediary to Environmental Development, Inc. (E.D.I.), the corporate and fiscal name for the developers. Until the Windsor Gardens Association self-governing resident board was created in 1972, E.D.I. took care of daily affairs, but when Windsor Gardens Association took over, E.D.I. relinquished rights to most aspects of management (despite maintaining ownership of the land, pool, and auditorium). Elected from and by community members, the first board president was Henry Stoddard in 1969, but it was not until 1982 that the first female board president, Alta Sethaler, took office.
By the mid-70s, all 72 planned buildings in Windsor Gardens were complete and the population was larger than many small towns, booming at over 3,500 people. Windsor Gardens was one of the four largest "adult only" communities in the country. Developers attributed their success to stringently maintaining aspects of age-restricted community living: individual home ownership, well-managed property, and many recreational activities. The developers further emphasized the focus on Windsor Gardens as an active adult community, not just a place for retirees, saying, "This is a community of congenial, ebullient people, and well over 60 percent are still working a full schedule at their chosen profession." Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Windsor Gardens became even more notable in the wider area, laying further groundwork that increased the community's reputation as a unique place of vitality, reliability, influence, and tradition. The Board of Directors became more diversified and comfortable in the role of self-government; Windsor Gardens maintained impressive property values; and like today, most residents stayed in Windsor Gardens as long as their health and circumstances permitted.
Why Windsor Gardens Works
Those who live here today would probably agree that Windsor Gardens is forward-thinking-a rare quality for retirement communities that often confuse stagnant practices for desirable stability. But this emphasis on progression was cultivated with time. In the true spirit of Windsor Gardens, one naturally reflects on where this amazing community stands after 50 years, but also what the next 50 years will bring. What are some of the reasons that Windsor Gardens thrives, and why does this community continue to be significant? No doubt each resident personally enjoys certain aspects of Windsor Gardens--the reasons for living here probably outnumber trees on the property! Yet there are tangible reasons why Windsor Gardens is important in the community and remains a desirable place to live.
For one, the amount of care, hard work, and diligence that Windsor Gardens' management devotes to the community is exceptional. One could even argue that this is the cornerstone of what makes Windsor Gardens one of the best age-restricted communities in the country. Nearly all the buildings are over 30 years old now, and several are turning 50, yet management and residents are continuously vigilant in improving the property and keeping buildings in pristine condition. Remarkably, between 1999 and 2010 alone, the Windsor Gardens Association invested over $24 million in capital improvements! Because Windsor Gardens prides itself on providing a wide variety of activities, the foresight and thought that staff and residents put into community buildings and facilities is vital. For example, most residents embraced the large capital project to build Centerpoint, the community center, in 1990, as well as a replacement auditorium build in 1999-2000. The community will also benefit from recent improvements to Centerpoint, including a sauna, new locker rooms, improved roof system, and the relocated community center offices. In 2010, Windsor Gardens opened a new and expanded fitness center on the first floor at the north end of the auditorium building, relocating association offices to the second floor. The fitness facility is very popular with residents and no doubt adds to their health and well-being. Residents take interest in Windsor Gardens because Windsor Gardens and its board and management have their interests in mind.
By 2011, pitched portico entrances have been added to most two and four-story buildings to keep off snow. These new structures were designed by local architect Peter Ewers to blend in and enhance Windsor Garden's Mid-Century Modern residential buildings. Their modest and clever design is praised by residents such as Janis Wright. Mrs. Wright, who has lived in Windsor Gardens since 1968 with her husband Gerald, says she is most impressed by the way management attends to the property, anticipates problems, and does not let anything run down. Residents and staff work together to translate their passion for this community into real results. For example, when possible, management has begun to use modern construction materials that are energy efficient, affordable, of excellent quality, and environmentally friendly. Proactive decisions like this exhibit remarkable vision that benefits residents, the community, and the larger world.
A second characteristic of Windsor Gardens that makes it special is the importance of the community within Denver and the state. To the outsider, Windsor Gardens may appear to be simply a quiet, pretty, well-maintained neighborhood tucked away in the corner of the city. But those familiar with Windsor Gardens are aware that residents' passion and joie de vivre is readily reflected by their collective influence within the wider community. Windsor Gardens' residents are "joiners," participating in a variety of organizations that serve residents as well as the larger community. Windsor Gardens has chapters of the Colorado Symphony Guild, the Optimist Club, retired veterans, and many others. In addition, the community is considered very politically important at local, state, and even national levels, a rare accomplishment for a single neighborhood.
For example, Windsor Gardens has one of the highest voter turnouts in Denver for municipal, state, and national elections, and residents can join Republican and Democratic political clubs that meet monthly. Those who live here are politically astute, involved, and work to build relationships between their community and candidates for political office. Lois Court, current Colorado State Representative for House District 6 (including Windsor Gardens) raves about residents' enthusiasm and how essential Windsor Gardens is in campaigning: "I think Windsor Gardens is crucial to all kinds of elections because the people who live there are very attentive to their civic responsibilities, they pay close attention to what candidates offer and to the ballot issues, and they VOTE!" In election years, both parties hold caucuses at Windsor Gardens, and political clubs organize debates, town halls, and "meet and greets" that attract high-profile public officials such as former State Representative and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. "Windsor Gardens is important because it is home to such a large number of active, engaged, educated voters, " Romanoff explains.
But the importance of Windsor Gardens does not just apply during election season. Romanoff elaborates the influence of Windsor Gardens in policy-making as well: "The feedback I regularly solicited and received from the Windsor Gardens community was very helpful in shaping my work as a state representative." Windsor Gardens can pride itself on not only attracting the attention of prospective candidates, but because residents remain politically active and assert their views even after election season is over.
There is a third aspect of Windsor Gardens that makes it a special community but the importance of it is easy to overlook. Windsor Gardens was built on visionary ideals, a value that management and residents often reflect in their ability to adapt. This capacity for change has helped the community thrive after 50 years because it allows for a welcoming atmosphere that continues to attract people from a variety of places and backgrounds. Windsor Gardens has grown and diversified with the surrounding area, and it expertly manages to balance both established tradition with new influences and practices.
Moya Hansen exemplifies the kind of unique person that Windsor Gardens attracts. She moved into Windsor Gardens when she was 60, but several years later she continues to work in a dynamic field full-time, commuting daily to downtown Denver. She likes that the community is affordable, nice, and safe for single women. Unlike the typical model of torpid, dull retirement living, Windsor Gardens has built a reputation as a welcoming place for those who have a passion for life as they age. Because of this, Windsor Gardens is well positioned to adapt to the tide of Baby Boomers such as Ms. Hansen, who are now beginning to look at retirement options. Denver has the highest percentage of Baby Boomers of all major U.S. cities, so Windsor Gardens' ability to meet this need in the coming years is incredibly notable.
As Windsor Gardens has diversified over the years, the community has provided for unique and interesting perspectives, building a reputation as a welcoming community and created new traditions. In effect, the Windsor Gardens community reflects the American "melting pot," where people of all races, creeds and traditions live in harmony. Colorado is now a destination retirement spot, attracting people from other states, but also those who hail from around the world. Southeast Denver now has a large Eastern European population for example, and Windsor Gardens has welcomed residents from countries such as Poland, Ukraine, and Russia as that demographic grew. The high quality of living that Windsor Gardens provides for all has also resulted in unexpected, but positive developments such as "legacies"-units passed along from one generation to the next, and strengthened connections to outside communities. Although changes also present challenges, the ability to diversify has strengthened and enriched Windsor Gardens.
What a long way Windsor Gardens has come-from dairy farm, to abandoned land, to a pipe dream of two optimistic developers, to one of the largest active adult communities in the country! The population of aging adults in the United States is growing faster than ever before. By 2025, that population is slated to increase by 80%. Places like Windsor Gardens may expect to thrive. Yet, as America becomes even more diverse economically and racially, Windsor Gardens is a rare and shining example of how age-restricted communities can encompass a dynamic, exciting, and important place to live. The success of Windsor Gardens did not happen by accident, but rather because of the passion of its residents and their ability to improve, connect to the greater community, and adapt-something they have proven capable of for 50 years!
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Leslie Krupa is a Denver native and is currently enrolled in the public history master's program at the University of Colorado Denver and is a former Koch Fellow with History Colorado. After receiving her B.A. in history from the same institution in 2008, she co-authored Golf in Denver, a pictorial history of the game in Colorado.