Evans, Anne

Written by Barbara Sternberg on .


Anne Evans

1871 - 1941


Anne Evans was the daughter of John Evans, the second Territorial Governor of Colorado, and his well-educated New England wife, Margaret. Governor Evans was a man of prodigious accomplishments, including leading the effort to connect Denver with the transcontinental railroad and founding the University of Denver. He was a sponsor of a number of Denver's early civic associations. Margaret was a leader in the establishment of vital social and cultural organizations as the young city developed.

Born in London in 1871, Anne was educated in a small private school in Denver and then at an Episcopal school for girls. She was a lively and adventurous child, and a tomboy. At age 15, she was sent to spend a "civilizing year" with an older cousin in Evanston. Then, like her mother, she attended schools in Paris and Berlin, focusing on art, and finished her formal education at the Art Students' League in New York.

As a child, Anne lived in the family home at 14th and Arapahoe. After her father died, her brother built an addition onto the house he had purchased from William Byers at 1310 Bannock Street, to accommodate his mother and sister. Anne lived in this house for the rest of her life, and died there in 1941. It is now the Byers-Evans House Museum owned by Colorado History and is open to the public.

Anne spent her summers on the beautiful Evans Ranch in the mountains above Evergreen. In 1868, Governor Evans and Samuel Elbert bought the nucleus of what became a 4,000-acre property. Anne designed her own unique mountain home there, and had it built in 1910 by "Evergreen's master carpenter" Jock Spence.

She had many connections in Evergreen, among them close Denver friends who had summer homes in the area. The most important connection was with Canon Winfred Douglas. His wife, Dr. Josepha, inherited a large section of Evergreen, including what is now the Hiwan Homestead, from her mother, Mary Neosho Williams. Their summer home was a busy hive of ecclesiastical and social activities. Anne Evans was a frequent guest at their lively outdoor "Cow Camp Suppers." Canon Douglas and his wife were long-time collectors of Native American art, especially from New Mexico, and shared with Anne Evans a passionate conviction that this art was worthy of being placed in art museums alongside the art of any other culture. Douglas was both a collector and a trader in Indian art. Anne made many trips to New Mexico with him and his young son Frederick (Eric). In later years, Anne brought Eric Douglas into the Denver Art Museum, first as a volunteer docent and then as the first full-time curator of Native American Art, which she had started with donations from her own collection.

Anne Evans never married, but expended her energy, time and resources on helping to develop the cultural institutions of the city and state she loved. She contributed greatly to the:

  • development of the Denver Art Museum
  • growth of the Denver Public Library into a first class institution
  • development of the University of Denver Arts and Theater Departments
  • restoration of the Central City Opera House
  • initiation of the Central City Summer Festival

As a member of the Municipal Art Commission, she was a vital supporter of Mayor Speer's efforts to transform Denver into a City Beautiful and develop its Civic Center.

Anne Evans was a quiet benefactor to many talented artists in Colorado, often helping them to get the education and commissions needed for success. An early member of the Committee to Preserve the Mission Churches of New Mexico, she raised interest and money in Denver to contribute to that cause. Her contributions, much honored in her day, have been virtually forgotten.

Source: Barbara Sternberg, author of Anne Evans – A Pioneer in Colorado's Cultural History