The Little Rectangle & Beyond: Exploring Boulder's Historic Black Community

Welcome to a journey into the world of Boulder’s early Black citizens, a history that is unknown to most people, even most Boulderites.. Read the Introduction!

The Little Rectangle & Beyond: Exploring Boulder's Historic Black Community

Boulder, Colorado 80302, United States

Created By: Historic Boulder, Inc.

Tour Information

Beginning in the 1870's, Black settlers began to arrive in Boulder, and Colorado, where the climate for equality was more favorable than they found in the Southern and border states where they came from, and milder yet from Kansas where some made an intermediate stop. By 1893, O.T. Jackson, a Black restaurateur, was listed as one of the city’s leading businessmen. However, the early 20th century brought increased racial hostility, discrimination in employment and housing opportunities, and for a period a strong Ku Klux Klan presence. This tour focuses on the lives of some of the people who lived through these events, where they lived and attended church, and their accomplishments.

Walking Tour Notes

This walking tour will take approximately 90 minutes. The Goss Street and south of Canyon Boulevard portion takes approximately 1 hour, and the north of Canyon Boulevard segment in which the buildings are more spread apart takes approximately 1/2 hour.

Start the tour at 22nd and Goss streets. On-street parking is available on the residential neighborhood streets of this tour. Please stay on the sidewalk and do not enter onto private property respecting the privacy of residents. Use the crosswalk when crossing Canyon Boulevard.

Photos for each Stop on the tour appear at the top of the page for each Stop. Scroll to the left to scroll through all of the photos available for each stop.

The first photo is a current photo of the building or site. With one exception, the second photo is a historic photo of the building or site. Most Stops have an additional third or more photos. Scroll the first photo to the left to see additional photos.


  • Carnegie Library for Local History, Boulder, Colorado
  • A Legacy of Missing Pieces: The Voices of Black Women of Boulder County, 2002, edited by Polly E. Burgos McLean, Ph.D
  • “The Black Community of Boulder, Colorado,”1996, unpublished paper by Dan W. Corson
  • History of Second Baptist Church, Boulder, Colorado from its website
  • Goss-Grove Neighborhood History and Survey Results
  • 1985-1986 Boulder Survey of Historic Places, Conducted by Christine Whitacre and R. Laurie Simmons, Surveyors, 1986

Photo Credits:

  • Historic photos are courtesy of Carnegie Library for Local History, Boulder, Colorado except as otherwise noted below.
  • Contemporary photos were taken at the direction of Historic Boulder, Inc. by Ann Cooper and Darcy Sherman.
  • Historic photo of Chautauqua Dining Hall is courtesy of Carnegie Library for Local History/Museum of Boulder Collection.
  • Historic photo of Lillian Wheeler in her barber shop is courtesy of Polly E. Burgos McLean, Ph.D. from A Legacy of Missing Pieces: The Voices of Black Women of Boulder County Cover page of the "Negro Motorist Green Book" is courtesy of the New York Public Library.


Special thanks for this project go to Kathryn Barth, Ann Cooper, Dan Corson, Wendy Hall, Nicole Docimo and the staff at Carnegie Library for Local History, Natalie Feinberg Lopez, Michael Matts, Polly E. Burgos McLean Ph.D., Kenneth McVey, Melanie Julian Muckle, Minister Glenda Robinson, Kayann Short Ph.D, and Carol Taylor.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Most stops have more than one photo, scroll to the left to view them all.  We begin the tour at the intersection of 22nd St. and Goss Cir. Unlike Boulder’s earliest white settlers, who came as single men--many of them miners—Boulder’... Read more
Oscar White, born in 1844, was a former enslaved person from Louisville, Kentucky.  He fought for the Union in the Civil War.  His portrait is the third photo above. He arrived in Boulder in 1880.  Oscar’s wife Mary arrived in Boulder ... Read more
Martha and James Hall moved to Boulder from Kansas with their three children in 1876.  They may be the first recorded Black citizens to live in Boulder [although records were not maintained then as they now are].  Colorado had the reputat... Read more
Delbert Ray moved to Boulder when he was two years old, having traveled here with his parents in 1914. The family lived in the next block at 1953 Goss Street. His father, Alfred Ray, was a janitor at the First National Bank on Pearl Street,... Read more
 Ruth Lolita Cave Flowers lived in this house at 2019 Goss Street off and on from 1921 until she passed in 1980.  She and her sister Dorothy grew up Cripple Creek with their grandmother Minnesota Waters—she went by Minnie—who wanted t... Read more
Caleb A. Allen was born in December 1876 in Atlanta Georgia, and by 1880 when he was four, his family had moved to Denver. His first marriage in 1908 was to Emma Bailey, which did not last more than five years. In 1915, Caleb married Reona ... Read more
George Morrison, featured in the second photo with his violin, was born in Fayette, Missouri in 1891. In 1900, at the young age of nine, he and his older brother Lee made their way to Boulder.  The two boys lived here and there in the vici... Read more
Anthony Ray was born in 1926, one of seven children born to Alfred and Carrie Morrison Ray who lived at 1953 Goss Street.  He was the brother of Delbert Ray who operated Ray’s Inn one block east that you previously visited.  Like many i... Read more
This house is one of the remaining backlot houses built because housing opportunities were limited for Black citizens.  Please view the house from the sidewalk along the street and do not enter the private sidewalk or driveway to the house... Read more
George Washington Reeves Jr, son of a minister, was born in Sturgeon, Missouri in 1876. He was one of seven children born to the Rev. George Washington Reeves Sr. and Mary F. Turner Reeves.   In 1900, he married Mary J. Morrison in Fayette... Read more
This house is another one of the remaining backlot houses.  Please view the house from the sidewalk along the street and do not enter the private driveway to the house. Directions to Stop 12:  Stop 12 is next door to Stop 11.  The histor... Read more
The historic portion of the house is on the corner of 19th and Goss Streets.  There is a large contemporary addition on the east side with additional housing units. The building has been converted into condominiums. Alice Baskett Iived her... Read more
Lillian Beckley Wheeler, born July 6, 1900 in Tupelo, Mississippi, was the 21st of 22 siblings.  Yes, 21 of 22! At 15, she married Thomas Wheeler whose father left him some farmland near Okolona, Mississippi.  In 1924, with their son Lide... Read more
John Wesley McVey was born March 22, 1855 in Mount Hope, Alabama. His mother was born and wedded into slavery, and took the name McVey, which was the name of her master. John never knew what happened to his father, but his mother bore nine ... Read more
Albert Stephens, his wife Eliza, and her nephew Robert lived in this house from about 1908 to 1910. Albert worked as headwaiter at the O’Connor Hotel on Walnut Street. He was born in Georgia, and Eliza and Robert were born in Kentucky. Li... Read more
Grace Lingham lived in Boulder her entire life, a life centered here around the Second Baptist Church, now boasting colorful murals as an apartment building. Her parents, Frank and LuLu Lingham, came to Boulder in 1899 and first lived with... Read more
Georgia Moseley lived at 2418 Pine Street for many years with her large family. She married Charles Moseley after the death of his first wife, Amy.  Charles was an 1884 charter member of the Allen Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal... Read more
O. T. Jackson was named after Oliver Toussaint, the Haitian revolutionary hero, which was a mouthful, so O. T. he became.  He was born in Oxford, Ohio in 1862.  His father was a landscaper descended from a line of freedmen since the Revol... Read more
Alexander James was born in Virginia in 1850. When he first moved to Boulder, he worked as a laborer. But by 1885, he was a cook in hotels and restaurants such as the Silver Grill on Pearl Street and the St Julian Hotel on 13th Street. Afte... Read more
Henry Stevens, whose portrait is the third photo above, lived in this home until his death in 1945. He was born into slavery in Missouri in 1863 and moved to Boulder in 1879. He was one of Boulder’s first Black residents, coming from Miss... Read more
Frances Black came to Boulder from Kentucky in 1880 with her four children, the youngest only six years old at the time.  She was able to buy the handsome house at 2002 Spruce Street.  She was a widow and worked hard as a laundress, and w... Read more
“Glad tidings to you all, and may God bless, “ would be the type of greeting one would receive from James Clay, that is Reverend James Clay--Hannibal, Missouri born--who came to Boulder in 1884 as the first pastor of the Allen Chapel of... Read more


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