17 Mile House and Barn
Location: North of Mainstreet and Parker Road. Proceed North on Parker Road about 3.5 miles. 17 Mile House and barn are on the West side of Parker Road.
This structure was built in the 1860s on the Cherokee Trail by an unknown builder. The 17 Mile House was once an important stop for emigrants along the historic trail. Although according to some it was once a stage stop, it has been suggested by Margaret Long in her book The Smoky Hill Trail that the place was not a stage stop, but a tavern serving meals and providing accommodations to travelers.
The property was first obtained from the U. S. Government by a soldier, James Barron. It is unknown who built the first part of the structure, but it was most likely built by a squatter, as were many of the first settlement structures in the area. The core structure was built of squared logs which over time were covered with clapboards.
Mary Hightower acquired the property in 1867 and in doing so pledged it as security for a $200 loan from William M. and George Clayton. Mary defaulted on the loan and title passed to the Clayton Brothers. The Clayton Bros. sold the place to Susan & Nelson Doud, who had been operating the 20 Mile House at Parker. They added the large barn and began operating the property as a farm, as well as an accommodation for travelers. It became known as the 17 Mile House as it was 17 miles from Colfax and Broadway in Denver. It was one of several mile houses along the Cherokee Trail which entered Denver from the South. The Douds and their five daughters ran the operation for four years and then sold out to George F. and Sarah Cummings in April of 1881. After George died in 1891 his wife sold the property to Henry and Julia Blesse in 1906, who held the property until 1915, when they sold it to S.J . Lindholm. The Lindholms operated the property for over 20 years. In 1938 John W. and Dorthy E. Race acquired the property from the Denver Joint Stock Land Bank. The Races lived there and farmed from 1936 to 1976, raising their four children there. They were the last owners to operate a farm on the property.
In 1977 a series of developers began pursuing a variety of proposed projects on the property, all requiring the destruction of the house and barn. A preservation effort by the Cherry Creek Historical Society succeeded in thwarting these plans and the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on 11-3-1983.
In 2001 a partnership led by Arapahoe County and coordinated by the Trust for Public Lands was formed to acquire and preserve the 17 Mile House property. Those providing funds for this effort included Arapahoe County, The Town of Parker, Douglas County, Great Outdoors Colorado, The Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, The City of Aurora, and The Trust for Public Land. The property was acquired in March of 2001.
This 30-acre property is joined by a 75-acre parcel on the South known as the Norton Farm, owned by Douglas County Open Space and the Town of Parker, and seven acres south of that property is being developed by Parker as a Preservation Park.
This information updated in January of 2009 by Larry T. Smith