Evergreen’s origins date back to 1859 when a closely-knit group of families settled here and formed a ranching community. During the late nineteenth century, due to its proximity to Denver, city residents increasingly came up the hill to build summer homes and hunting cabins. After the dam was built and the reservoir filled in 1928, thus creating Evergreen Lake, the area increased in popularity. Evergreen is now home to 40,000 residents. It is within commuting distance of the Denver area, and serves as a popular day-trip destination.
Over the past 25 years, Main Street has grown from a small commercial district with a grocery store, gas station, post office and general store, into the arts district it is now. As the original businesses left, stores specializing in unique and handcrafted items opened their doors. The District has organically transformed into a compact, robust area of creative industries, tightly packing artistic richness into this vibrant area. Every niche is filled with outdoor sculptures, restaurants offering unique menus, galleries and shops selling original artworks, blown glass, handcrafted pottery, artisan jewelry, photography, soaps, candies, and clothing. Over 75 entrepreneurs (either in single ownership or partnership) own 17 restaurants and 47 creative businesses. Among them are galleries, gift shops, fashion and jewelry stores and one music school offering private lessons.
Additionally, eleven downtown businesses employ designers and writers: two floral shops use three designers; two sign companies employ four; the architectural firm typically has between four and six architects and engineers in its Evergreen home office; two home furnishing stores use four interior designers; one graphic arts studio employs two; a local newspaper has eight writers and four graphic artists; and there are two goldsmiths and one guitar maker. Center Stage engages 570 set, lighting and costume designers, theatrical technicians, directors, choreographers and performers annually.
Among the three coffee shops and 14 restaurants, three offer live music venues for both local and national bands and musicians. Creekside Cellars Winery ferments their wine on site; there are plans to open a brewpub within the year at the historic Conference Center. Three restaurants display rotating works of local artists within the District.
Evergreen National Bank is a valued community supporter. It hangs the work of local artists in its lobby; hosts the kick-off party for the EDBA Annual Egg Decorating Contest and displays the eggs for two weeks. The bank also hosts the kick-off party for the Annual Open Door Studios Tour and exhibits artwork by each of the 30+ featured artists.
The District includes several non-profit arts organizations. Center Stage is housed in the historic Episcopalian Conference Center Meeting House. Designed for worship, pageants and classes, the building has now become the principal performing arts space for the surrounding foothills. This 160-seat theater provides the venue for music and drama performances by Evergreen Chorale, Children’s Chorale, and Evergreen Players. Overall 11,500 audience members attended the 93 performances in 2013, that were dramatized by 570 set, lighting, costume designers, theatrical technicians, directors, choreographers and performers. Both Center Stage and Hiwan Homestead Museum were listed with the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Hiwan Homestead is a historical 25-room log lodge that evolved from a one-room cabin constructed in 1893. Exhibits rotate throughout the year. In collaboration with Jefferson County Historical Society, the museum receives funding for special shows and displays historically important artifacts and objects illustrating Colorado’s cultural heritage in a collection, 80% of which is owned by the Society. The museum offers educational opportunities through year-round tours
of its buildings along with classes, events, and summer camps for children. The museum will sponsor three exhibits in 2014, including a collection of beadwork from the 1900’s, and events including a bluegrass concert, quilt festival, an outdoor series showing classic movies to the accompaniment of live piano and a program about ghost towns. The museum serves approximately 20,000 visitors each year.
Sculpture Evergreen has nine permanent sculptures in the District and annually installs an additional ten sculptures created by artists from around the country. Sculpture Evergreen hosts an annual 'Sculpture Walk' whereby visitors can call in with their cell phones to receive detailed information about each sculpture. The caller will hear about that particular sculpture, the artist's inspiration, what to look for and why. They have also placed sculptures throughout the foothill area leading into the downtown area. To hear an example, dial (303) 562-0435 and Press 8# to listen to the recording about the Zodiac Totem by Pokey Park.
The Evergreen Artists Association (EAA), established in 1958, promotes the visual arts in our mountain community with art shows, member activities, scholarships, workshops, programs and the annual Evergreen Fine Arts Festival held on the grounds of Hiwan Homestead. This national, juried show features 100 artists, along with live music performances. Around 7,000 people attend this annually. The organization has nearly 150 members and maintains the Main Street Fine Art Gallery in Downtown Evergreen.
Evergreen Lake is the site for skating, fishing and year-round events and concerts, attracting up to 35,400 attendees annually. In 2014 the venue will be the site for the 13th annual Jazz Festival, coinciding with Arts Alive; a summer concert series sponsored by Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD) and the Evergreen Music Festival on July 4th also featuring the EAA member art show in the lake house.
The Evergreen Nature Center, located in the historical old boathouse/warming hut is a project of the Audubon Society, educating 15,000 visitors per season about the local environment, along with another 1,500 participants of field trips, public classes, and events.
The District’s partner, Center for the Arts Evergreen (CAE) provides mountain area residents with a place to acquire high quality art instruction, view art exhibitions and engage in creative activities. The CAE exhibition space is also used for small concerts and recitals as well as symposiums and lectures. Its classrooms include a ceramic studio and a multi-use teaching room. The CAE schedules 12 annual art exhibits showcasing both national artists and those from the mountain community.
The Humphrey History Park and Museum’s goal is to preserve and interpret the mountain heritage of Colorado to a diverse public. The museum presents living history experiences that engage, entertain and educate visitors on the history and challenges our mountain founders faced through the story of the Humphrey family.
The annual Open Door Studios Tour is a self-guided road tour scheduled on the third weekend in September, which allows visitors to see the studios of 30+ artists living within the District or the Evergreen environs. Its purpose is to help the public understand the talent, skills and craftsmanship displayed by featured artists. The preview show for this event is held at Evergreen National Bank on Main Street.
Additionally, Evergreen is a melting pot of over 150 musicians, producers, promoters and instructors, giving rise to a robust music scene with deep connections. The town has achieved a strong regional reputation because of the popular music venues that support the local musicians. Many have moved here specifically for that reason. The genres range from country, rock, bluegrass, folk, and jazz. It has also been described as ‘Mountain Music,’ an allusion to its being organically rooted in the natural tones and progressions inspired by Evergreen’s beautiful setting. The town is home to numerous formally organized bands and also individual musicians who play either singly or come together informally for a single event in a mix-band.
District music venues include the Little Bear Saloon, Cactus Jack’s Saloon & Grill, Center Stage, Evergreen Lake, Elks Lodge, Rio del Sol, Muddy Buck Café and Pub, Hiwan Homestead, and the greens surrounding Church of the Transfiguration (all within the District). Musicians also play nonprofit fundraisers and events such as the Big Chili Cook Off, the Flood Relief Benefit and Boogie at the Barn in Alderfer/Three Sisters Park. Many individuals and bands produce and record their own original music.
There are a tremendous number of talented individuals who make their homes in Evergreen. Tucked in among the canyons and hillsides and perched upon surrounding peaks, they enjoy the creative richness of living here. At times they form organizations and at other times informally jam and make music and dance. People move here because of the artists, musicians and other creatives living here.
Those who live in Evergreen love this town, are devoted and loyal to its well-being and take great pride in being part of this community.