Coming Attractions

Digging for history at Golden’s Astor House

Recommended activities for the coming weeks


Archaeology isn’t all holy grails and temples of doom — there’s also community archaeology, which focuses on members of the community exploring the stories of people who lived their lives in the same places they do. And it is a particular interest for Dr. Michele Koons, who recently co-led an investigation into a Golden landmark — The Astor House. 

“I’m very passionate about doing community archaeology and bringing these stories to life so we can appreciate them,” Koons, an archeologist with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, said. “I love pulling back the curtain and seeing the lives of the people who didn’t write everything down so it could be read later.” 

The study of the Astor House site was done in partnership with the Foothills Art Center, Colorado State University, University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Colorado School of Mines, Community College of Denver, Statistical Research Inc. and Metcalf Archaeological Consultants. It was launched as part of the Foothills Art Center’s plans to restore the house and turn into an arts hub. According to provided information, the team used ground-penetrating radar and old fire insurance maps as part of their process, which helped them decide where to dig and how to approach the project. 

The Astor House opened in 1867 and operated as a boarding house and hotel for 104 years. So, it’s not all that surprising that the excavation — which was also led by Amy Gillaspie and made up of volunteers — turned up a great deal of items related to human habitation and recreation. The finds include coins from the late 1800s, a Grand Army of the Republic fraternal order pin (showing dates 1860 through 1866) and items associated with food consumption, like ceramic dishes and bones related to the hotel kitchen. 

“From this we can see the movement of people through the area and that, just like today, Golden was a hub for people to come and spend time,” Koons said. “People are people and always doing the same things, like gathering in a great place to be. Clearly they thought Golden was that place then and think it now.”  

Analysis of the discovered materials is still under way, but once all that is wrapped up, the items will be catalogued and become part of the Golden History Museum’s collections. And there is still an interest in collecting stories from people who spent time at the Astor House when it was still in operation. 

“We live in such an ‘immediate gratification’ culture, that the ideas of who lived before us and what they were doing is really important to remember,” Koons said. “We get so caught up in the moment we’re in right now, but there were so many people living before us. I think we should reflect on their lives and bring their stories to the public.” 

Follow @DenverMuseumNS, @Dr.Michele.Koons and @astorhousearchaeologyproject on Instagram for project updates and visit for other historic activities.


Autumnal traditions return for Lakewood Cider Days 

Lakewood’s Cider Days Festival is nearing 50, but it doesn’t look a day over 25. And this year it’s aiming for a return to form with something for everyone. The 45th year is set up at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park, 801 S. Yarrow St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3.   

This year’s event features cider pressing and historic demonstrations, as well as the state’s largest antique and vintage tractor pull. For the adults, Foothills Credit Union’s Beer Garden will be serving up beer and hard cider from places like the Colorado Cider Company and WestFax Brewing Company.  

Visit for information and tickets. 


Fall colors come to life at Evergreen water media exhibit 

There’s nothing like getting up into the mountains during the autumn, and if you can check out some beautiful art at the time, so much the better. The Center for the Arts Evergreen has both covered with the 48th Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition

Running through Saturday, Oct. 30, the annual exhibit features work from 65 of the country’s top water media artists from 25 states selected from more than 485 entries. The show runs at the center, 31880 Rocky Village Drive in Evergreen, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

Details can be found at


Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Leon Bridges at Mission Ballroom and Red Rocks

For fans of vintage soul — music that hearkens back to the past without being derivative – it doesn’t get much better than Leon Bridges. The man is about as smooth as it gets, but don’t mistake all that style for no substance — songs like “River” and “Sweeter” — show a man in touch with the times on a deep level. 


Bridges can play big spaces and intimate clubs, and he’ll be doing a bit of both with two shows this week. The first will be at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, at the Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop St. in Denver, and the second at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, at Red Rocks, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, in Morrison.    

Get tickets at and


Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at

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