We met Dianne Roth and her father Milton last year, when they stopped by our house at 5 South Fox Street, the bungalow and compound that Henry Roth had built. Dianne, Henry’s granddaughter, sent this news article that was published soon after the house was built. (Denver wanted to tax Henry Roth more than he had paid in materials for the house.)
She included some family photographs:
• Rusty, her dad’s dog, in front of the house, in the early 1930s
• A wedding picture of Henry and Mary Roth
• Henry Roth the granddad
• Mary Roth and Henry’s sister Mabel
• Henry and his granddaughter Dianne
• Three generations of Roths: Henry, Dianne, and Milton
• Milton Roth in the bathroom, which doesn’t look that much different from today.
It’s nice to get to know the builder and paterfamilias, through his family. We expect to see more of the family this summer or next, for a planned reunion.
B50 note: Henry Roth built the bungalow style houses in the Baker Neighborhood by hand in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The house is on the national historic register. M Thornton added this as a postscript to his original post, The Henry Roth Houses on Fox Street.
This is a statement submitted in an application for a house in the Baker neighborhood to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result of this successful application a new term for the architecture was coined: “Hobo Craftsman”.
Narrative Statement of Significance
Three houses on South Fox Street at Ellsworth Avenue, in the Baker neighborhood, were hand-built by Henry Roth in the Bungalow or Craftsman style of architecture. He made ingenious use of cobblestones from the South Platte River, metal barrel-lids from canisters of railroad spikes, and other found and recycled materials. He built the houses from 1927 to 1941, during the time of the Great Depression with its transient populace. Located only a few blocks from the railroad line, many people looking for work wandered the neighborhood. Mrs. Roth handed out sandwiches at her back door. This was also the time when tourist camps and motor courts spread throughout America. These cobblestone houses not only reflect the Craftsman style of building, but their orientation in conjunction with the sheds on the property represent the typical grouping of cabins in a motor court. Henry Roth’s occupation as a cooper aided him in making use of salvaged metal barrel-lids to construct the sheds, which served as sleeping quarters during the 1930s. The landscaping is reminiscent of tourist camps located near rivers, where fast growing trees like elms and honey locusts are prevalent. Common lilacs provided a sense of hospitality. The buildings and grounds have been preserved, and represent a historical period in America when people were struggling to make ends meet. Henry Roth built the houses for his family, and built the sheds for income. He used materials that other people overlooked or dumped. These houses stand in marked contrast to the neighboring Baker Historic District in Denver, where Victorian houses built at the turn of the twentieth century are the norm.
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In the basement of our Highland neighborhood house at 29th and Wyandot Street some years ago we found a few mementos of someone we never knew. Her name was Mary E. Horlbeck, and she appears (as far as we can tell) to have been a writer and possibly a proprietor of a diner in Edgewater (called Mary and Al’s). The following images come from a scrapbook she kept regarding her professional writing career between 1933 and 1937 – it document rejection letters she received from magazines all around the country.
In the scrapbook we found 138 rejection letters, all carefully glued in place, with the name of the story she had submitted written on them and occasionally a date. Over the years she authored and submitted many dozens of stories (with titles like Tomato Red, The Blessed Latticed Gate, Rake-Off, Rapture More Golden, and The Flesh Is Weak) to publications including Modern Romance, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Delineator, and Red Book and many others.
For some years, apparently, she never had a story published, though she did publish a few stories eventually after the scrapbook was all full up. We found four acceptance letters thrown in to the scrapbook loosely; for one story, she received forty-five dollars, fifty for another. A third said that she would have to wait till later to get paid, and the fourth said that she was the winner of tenth place in the Writer’s Digest short story contest.
The 1930’s were a tough time in Denver, around the country, and worldwide. This scrapbook is a testament to one person’s willingness to continue to pursue her dreams.