The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has made investments in this community that may surprise you. What started as a group of businessmen in the 1860s became not just a promoter of our economy, but also a longstanding community advocate. From raising money to ensure the University of Denver (DU) could operate debt free to establishing and housing the first public library, the Chamber has invested deeply in its neighborhoods and partners.
A Debt Free University
In 1902, the Chamber was asked by University of Denver Chancellor Henry Buchtel for the cooperation of the Chamber in raising money to wipe out the university’s debt. During that time, DU was the oldest university in the Rocky Mountain region and had been educating Denver’s citizens since it opened in 1880 – previously it was known as the Colorado Seminary until it closed in 1866.
The Chamber answered Chancellor Buchtel’s request and helped the University operate debt free. Today, DU has over 11,000 students and the Chamber is still as committed to education as it was in 1902 — especially when it comes to preparing our future workforce.
Did you know? In 1925, the Chamber endorsed the expansion program of the University of Denver to raise $100,000,000 needed for buildings and an endowment of a five-year expansion program. And, when DU’s Hilltop Stadium opened in 1926 the Chamber presented a Denver flag at the opening ceremony.
Bridging Books and Business
Back in 1884, your local Chamber was also your library.
The first public library in Denver was established on July 17, 1884, and was known as the Mercantile Library of the Chamber of Commerce. Housed on the first floor of the Chamber’s building on 14th and Lawrence streets, the public library was a part of the experience as businessmen and women visited.
In 1898 the operations of the library were moved to a board of directors appointed by Denver Mayor Thomas S. McMurry. That year alone, 126,307 books were lent, it was open for 310 days and 124,000 people used a reading room – talk about a thirst for knowledge!
Did you know? The Chamber will be hosting an exhibit at the Denver Public Library from April – October showcasing not only the history of the Chamber, but the history of Denver. Gold level members, join us for the Gold Networking: Chamber 150th Exhibit Opening on April 11.