Historic Tour of Boulder's "Little Rectangle"

Please join me on an often-underlooked Boulder homes tour: A Historic Tour of Boulder's "Little Rectangle." These stories and photos are from the archives of Boulder's Carnegie Library for Local History archives.

For over half a century, Boulder’s housing was segregated, as was much of our city (CU would not allow Black students in the dorms, Black residents had to sit in the balcony at the Boulder Theater and needed to be accompanied by whites in many Boulder restaurants). The KKK was active in the city and regularly burned crosses. A train ran from Denver to Boulder, and Black residents in Boulder were pushed to “the other side of the tracks" - into the flood zone - for housing. This neighborhood was called “The Little Rectangle” (now Goss-Grove), and it's the focus of this property tour

  1. 2019 Goss St. - Ruth Cave Flowers (pictured) and her grandmother, Minnesota Waters, built this home. Ruth is the first or second Black graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder (accounts differ). Ruth moved to Boulder from Cripple Creek in 1917 with her sister and grandmother. After living in a mining town relatively free of racial prejudice, Dr. Flowers and her family were unprepared for the segregated life they found in Boulder. Like nearly all Blacks in Boulder, they were virtually forced to live in the area called “The Little Rectangle.”

    Ruth and her sister attended Boulder Preparatory School but were not permitted to graduate because of their race. Still, Dr. Flowers went in to receive her B.A. in foreign languages from the University of Colorado, an LLB degree from Robert Terrel Law School, and a Ph.D. From the Catholic University of America. She returned to Boulder in 1959 and, late in life, spoke frequently about her experiences in Boulder and the racial prejudice she faced.
  2. 2102 Goss - This home was once owned by James and Martha Hall, two of Boulder’s earliest Black citizens. James Hall was born into slavery and later joined the Union Army and fought in the Civil War. The Halls moved the Boulder in 1876 and purchased 2102 Goss St. in 1896. James died in 1922, and Martha used his army pension to buy 2202 Goss, where she lived until she died tragically in a fire in 1930. Her obituary stated that “both she and Mr. Hall had been employed by many old-time Boulder families, and they were held in warm regard by the white people of Boulder.”
  3. 2202 Goss - This was the home of Oscar and Mary White, two do Boulder’s more influential Black citizens. Oscar White was born into slavery in Kentucky and later became a sergeant in the Union Army, serving during the entire Civil War. Oscar and Mary were charter members of the Allen Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a focal point of Boulder’s early Black community. Mary was the Chapel’s Sunday School superintendent, where “she touched the lives of men and women who as children were reared in Boulder and are now living in all parts of the United States.” Martha Hall, another early Black resident, later owned 2202 Goss.
  4. 1903 Goss St - This home was once a boarding house operated by Alice Morrison Baskett, a prominent member of Boulder’s Black community. Here “thousands of Boulderites enjoyed the delicious meals she served, proceeds from which usually went to aid the (Second Baptist) church,” of which she was a charter member. Mrs. Baskett had eight children, including the well-known jazz band leader George Morrison.
  5. 2004 Goss St - By 1950, this home was owned by George and Willa Morrison. George was a well-known jazz musician and band leader who spent much of his youth in Boulder.
  6. 1915 Goss St. - In 1916, this home was occupied by George Reeves, a Black musician who moved to Boulder in 1903 and supported himself by working at Papa’s Shoeshine Parlor and Pearl and Broadway. Reeves married Mary Morrison Reeves, sister of the well-known jazz band leader George Morrison. In the first part of the 20th Century, George Reeves played drums in the Morrison Brothers String Band.

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