Historic Colorado photos: Sandra Dallas and her eye for architecture

It’s an eye for detail and Colorado architecture that defines author Sandra Dallas’ collection of photographs in the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection.

Exterior of the Dos Rios Ranch Mansion built by Alonzo and Annie Hartman in 1892, west of Gunnison, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-9373)history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
A stove and its stovepipe are in front of a wall with patterned wallpaper in a Central City residence. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2886) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
A stove and its stovepipe are in front of a wall with patterned wallpaper in a Central City residence. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2886)

It’s an eye for detail and Colorado architecture that defines author Sandra Dallas’ collection of photographs in the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection. Her portfolio demonstrates a certain sense of place and eye for features that seem to represent a bygone era in the American West.

Interior view of the solarium of the Hamill House, in Georgetown, Colorado. The house was built by Joseph Watson and acquired by mine owner William A. Hamill in 1874. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1244) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Interior view of the solarium of the Hamill House, in Georgetown, Colorado. The house was built by Joseph Watson and acquired by mine owner William A. Hamill in 1874. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1244)

And that seems fitting. Dallas’ prolific body of work as a longtime Denver journalist and writer straddles both fiction and non-fiction, and is united by historic settings and tales rooted in the past.

ALSO IN THE HISTORIC COLORADO PHOTO SERIES: Donald Kemp | Henry Mellon Rhoads | Burnis McCloud | Charles Lillybridge
View of the dilapidating wood frame residence of Jacob and Maija Kochevar, (Yugoslavian immigrants) Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-7623) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
View of the dilapidating wood frame residence of Jacob and Maija Kochevar, (Yugoslavian immigrants) Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, Gunnison County, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-7623)

Her photographic work embraces flares and flourishes that are characteristic of a time when things were hand crafted, details that, says DPL researcher Randel Metz, “impart the often overlooked, less tangible parts of history that we miss in classically framed photographs.”

Interior view of a square grand piano at the Frank G. Bloom residence, in Trinidad, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1906) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Interior view of a square grand piano at the Frank G. Bloom residence, in Trinidad, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1906)

Dallas moved to Denver as a young child. She studied journalism at DU, where she gained the chops to join Business Week, now owned by Bloomberg. When Dallas became the Denver bureau chief in 1969, she also became the first female bureau chief of a national news magazine, according to Metz in his blog post about her.

A black and white photograph of Trinity United Methodist Church. The Hotel Cosmopolitan can been seen across the street from the church. Circa 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
A black and white photograph of Trinity United Methodist Church. The Hotel Cosmopolitan can been seen across the street from the church. Circa 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection)

According to the bio on her website, Dallas’ twenty-five-year stint at Business Week took her to all corners of Rocky Mountain culture and geography, a wide stretch of experiences that has inspired much of her fiction writing. It seems, too, that these experiences have left their mark on her visual pursuits.

View of 17th (Seventeenth) Street in downtown Denver, Colorado. Shows the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, the Albany Hotel, the Colorado National Bank building, and the Brown Palace Hotel. Signs read: "Las Vegas. Liquor. Soda. Clarke's Drug." Circa 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-29193) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
View of 17th (Seventeenth) Street in downtown Denver, Colorado. Shows the Guaranty Bank and Trust Company, the Albany Hotel, the Colorado National Bank building, and the Brown Palace Hotel. Signs read: “Las Vegas. Liquor. Soda. Clarke’s Drug.” Circa 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-29193)

You can see the library’s full collection of her work here, and be sure to also check out Metz’ full collection of “acclaimed western photographers.”

Interior view of the Hamill House, in Georgetown, Colorado, built by Joseph Watson and acquired by mine owner William A. Hamill in 1874. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1242) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Interior view of the Hamill House, in Georgetown, Colorado, built by Joseph Watson and acquired by mine owner William A. Hamill in 1874. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-1242)
Daylight streams through the lace curtains of a dining room in Central City, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2882) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Daylight streams through the lace curtains of a dining room in Central City, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2882)
Image of a dark bedroom in the Prosser house in Central City that is illuminated only by the sunlight from the window. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2898) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Image of a dark bedroom in the Prosser house in Central City that is illuminated only by the sunlight from the window. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-2898)
Exterior of the Dos Rios Ranch Mansion built by Alonzo and Annie Hartman in 1892, west of Gunnison, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-9373) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Exterior of the Dos Rios Ranch Mansion built by Alonzo and Annie Hartman in 1892, west of Gunnison, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1965. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-9373)
Exterior view of the west facade of the Healy House State Museum on the northwest corner of Harrison Avenue and East Tenth Street in Leadville, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1970. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-263) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Exterior view of the west facade of the Healy House State Museum on the northwest corner of Harrison Avenue and East Tenth Street in Leadville, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1970. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-263)
Interior view of a wall mural and portion of a beamed ceiling in the Frederick Warshauer residence in Antonito, Conejos County, Colorado. Between 1964. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-6629) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Interior view of a wall mural and portion of a beamed ceiling in the Frederick Warshauer residence in Antonito, Conejos County, Colorado. Circa 1964. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-6629)
Exterior view of "Gargoyle" House, 302 West Pitkin Avenue, Pueblo, Colorado, shows a two-story rock-faced stone residence with corner tower, turret, balustrade, and semi-elliptical double-arched porch. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-10783) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Exterior view of “Gargoyle” House, 302 West Pitkin Avenue, Pueblo, Colorado, shows a two-story rock-faced stone residence with corner tower, turret, balustrade, and semi-elliptical double-arched porch. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-10783)
Exterior view of Grand Trianon, formerly called Claremont, Colorado Springs. Between 1960 and 1970. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-14716) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Exterior view of Grand Trianon, formerly called Claremont, Colorado Springs. Between 1960 and 1970. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-14716)
Interior view of the kitchen in Charles H. Harris (ranch homesteader) in Carbondale, Roaring Fork River Valley, Garfield County, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-6785) history colorado; historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
Interior view of the kitchen in Charles H. Harris (ranch homesteader) in Carbondale, Roaring Fork River Valley, Garfield County, Colorado. Between 1960 and 1980. (Sandra Dallas/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-6785)
ALSO IN THE HISTORIC COLORADO PHOTO SERIES: Donald Kemp | Harry Mellon Rhoads | Burnis McCloud | Charles Lillybridge

Kevin Beaty

Author: Kevin Beaty

Kevin Beaty is a media producer with experience in a variety of settings spanning Hollywood film sets to international backpack journalism expeditions. He is on a never-ending quest to meld artful imagery, functional design and intimate storytelling. His biggest struggle in any given moment is whether to shoot stills or video.