2222 W. 32nd Avenue
Sat 10AM–4PM, Sun Closed
Architect: James Murdoch
Architectural Style: Gothic Revival
Year Built: 1890
Designation: National Register of Historic Places
Our Merciful Savoir Episcopal Church is a well-preserved example of a late 19th century urban neighborhood church in the Gothic Revival Style. It has a steeply pitched gabled roof, numerous pointed arches, and a graceful spire. Brick was used as the primary building material, and the building blends in well with the surrounding neighborhood. The parsonage is an example of a Queen Anne style house. Even though the brick has been painted, the building retains much of its original integrity, and it stands in its original location. Most of the original design has remained intact, including the interior of the church, which still has the original pews, floors, interior walls, unique hammer beams with wainscoted ceiling in herringbone pattern, and the lovely rose window. The original organ installed in 1891 is still in use today. The church stands as an excellent example of a small church designed to serve a parish of working class families.
This church was originally named All Saints Episcopal Church and traces its origins to 1874 when it was organized as a mission by Eliza Barton. It remained All Saints until 1961 when a new larger church was dedicated at another location. The old or present structure was renamed The Chapel of Our Merciful Savior.
After the Civil War there was a large influx to Colorado of English, Germans, Scots, Welch, and Cornishmen. Many Germans settled in North Denver, and some were employed by Zang and other breweries along the Platte. After the Silver Crash in 1893, the area experienced an influx of Welsh and Cornish miners. Few of the arrivals were wealthy but were proud and hardworking family men. The title “working class-lower middle class” fit the parishioners of the church. Because of their lower economic status they were not able to financially help alter or modernize the church, which is why the building has had few changes over the years.
Reverend Frederick W. Oakes was the second rector of the church. In 1894 he founded a home at West 32nd and Elliot Streets for tubercular persons. Running this home soon became his primary job and he resigned as rector. When he retired in 1934 the home had treated over 20,000 patients. The Chapel of Our Merciful Savior was named in honor of Oakes.
The church, which is still used for worship services, appears very much as it was when it was originally constructed. The brick has been painted a soft pink color and the windows on the second level of the tower have been boarded up. In 1959, the church underwent a facelift and interior decoration, and in 2000 the organ was restored.
Today the church offers bilingual services and other social outreach programs. Residents of the neighborhood have access to a Language Skills Acquisition Program especially for native Spanish speakers. The church also offers an After School Program and the Ellen L. Torres Food Bank.
Frank Murdoch was an important architect in Denver in the late 19th and early 20th century. He was instrumental in establishing the Rocky Mt. Association of Architects in 1890 and served as its first treasurer. In 1891, the Colorado Association of Architects was established and he was again elected treasurer. He was also the superintendent of the State Capitol with an office in the capitol. Murdoch designed homes for John C. Gallup, T.E.Swarz, and the Simon Guggenheim Hall at the Colorado School of Mines.
National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Nomination form January 1978.