Photograph of Community College of Denver 1968-1969 catalog, FRCC Archive Collection, College Hill Library, Westminster, CO

The Early Years

From the years 1968 to 1977, the Community College of Denver-North (CCDN) held classes in a variety of locations and temporary structures (for more information on how CCDN became FRCC, check out FRCC Celebrates 50 Years).

After some initial planning for a new location to accommodate the immense growth of the college in the early 1970s, the college chose 112th Avenue in Westminster as the site for a future campus. In the fall of 1977, the staff and students finally moved to a permanent location where the Westminster Campus resides today.

Photograph of The Solar Times newspaper, July 29, 1977, Box 7, FRCC Archive Collection, College Hill Library Archives, Westminster, Colorado.

Goodbye, Tin City

The employees and students in those early days of temporary campuses faced difficulty in obtaining classroom furniture, favorable air quality in the buildings, and suitable parking and transportation, so the move to the new facility was exciting for nearly everyone. Students shared their excitement over the move to new building, proclaiming “Goodbye Tin City!” in their student newspaper, recently re-titled The Solar Times, and shared some of the things they looked forward to most about the move, including a new gymnasium, swimming pool, and improved parking.

Though some shared concerns over the geographical move farther north and the change in campus culture that the extra elbow room brought, many students said the new building was more aesthetically appealing than the years of residence in a “trailer court” and other temporary locations. One writer claimed the college “has finally hit the big time.”

Hello, Solar Campus

Photograph of The Solar Campus publication, Box 7, FRCC Archive Collection, College Hill Library Archives, Westminster, Colorado.

After a group of engineers and architects developed a plan to build a dynamic and innovative campus in Westminster, officials broke ground in 1974. Bob Kula, the school’s director of planning, and John Anderson, the primary architect, led the state-of-the-art project to design a building to accommodate the needs of CCDN while leading in innovation with alternative solar-powered heating and cooling systems. Upon completion, the building was the nation’s largest solar heated building, and was the topic of news articles and inspired conversation across the nation.

The new building served as not only a college campus, but also a beacon for hope for sustainable and renewable energy industries across the country. President Jimmy Carter even referred to it in his Remarks at the Solar Energy Research Institute in 1978. According to Carter, who led the nation in a campaign to eliminate dependency on foreign oil through the development of local renewable energy sources, CCDN’s campus was an example of how Coloradans led the way in solar energy development.

One year later, in 1979, Carter announced the installation of solar panels on the White House roof. Those panels, like the ones on the new college building, provided renewable energy for heated water and indoor climate control. As the years went on and technologies and policies changed, both the solar panels of the college and the panels of the White House faced removal.

Expansion and Renovation

One thing that does not seem to change is that the Westminster campus is constantly evolving to meet student and community needs. A series of renovations in 1994 and 1997 created student focused centers and spaces that addressed the growing administrative needs to lead a growing college.

Photograph from The Front Page newspaper, Feb. 23 1994, Box 7, FRCC Archive Collection, College Hill Library, Westminster, CO

In 1995, FRCC collaborated with the City of Westminster to begin a library project on the west wing of the campus. Over the years since the opening in 1998, College Hill Library has held many valuable collections, including an archive of the documents from the Rocky Flats Site until the DOE removed the documents in 2008.

The library consistently expanded its offerings and instructional services and serves as a hub for information, research, and instruction today. In the last decade, the campus embarked on a major renovation to nearly the entire campus to modernize spaces and create inner neighborhoods of departments that are more accessible for students.

Just as our communities are ever evolving and growing, the Westminster Campus has evolved over the past four decades to meet the needs of those growing communities.

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