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Denver's Five Points Looking To Thrive Once Again

(CBS4) - Denver's Five Points is more than just another historical landmark. For Terri Gentry, it's about highlighting her personal connection to the community.

"It's about my family history. It's about my neighbors and the community and all the richness of the diversity and brilliance," Gentry said.

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"It's celebrating the beauty of us. We have so many amazing people that are a part of the story here."

Gentry serves as a volunteer at the Black West American Museum and Heritage Center. She takes visitors on tours throughout the area, detailing how life would have been for people living there in the previous century.

"You could come down here on a Sunday afternoon, after church and everybody's dressed up for church and then comes down here between 1-2 o'clock and just fill up this space," Gentry said.

That space was filled with everything from shops to restaurants, hotels and the sounds from the best jazz musicians.

"They would perform in our community and stay at the Rossonian (hotel), or they might stay with Mr. George Morrison and his home. But they contributed so much that we were called Harlem of the West."

Today, new construction surrounds the Historic Cultural District. From the Rossonian Hotel, which has stood strong since 1912, to the Deep Rock Water Building founded in 1896. Historic markers are placed at several buildings in Five Points, like the Atlas Drug Store, which was the only white-owned drug store in Denver, which African Americans could sit at the soda fountain.

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One place that has seen the changes at Five Points is Franklin Stiger's Afro Styling Barber Shop. Stiger, has given out haircuts and shape ups for the last 50 years. Working with a beautician to make sure everyone left his shop looking their best.

"They've taken care of that part and I take care of the barbering. Worked out nice," Stiger said. "Everybody seemed to be happy, you know. And that's the main thing."

Five Points as seen many changes throughout the years as people have moved from the inner city to the suburbs.

"70s, 80s, and early 90s a lot of people started moving out, so the businesses were not supported like they were in the past. So, that's kind of heartbreaking," Gentry said.

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Even with the challenges and changes in the community, Terri is confident the Five Points Business District will thrive once again.

"I continue to hope that we have young folks that learn this history and learn their own capacities and capabilities so that they can aspire to do the same things and be the same people that their ancestors were."


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