By Joel Newton
Did you know that there is a ghost town right behind Casa Bonita known as Spivak? Ever wondered why the shopping center, now known as Lamar Station Plaza, was formerly known as JCRS? Behind the grounds and buildings of Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD) lies a story of the Jewish community and their deep desire to care for those who were struggling against tuberculosis.
The Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society (JCRS) was founded in 1904 as a sanatorium to treat patients with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis was the top killer of Americans at the turn of 20th century and doctors believed that the fresh air and sunshine of Colorado could help fight the disease. Even Doc Holliday of Tombstone fame sought the sun of Colorado in hopes it would cure his tuberculosis.
Dr. Charles Spivak and Dr. Philip Hillkowitz, both Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, were the early leaders of the society in Lakewood. JCRS was located north of Colfax Avenue from Pierce Street to Kendall Street. The campus grew to 148 acres and included 34 buildings with its own post office, synagogue and dairy farm. Throughout its 50-year history, JCRS provided free tuberculosis treatment for over 10,000 people
With the growth of antibiotics, tuberculosis ceased to be a widespread health crisis and so in 1954 the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society changed its focus to cancer research and became known as the American Medical Center.
In 1957, the property from Pierce Street to Kendall Street that sat on the north side of Colfax was sold to become the JCRS Shopping Center where Casa Bonita would open in 1974. In 2002, Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design purchased the JCRS campus north of the shopping center. Finally, in 2014, Broad Street Realty purchased most of the JRCS Shopping Center and renamed it Lamar Station Plaza, reflecting the name of the RTD’s West Rail Line stop at Lamar Street.