While enjoying a stroll through our fair town to get some fresh air and savor the flowers, residents have noticed a new bench on Chase Street. The bench was placed in honor of a previous long-term mayor, who lived at the property where the bench has been placed. Russell Lyon served the town of Mountain View from 1950 to 1984 – nine terms, all told. He had also been a council member before that, and worked at Gates Rubber Company.
His house on Chase Street was built in 1938, using a team of horses to dig the basement. In his long career, he earned many honors and lauds from the wider Denver metro and Jefferson County community. His active participation in the Colorado Municipal League, helped to produce a debt-free town. Also, during his tenure, Mountain View became connected to Denver Water and Sewage, which afforded sufficient water use for the community.
In an article featured in the Denver Post in April of 1970, Lyon stated “Smallness has been no handicap… we get full consideration from the Colorado Municipal League.” At that time, Mountain View was the only municipality in the area that had paved alleys; this was made possible with help from the county and a door-to-door collection, according to historical documents.
“We’re sitting here kind of smug,” Lyon said. “Denver has nothing to offer us and neither do any of the surrounding cities.” Apparently, even back then, there were rumors that some Mountain View residents wanted to join the big new neighbor, Wheat Ridge, which had just recently been incorporated as a town. The court system in Mountain View was also mentioned, calling it “folksy and fair.”
From then until now, Mountain View continues to enjoy its independence as a town, having had its start in the late 1800s. Lyon spoke of Mountain View’s “split personality,” with two busy commercial strips (Sheridan and 44th) surrounding a core of quiet, tree-lined residential streets. Such a model is the current goal of community minded city planners.
Mayor Lyon was featured in a number of Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News articles, as well as community newspapers including Lakewood. The writings spoke of historical town features and attributed them to Lyon’s leadership, noting the financial and political stability of the town.
One of the more interesting news events that occurred while Lyon served on the city council (1942) had to do with a restaurant called The New York Café (Rocky Mountain News, July, 1984). It was a 3.2 place, which meant that it could stay open later than other bars. Such hours attracted shady, riotous conduct; soldiers showed up late, amongst others with taxis flowing in and out of Mountain View at all hours. Theft became a top concern, and it was discovered that the bar was actually a front run by mobsters. The town council decided to physically march down to the bar and remove the liquor license from the wall. And so they did.
Catherine Colwell is a Town of Mountain View Council Member and Chair of the Historical Mountain View Committee.
Historical Mountain View Committee
The Historical Mountain View Committee meets monthly to sort Town Hall’s collection of historical documents and catalog them, sharing stories with the town occasionally. Dates and times of meetings are posted, and the public is invited. Community members who are interested in learning more can reach Council Member Catherine Colwell by emailing her at CColwell@tomv.org.