Arvada's Century: Incorporation and the Provision of Municipal Services

In the early days between 1870 and 1904, Arvada had no sewage or water system, no organized fire or police protection, no electricity . . . . in short, Arvada had no town government.

On April 22, 1903, leaders of the town met to discuss incorporation. Dr. Richard Russell, who had moved to Arvada in 1902, asked his friend Dr. Henry Buchtel, Chancellor of the University of Denver, to make a speech. The meeting was chaired by the Reverend John F. White, former Methodist minister. After heated discussion, those present voted to support incorporation and an election was held May 27, 1903. Incorporation was defeated.

A second election was held November 10, 1903. Again incorporation was defeated.

A third election was held on July 26, 1904 and the vote for incorporation passed 159 to 62!

Articles of Incorporation for the Town of Arvada, population 600, were filed on August 24, 1904. The town boundaries were Ralston Road to the north, Carr Street to the west, 54th Street to the south, and Lamar Street to the east. The elected Town Board began meeting in September: Dr. Richard Russell, Mayor and Trustees Morton Alexander, W.L. Jeffryes, John F. White, F.S. Bobb, H.P. Benson, and Gibbs West.

The new town board quickly awarded franchises to provide for the installation of electric and telephone lines. They hired a Town Marshall to keep order, eliminate farm animals and cats and dogs from the streets, and supervise the water ditches. The Town Board moved into a vacant building east of Wadsworth Avenue on Grand View Avenue. They rented space for $15 a month, finally purchasing the building in 1914. This building served as City Hall for 67 years until a new City Hall was built in 1971 at 8101 Ralston Road.

On April 8, 1951, Arvada, population 2,539, achieved the status of second class city. The Town Board was now called a City Council and the Trustees became Councilmen or Councilwomen. The first City Manager was hired in 1961.