Pop Quiz

Do You Know This Building?

This building is featured in the Do You Know? section of History Colorado’s 2015 March/April issue of Colorado Heritage. Read the full issue here.

You may know that it’s the Stanley Arms Apartments in Denver, but what do you know about one of its most significant residents? Take the quiz, then read the full story below.

What significant woman lived here? When did she live there? What style is the building?
a) Mary Coyle Chase a) 1921–32 a) Brutalist
b) Fannie Mae Duncan b) 1938–53 b) International
c) Golda Meir c) 1954–59 c) Mid-Century Modern
d) Florence Rena Sabin d) 1962–65 d) Mediterranean
The Stanley Arms Apartments in its first year, 1937
Entry way at the Stanley Arms Apartments, 1998
Light detail at the Stanley Arms Apartments, 1998
Windows and brickwork at the Stanley Arms Apartments, 1998
The Stanley Arms Apartments today

Did you guess correctly? Read the history of the building to find out if you were right!

Born in Central City in 1871, (d) Florence Rena Sabin earned a bachelor’s degree from Smith College with the goal of becoming a doctor. She taught in Denver for two years, then at Smith College for another year, earning money to attend Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1896.

While a student, Sabin created a model of an infant brainstem, revealing new information about the brain structure; her model became the basis of a widely used medical textbook. Joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1902, she became the first female full professor in 1917, and in 1925 she was the first woman on staff at the Rockefeller Institute. Dr. Sabin received many honors—often as the first woman to do so—including the 1945 Trudeau Medal of the National Tuberculosis Association for her previous tuberculosis research contributions.

At 67, Sabin retired to Colorado, living with her sister Mary at the new Stanley Arms Apartments from (b) 1938–53. Denver architect Walter Simon designed the 1937 apartment house in the (b) International style with Moderne-style influences. The adjacent garage structure was an unusual feature before World War II.

Sabin’s work continued when Governor John Vivian appointed her as chair of a health subcommittee in 1944. Over Vivian’s objections, she had the American Public Health Association study the state’s health laws, many not updated since 1876. The study revealed that Colorado was among the nation’s highest in infant mortality, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, and other preventable disease rates.

In response to the study, Sabin wrote the laws that became known as the “Sabin Health Laws.” The result was a 50-percent decrease in the number of Colorado tuberculosis patients and a dramatic decrease in infant mortality, along with other improvements such as decreased deaths by preventable disease. A bronze statue of Dr. Sabin sits in the National Statuary Hall; she is one of only two Coloradans honored there. The National Register of Historic Places included Stanley Arms in 1999.

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