Cranmer Park’s historic sundial is looking good as new after an expensive revitalization

The nearly 100-year-old sundial has been through a lot of the last several decades, but these latest renovations should keep the park’s terrace usable for the foreseeable future.

Crowd gathers as people take a look at the recently completed sundial at Cranmer Park. (Allan Tellis/ Denverite)

Crowd gathers as people take a look at the recently completed sundial at Cranmer Park. (Allan Tellis/ Denverite)

Allan Tellis. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Hilltop residents and park lovers gathered Tuesday to celebrate the grand re-opening of Cranmer Park’s terrace and historical sundial.

The neighborhood landmark had fallen into a state of dilapidation, but the city’s recently completed $2 million renovation project is set to keep the plaza up to grade for the next several decades. The reconstruction effort was boosted by the help of an $830,000 donation from the Sun Dial Committee and the Park People.

This renovation project not only restored the sundial but revitalized the sandstone laid terrace with a modern drainage system and reworked engineering that will help sustain it.

“It had challenges. It took us about five years. There were a few years of planning before that, but we had very generous donors from throughout the community, many of whom are here today to celebrate this reopening,” said Denise Sanderson, co-chair of the Save Our Sundial Campaign.

The park and especially the sundial have a significant meaning for many members of the community, according to Kim Yuan-Farrell, director of the Park People.

“It is a wonderful neighborhood park that residents cherish and value as their everyday dog walking and stroller strolling park. It is this wonderful, unique park landmark that just adds to the richness and diversity of Denver’s park experience, and to our city landscape,” Yuan-Farrell said.

A closer look at the recently restored sundial in Cranmer Park. (Allan Tellis/Denverite)

A closer look at the recently restored sundial in Cranmer Park. (Allan Tellis/Denverite)

The plaza has a unique place in Denver’s history

According to Happy Haynes, manager of Denver Parks and Recreation, the terrace was designated under the leadership of George Cranmer, a man responsible for several Denver landmarks, at the turn of the 19th century. The sundial was installed in 1941 on what was, at that moment, the highest point in east Denver, sitting at 5,434 feet.

“We also really appreciate this park because it has a specific tie to George Cranmer, who was a visionary leader in the creation of Denver’s park system. He brought us Winter Park, the Red Rocks Amphitheater, and George Cranmer lived here, on the border of the park, and he personally donated the sundial. So this has a really unique tie to this really important person in parks history in Denver,” Yuan-Farrell said.

This latest effort is not the first time the sundial has needed a makeover. In fact, in 1965, vandals blew the entire thing up with dynamite. Haynes says that residents united to build a new slightly larger sundial using Cranmer’s plans and that overhaul lasted for a couple of decades. In 1992, residents attempted to bring the terrace up to speed again, but those efforts were in danger of being for naught before this latest attempt to renew the terrace for posterity’s sake.

“I remember when we were told this is one of the most endangered historic places in Colorado that just made me feel so sad and sure enough the neighborhood, the community, the parks people got busy on finding a way so we could replace this beautiful plaza,” said Mary Beth Susman, district 5’s councilwoman.