The voters have spoken: Justina Ford’s home gets $150,000

The money will go toward restoring the home of Denver’s first black woman doctor.
2 min. read
The Black American West Museum. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Five Points home where Denver’s first black woman doctor cared for thousands of patients is getting $150,000 worth of restoration thanks to its online fans.

The late Justina Ford’s home at 3091 California St., which houses the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center, was among 20 history-rich sites across the country that competed for public attention to get a share of $2 million in preservation funding from American Express. After the online voting ended Thursday, the Ford house came in tenth with 61,320 votes, enough to get the $150,000 it had requested.

Historic Denver wrote the initial application that got the Ford house into the group of 20, and it was the only Colorado site among the finalists.

Terri Gentry, a volunteer docent at the Black American West Museum and a member of its board of directors, had said the money would be used for brickwork and to replace windows.

The 13 top vote-getting sites got money. They included the courthouse building in Monroeville, Ala., where novelist Harper Lee watched her lawyer father defend clients. All the sites were linked to prominent women ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

American Express worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and National Geographic magazine in the grant program known as Partners in Preservation.

Ford had to fight for a medical license after completing training in Chicago in 1899 because of prejudice against blacks and women. In 1902 she moved to Denver, where at the time only a handful of black men and no black women were doctors and only some hospitals would accept black patients. Ford was barred from the Colorado Medical Association and from working in Denver hospitals because of racism. She opened her obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics practice in her home in a neighborhood that was at the heart of African-American life in Denver.

Ford died in 1952 at the age of 81 — two years after she was finally admitted into the Colorado Medical Association.

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