On the south edge of the lake, near the boat dock, there’s a large sign that explains the history of the Lake. The sign reads, “Sloan’s Lake, A Lake Surrounded by a Park”. Much of this history comes from the sign at the park and research from the Denver Public Library.

The lake was created when in 1861, farmer Thomas Sloan was digging a well to irrigate his land, a parcel of dry prairie. As he was digging, he tapped into a water aquifer that grew 200 acres overnight and formed a new body of water.  As news spread and gawkers came to see this new body of water, it was jokingly called, “Sloan’s Leak”. Thomas Sloan sold the farm in 1872, and in 1908, the park was purchased by the city as part of mayor Robert Speer’s City Beautiful Movement. Finally in 1985, the land in front of Lake Middle School was acquired as part of the park, making it 295 acres in total. Since the early days, Sloan’s Leak (or Lake!) has become a park known for recreational activities and gatherings that revolve around this large body of water.

Henry Lee is another important figure in the story of Sloan’s Lake. Lee, a farmer from Iowa who settled in Denver in the 1860s, was a state representative and senator and is known for fathering the Denver Parks system. Lee is also sadly remembered for being the first pedestrian to be killed by an automobile in 1914.

One of my favorite homes in the area is Lee’s family house, a Victorian now called the ‘Henry Lee House’. It was recently remodeled by John F Reilly, and the remodel kept many historical elements like the doors, stained glass and arched windows, intricate wood trim, stairwell, fireplace and floors. The home is a six bedroom, six bathroom, 4,000 square foot house with two kitchens, two living rooms, a formal dining room and a beautiful yard that, up until a recent sale, functioned as an event space for weddings and other celebrations.


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