Upscale community in the hills prizes its rural atmosphere and German heritage
History: The colony of Olivenhain started in Denver in 1884 with Theodore Pinther, Conrad Stroebel and five others who recruited members who had to speak German to qualify. Colonists paid an initiation fee, a membership fee and monthly dues and in return would get five acres and a house and the use of community property, such as horses, wagons and agricultural machinery. A few months later, 67 colonists headed for Rancho Las Encinitas, which Pinther and Stroebel bought with the membership dues. Soon the members realized that Pinther cheated them in the land deal and the idea of the colony fell apart. Although many left, some stayed, and a permanent community evolved.
How it got its name: The original colonists decided on the name Olivenhain, German for “olive grove.”
Landmarks: The Olivenhain Meeting Hall, built in 1885 and the site of countless Saturday night dances, picnics, and celebrations, is still the heart of the community. The grounds around the hall also house the Germania Hotel, the largest structure of the original colonist, although it was never used as a hotel.
Things to do: The community celebrates its German heritage with an annual Oktoberfest.
Notable locals: Oscar-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss lives here. He runs a civics initiative, as he puts it, “to teach our kids how to run our country… if we don’t, someone else will run our country.”
Did you know? Many streets bear the names of first German settlers: Bumann Road, Cole Ranch Road, Teten Way and Wiegand Street.
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