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Cheeseman Park – Denver, CO


I attended Cheeseman Academy from 1st grade through 6th. My class was the last to graduate from the school, in fact.

Cheeseman Academy was situated on the fringe of Cheeseman Park. It was housed in a glorious old brownstone mansion. It had started out as a girl’s school, complete with dormitories, in the early 1900s. I’m not sure when it became a co-ed private school, but a woman named Ms. Miller owned and ran it for years and years. She died when I was in 5th grade I believe. Maybe 4th. Her son and his wife took over the school when I was in 6th grade, then decided it was too much, the building was too old and needed too much upkeep, enrollment was dropping so…they opted to shut it down.


For a long time I used to have horrible dreams featuring Cheeseman Academy. Dreams not inspired by terrible teachers or bullies I had to contend with, but just by the feeling I sometimes got while at the school. Sometimes it was just a plain spooky place to be.

I’d dream about a malevolent spirit. One that lived up in the attic, a place that in real life students were rarely allowed to go. When we were, it was always in the presence of a teacher, never by ourselves. It would torment me in my dreams…fly down at me as I was walking upstairs, stalk me in the gym, make me not want to be left alone in certain classrooms… I loved attending the school when I was little, but I sure wasn’t always happy to dream about it.

I had the dreams on and off until Cheeseman was finally torn down sometime in the ’90s. I haven’t dreamt of the school since then..nor of the ghost.


At one point, Cheeseman was the old city cemetery. Mt. Prospect Cemetery was its name. In 1890 an Act of Congress mandated that this parcel of property was not supposed to be used for a cemetery but was supposed to be a park. Bodies were removed –paid for by relatives if they could afford it and were wanting to claim family members.

However, in the area known as Potter’s Field , where the poor and indecent were buried, who was there to pay for their removal? The city of course. And they paid a man named E.P. McGovern $1.90 a body.

But McGovern had to use children’s caskets because a bad mining accident in Utah created a shortage of adult caskets. But since adult bodies wouldn’t fit in the children’s caskets, he sized them to fit. As you might expect, some discrepancies in billing resulted.

The health commissioner of the time decided to halt further removal of bodies and to seal the land. Some now wonder if this sealed the fate of the park that was to come…


Sine Cheeseman Academy resided on the edge of the park, we were there almost every day. (Winter excluded.) But on nice fall and spring afternoons it was the rule not the exception to go for an outing to the park.

Some have reported strange feelings or interactions while in the park. Such as laying on the grass and feeling like they couldn’t get up, like something was holding them down. I never felt anything while I was in the park…only while I was in the school.

And others who live in the houses or condos and apartments that line the park have felt similar things. Some have been more friendly than the ghost who inhabited my dreams, but some have provided quite a shock.


Cheeseman Park is located between E. 8th Ave and E. 13th Ave and Race St. and Humboldt St.


  • Cheeseman Park’s history was partly the inspiration for the movie Poltergeist.
  • The Denver Botanic Gardens is also by the park. Because the DBG was also erected over the old cemetery, some people have reported experiencing paranormal activity there too. In fact, an old coffin and remains was recently unearthed when the DBG started construction on a parking garage.


Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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89 thoughts on “Cheeseman Park – Denver, CO

  1. OOh, interesting post! And “resized the bodies to fit….” gave me absolute shudders. Gak!

  2. I attended the predecessor school, Peter Pan to Cheesman Park Academy. I was one of the half-dozen boys admitted as day students in @ 1944-45, to be company for Jay Miller as he went through school. My family was using the school in place of daycare, which didn’t exist in those days. My mother had a job in local industry. I remember many of the boys and girls I went to school with as well as most of the faculty, and I still appreciate ballet and French more than most.The extensive ed in the arts served as a foundation for much of the rest of my life. Today, on an impulse, I googled Peter Pan School Denver, and there it was.

  3. Oh wow, Neil! I knew of the Peter Pan School. They still used some of the curriculum even when I first started there! And Jay Miller ended up taking over the last year I was there, right before they closed it down. I was the last “graduating” class. So this was really interesting to know you were in the first class when it turned co-ed. And then I was in the outgoing. What history! I’m so glad you stopped by with comments!

  4. Courtney, I have some real interest in finding out what happened after I left. It would have been1946 I believe. I would love to have a picture of the place. I can remember bits and pieces. I’d like to find some of the other boys, if there are any. Any additional info you might have or direct me to will be greatly appreciated! Regards, Neil Monroe, Asheville, NC

  5. Hey Neil, I have one old photo of the place. Sort of. It’s more of a drawing that is in one of my old year books. I’ll see if I can find any other info. I am curious about the place myself. It had a hold didn’t it? Neat school. If I dig anything up I’ll get in touch.

  6. Yo Courtney!
    Thank you so much for your efforts.
    I can remember several names of the other boys: Jay, himself, was the most memorable! Is he still around? It would be fun to see if he remembers me. But then, I can’t expect much. It’s been a very long time. Sixty-five years. I would like to check out my memories of our “hot” French and piano teacher Ms. Conrad, or the motherly Ms.Lamb. Ms.Enzer grabbed me by the seat of the pants, and taught me how to rollerskate in the back yard in front of the garage. (carriage house?) We used to go over to the park to play. I have the most intense memory of the day when my mom was interviewed by Maude to see if I might be admitted. I remember a parlor there that had a glass case with the most wonderful trinkets in it. And Maude was a class act! I have a case like the one in the parlor in my office/playroom now in memory of the experience.
    I also remember the annual program we did in the auditorium at the Museum of Natural History. I remember waiting among the butterflies and moths to go on stage! The ways the Peter Pan experience affected me have been profound.
    I’m a pretty usual sort of guy. I’m a clinical social worker in private practice in Asheville, NC. Occasionally I have apprised others about my time at Peter Pan, but I’m not sure anyone believed me. It was too Gothic! 🙂 The dancing lessons,piano lessons, readings, etc. set me up for a life in which I have really enjoyed the arts. I still remember the last names of all the presidents that I learned in kdg. Not surprisingly, the list stops at Truman! I went to HS in NYC, so the city served as the place where all I had gotten at Peter Pan came into focus.I was extraordinarily blessed to have had the experience in my background. I’m sad it is gone. I’m glad I could tell you about it!
    My children range in age from 48 to 15, and I am trying to get a trip together for my 15 yr old to go to Colo. this summer. I haven’t been back since 1973. I’d love for him to see the park, etc.
    Thanks for helping me with a flood of wonderful old memories! And yes, If you can get a picture, I’d be forever in your debt! Regards, Neil

  7. OMG! I have memories of performing in the Natural History Museum too and the butterfly room!!!!!!!!!!! WOW! Did that bring back memories. I had forgotten about that. They stopped doing that when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade tho. And then it wasn’t too many years later they closed entirely.

    I was there from the late 1970s until 1982 I want to say. And you’re SO right. Gothic is a perfect word to describe it. You’ve really inspired me to want to do a documentary on Cheeseman Academy/Peter Pan School. I have yet to meet anyone who went there who wasn’t affected by the place. In good ways. (Maybe some had bad times, but pretty much it was quite the place.)

    And speaking of Maude and what a character she was…did she give you all one marshmallow too? She would line us up in rows and pop a marshmallow individually in each kid’s mouth.

    Don’t know if Jay is still around. I will look him up. Maybe he will have some pictures of the place.


  9. I can’t believe it!!!! I’m writing up some of my childhood memories and googled Peter Pan School just for the heck of it, never realizing I’d actually find anything. Courtney and Neil, you brought back so many memories. I’ll add a few of my own. Neil, I was there when you were. I was called Jeanie back then–in fact, all the way through CU. I was actually a boarding student for part of my stay at Peter Pan. My mother was a single parent and worked five and a half days a week. She came to pick me up on Saturday noon and I went back on Sunday. I was four and five years old in my Peter Pan days. I remember sleeping way up in the top of the house in a big dormitory. Liver and lima beans and ham were in the meal plan way too often for me. I don’t know if it was because they were supposed to be good for us or because it was wartime and they didn’t send liver to the troops! I remember going to the park every day and making clover necklaces. Our parents could drop off candy, which got doled out after dinner. A favorite was Russell Stover stick candy. We’d get one stick a day, and everybody tried to make it last as long as possible. We’d sit in the swings in the play yard behind the house and suck them down to a point. It was kind of a contest to see who could get the sharpest point. When I was five I got to go home at night, so I became a day student. My mom and I would ride the bus. I’d get off, look both ways, cross the street, and go up to the school. You had to ring the doorbell to be let in. My mom would stay on the bus and ride the rest of the way downtown to work. I would love to have a picture, too, Courtney, if you can come up with one.

  10. It continues to amaze me how this develops. I’ve had trouble posting for some reason, but will try again.
    I have remembered a few names also. There was Forrest, Charles, Murray, Jay, yours truly, and there may have been others. Most of the girls I knew were in the upper grades. You know, “The BIG GIRLS!” Among them were Beverly and Gilda. They were friendly and hung out by the swings.
    A real fond memory is of the big “cave” that was under the side stairs. Three or four of us could fit in the cave. A common activity was to make artifacts out of mud to donate to the Museum. We at PP were community-oriented even before it was cool. Who knows how many alumnae we might stir up. I’ll keep an eye open too, if this posts. Regards, Neil

  11. Hi Jean! Wow, adding to the group. How exciting! You brought back another memory. We used to make clover necklaces too!!!!!!! And the swings….there were two playgrounds as I recall when I went. One in the courtyard and another smaller one (very small) kind of on the side of the house. But it was pretty much off limits/not used. Everyone gathered i the other one when we didn’t actually head over to the park, which of course we all prefered to do.

    Also, you both might be interested to know another Cheeseman alum found this post and your comments. But like you Neil she had trouble posting also. But she sent me an email. Here’s what she recalled of her time there:

    “It was interesting to hear from others who attended the school. I attended from Kindergarten to 4th grade 1962-1967. I just drove past the park yesterday which prompted me to google the school. I have done so before and got nothing. If it comes through I sent you a pic of the front of my report card from 1967. I remember walking to the park playing “step on a crack and break your mother’s back” so oddly enough I remember well the old red, uneven, cracked sidewalk with the makers stamp on it; playing in the park; the skinny, steep, back staircase that went to the kitchen (i think), the spring play at the history museum (I have pictures) and our Christmas concert was televised at one of the local television stations. The school was torn down years ago and replaced with a luxury condo highrise. Such a shame. I found Peter Pan on but the picture is not at all what I remember but that could be my memory. It was an old brownstone. I would love to know more about the history of the house, but I can’t find anything.”

    I’m so happy we’ve all found each other and shared these great memories. You’ve all brought back some really wonderful memories I hadn’t realized I’d had stowed away!

  12. This is great! I love stirring up these old memories. I have lived in Wisconsin for 40 years. I still get back to Colorado a couple of times a year, but I haven’t been down 13th Avenue for a long time. When I went to Peter Pan in the mid-1940’s I think it consisted only of the old brownstone. Later, when it was called Cheesman Academy, I think there was a newer addition on it.

  13. wow dancing with ms Conway, singing with ms parsons and art ms Grisom. I left long before the son took over and we had classes up in the attic the 6th grade was on the 3rd floor my last year there. summer was spent swimming, horseback riding and baton lessons. Do you remember the food, the bread with the brown gravy? And yes the 5 part harmony and the plays at the history museum. The trampolines and the tall scary lady that watched us after school ms Velde. this was all in the late 60’s to about 74. Oh yea and the assistant principal Mrs Mitchell.

  14. Johnna…you must’ve been there right before me. I probably started in 1976. Ms. Grisom, Purple Parson, Ms. Mitchell…knew them all! Don’t remember a Ms. Velde though. She sounds like she would’ve terrified me. Remember the tramps. And you totally reminded me of summer camp! I had a horse that sat in the middle of the creek we were crossing once. I was so terrified. I just held on tight and hoped he’d decided to get moving again.

    Did you also get the marshmallows? That’s the memory that cracks me up most now. Ms. Miller would come around and pop a single marshmallow in all our mouths. Usually a stale, hard one. Ick! I don’t remember brown gravy. It sounds like something if you had it you never forget it.

    THANKS so much for adding to the memory bank!

  15. I just found my 1946 Peter Pan report card from grade 1B. It has a drawing of Peter Pan on the front. The teacher was Margery Krieg. I was only there for two grading periods before moving to my grandparents’ and going to Mountair School on West Colfax, which has also vanished without a trace.

  16. Oh wow. You’ve yet again jogged another memory. Maybe it was something in Ms. Mitchells’ (the vice principal when I went to Cheeseman) office or something else hanging on a wall somewhere in the bdlg, but I remember a drawing of Peter Pan. I knew the school had been named that even when I went there, but you reminded me of documentation I’d seen. Weird memory flashback!

    Never heard of that other school. Funny. Maybe their alum would say the same about us!

  17. It was great running across this blog.

    I attended Cheesman Academy all through the sixties from kindergarten through the sixth grade. The operettas were fantastic. I think I still have all the printed programs for each year. How many of us fondly remember that Butterfly room at the Museum? Phipps Auditorium, I think it’s an IMAX theater now. My appreciation for the Arts was definitely inspired by that school.

    The oil painting of Peter Pan was at the top of the first flight of stairs to the second floor. Alot of the classroom doors had colorful oil paintings; I think they were oil paintings. The Fawns, the Squirrels, the Cubs. Echo Lake, Lookout Mtn, Pike’s Peak, Long’s Peak, Big Horn, Aspen, Columbine, Lark Bunting, etc.

    I remember Miss Velde, and many of the other women mentioned. Mrs. Bowl would show her pictures of her summer travels in the fall when school started up again after summer break. I especially remember her trip to Greece and the pictures she had to share with us.

    The green, green grass of the whole park laid out on a sunny spring day before the third floor window of the Pike’s Peak room. Or was that the Long’s Peak room? I can remember the view like it was yesterday but not the name of the room for sure. Funny how some things stick with you forever.

    The whole school gathered in the auditorium to watch the various Apollo flights and the moon landing on that big old black and white TV.

    Several of my cousins also went there through the fifties and early sixties. My sister was the last of our extended family to graduate from there.

    Great times!

    We drove by there one day after they had closed the school. Me, my sister and a friend went to the Miller’s house across the street and asked the man who answered the door if we could go through the school. I don’t remember who he was. He was more than happy to take us through it. All the rooms looked so small and the hallways so narrow, not at all like I remembered as a child.

    I drove by several years later and it was all gone. The mansion next door was still there though.

  18. Dale, you’re so lucky! That’s the thing I mourn most about it being all gone now. I only have the memories. I can never go back and see it through my adult eyes. I bet it would look and feel so much smaller.

    The butterfly room is such a big memory for so many of us! So funny. I remember the Pike’s Peak room. Was there a Long’s Peak room? If so…how did I forget that? The views from those rooms…I think it might’ve been Pike’s Peak with a view of the park..were neat. I remember in 5th grade looking out the window as Denver had a mild earthquake. I couldn’t figure out why the bricks were moving outside. Weirdest thing I’d ever seen until that point of my life. Or walking through the park after Mount St. Helens exploded and seeing ash on some of the dumpsters. Crazy! And your memories are of watching the Apollo missions. That is SO neat!

    Every time someone comments it brings back more memories. THANKS so much for stopping by and sharing yours!

  19. I also attended Cheseman Academy for their final years. Iwas in 2nd grade when they were forced to close. I remeber that we were allowed to take something with us on the last day. It could have been anything. I remeber piano lessons and i could have even had that piano in the music room. I chose the front desk garbage can that had a map of the world on it. It was a really cool looking antique trash can. I gazed at it every morning when i came in to school. I lost it in college but still remeber it and all my fond memories of our small school. I love this site and will continue to check it. I am curious about alumni and see what great things they have accomplished. It was a very intelligent and special school.

  20. Craig, I am so sorry I took so long to reply to your comment. You and I attended at the same time! I was in 6th grade and the last class to “graduate” when they closed. That is so cool you took something. I didn’t. Wish I would’ve taken a picture of it inside and out. That’s what I would’ve liked to take away from the place! It’s so neat that it’s clearly affected (positively) so many of us. We all have fond memories. I think it’d be hard not to. I don’t remember anyone ever being bullied or anything like so many other schools deal with. They nipped that stuff pretty quick and kept us all focused on being good to each other and doing our studies. (I did harass a girl named Bonnie one year. I hate to admit it, and I’ve always felt bad about it, but boy did I get in trouble for it!) But that was the beauty of Cheeseman…they knew how to keep kids in check. So glad you left the comment like you did.

  21. I attended Peter Pan for 1st thru half of 3rd. Still have my grade cards. Remember Mrs. Thompson for 3rd Grade, and used to know 1st and 2nd. Remember being in Tinker Belle classroom. There was a – was it – Mrs. Pearson that did music? I went back thru in the 70s and said hi and I believe Mrs Miller was still there. Also later and took pictures after it closed. What a wonderful place to go to school.

  22. Hi Scott! THANKS so much for stopping by with your memories and comments! Do you have any of those pics you could share? I know we’d all love to see the place. I could post them on here even. How wonderful it would be to see the place again!

    And Jean I will be emailing you. I’d like to see a copy of that.

  23. I was working on Geneology and suddenly remembered Peter Pan School and did a search. Great to find you here. I attended PPS from ’54 to ’60. My grandmother Mrs. Scott was the cook when I was there and for some time before. I have my graduating class photo taken on the front stairway somewhere in my family records. So sad it was torn down. I think Mrs. Miller had some connection to Walt Disney. I remember she went to the opening of Disneyland and brought me back a mouse ear hat with my name on it, which I still have. She was also related, I think Sister, to Duke Wellington Dunbar, Atty General of Colorado from ’51 to ’72.

    Another factoid: Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss America 1958 also went to PPS.

    Speaking of spooky. Stephen King wrote “The Changeling” about a story in Denver. Part of it took place in another mansion a block or two west of the school.

    I am on Facebook and would love to hear from any other

  24. I was just reading the post from Dale about the room names. When I attended and it was still Peter Pan School, all the room names were Disney characters. There was Captain Hook to the right at the top of the front stairs, I think Never Never Land was at the back on the second floor and Tinker Bell. Also there was Pirates Den. When Mrs. MIller died the rights to use the Disney names died with her, that is why the name changed to Cheesman.

    Since my Grandmother was the cook. I would sneek down in the back stairs at nap time with my friend Kent. We would hide under the pantry shelf and she would bring us a cookie and milk. We thought we were really getting away with something but I’m sure everyone knew.

  25. Hi Bill! Welcome to the informal Cheeseman/Peter Pan reunion!

    THANKS for sharing your great memories. But Mrs. Miller was still alive and there when I attended and it was called Cheeseman at that time. She did die when I was there though. But it’d be super neat if she did somehow have the rights to use those names. I remember them in conjunction with something about the school, though I can’t recall if it was classrooms or what. But I remember Tinker Bell being on something…I can see it in my mind’s eye but can’t bring into focus.

    That is SO cool your grandma was the cook there too. I LOVED whenever we got to go through the kitchen and up the back stairs, which was hardly ever. I just thought it was a magnificent kitchen.

    Anyway…thanks again for stopping by to add in the neat memories and connections you have to PPS/CA!

  26. I attented Peter Pan School as a kindergarden student in 1951/1952. I remember Maude Miller very well. Each year we put on an operetta at Phipps Auditorium (now called Imax Theater). I am trying without much luck to dig up info on the school. I have an older brother and a cousin whom also attended the school. Please feel free to email me or send this on to anybody else. I am Jim. my email is

  27. HI Jim! I’m trying desperately to dig up more info too. When I come across some I’ll be sure to pass it on to you as well. THANKS so much for sharing your memories of the school and joining the alum slowly gathering here.

  28. I attended Peter Pan School for 3 years, 1955 or 56 thru 1958 or 59. I have a newspaper article from 1982 about the closing of the school.

  29. I attended in 1955 or 56 thru 1958 or 59. My name then was Linda Kopp.

  30. You do? WOW! That would be awesome to see. Anyway you can scan and email to me at
    ? If it’s too much trouble no worries. Would just be neat to see.

  31. Jean! I went to Peter Pan School for Girls from age 3 to through the 6th grade. I would have been there from 1941 to 49. I boarded there and continuated (that’s what Mrs. Miller called it) from the 6th grade with 2 other girls: Gladys Scott and Mary Anne Sweeney. I would LOVE to find these girls. My memories of all those years as a boarding student are only good ones. Mr. Duffy was our custodian and tucked us in at night, sometimes he put an orange or an apple under our pillow. I had the name “Peanut” and Mrs. Endsor always drew a Peanut on my pillow case when we were issued new bed linens. I’ve had Peter Pan and my school mates on my heart so I googled it today and low and behold read Courney’s interesting article. I still have a brochure of Peter Pan with a reasonably good picture of the beautiful old brownstone. We were in Denver with our sons the week before they tore it down.  Someone sent me an article about Maude Miller and I went to Denver just to see her. I was a bit fearful at encountering a stern woman who must have (in my mind) stood about 6 feet tall, but when she walked out of the elevator, she hit me about under my nose!  Fond, fond memories, fabulous education and I vividly remember waiting in the “bug and insects room” at Phillps Auditorim to go on for our Operetas there.

  32. Courtney! I have an excellent copy of the picture of Peter Pan that was on the cover of the beautiful Brochure Mrs. Miller published. I’ll find it and send it to you.
    Shelley Berglund Resnick

  33. Hi Bill: I attended Peter Pan School much earlier than you did; but have amazing memories and stories of that magical place. I was a boarding school student there in the 40’s and have been trying to locate my two classmates that graduated with me from the 6th grade: Mary Anne Sweeney and Gladys Scott.  When I went to Peter Pan we actually went to the Governor’s inauguration because of Mrs. Miller’s relation to Duke Dunbar. I remember it well because I almost fainted in the crush of all the people there, and she saw it coming and simply said to me, “Don’t even think of fainting here.”  So I didn’t, somehow.  Do you know when Marilyn Van Derbur was at PPS? I knew here at East High School. She was a year or two ahead of me. I would love to see your graduating class photo if you ever dig it out some time.
    I am on facebook as Shelley Resnick (maiden name was Berglund)

  34. I so remember that stick candy, Jean. Honey Suckle sticks I think they called them and they kept them in the kitchen in jars with our names on them and gave them out. I remember seeing how long we could make them last and how sharp a point we could suck them to. Isn’t it hilarious the things you recall when you’re older? Did you ever stand and twist colored crepe paper streamers into ropes and then clue them onto jars to make pretty gift jars?  Mrs. Miller put one of mine in the beautiful glass fronted display case in that gorgeous entry hall with the deep rose brocade on the walls all the way up the stair case.  Though she only had one boy, I think Maude Miller had a deep concern for what I’ll call “war waifs” whose mom’s were left to single parent and had to work to support themselves and pay our tuition.  Mind worked as a forelady at Remington Arms inspecting bullets to send overseas–graveyard, so I lived at Peter Pan and went home just one weekends, but not every weekend. I too road the bus to 1275 High Street. We lived in an apartment at 900 Sherman in those days. Such fun memories.

  35. Neil–somehow we must of met because the teachers you mention were there when I was there. Miss Enzer was actually married at Peter Pan–I got to go to the wedding. Do you remember Honey Crieg and Rosy Crieg (we called them “Honey Creek & Rosey Creek).  I memorized the Presidents and can still say them and yes, mine stop at Truman as well. We learned french and spanish, tap, toe and ballet, piano and performed readings (mine was about Louisa May Alcott and I can almost remember the first paragraph.)  If you send me your e-mail I’ll send you a picture copied from the lovely brochure Mrs. Miller did. Blessings! Shelley

  36. Shelley, the picture you sent is more appreciated than you know. YES, it is a wonderful picture. EXACTLY how I see the school in my mind’s eye even! Except, with better details. Some of my memories are fading. You have no idea how thankful I am you took the time to send the picture. MUCH OBLIGED!!!!!!!!!

  37. Hey, you ended up going to East for H.S.? ME TOO!!!! A fellow Angel to boot. Very cool, Shelley! (And I can SO see Mrs. Miller telling you not to faint! That’s how I remember her. Hard and no nonsense. She scared me!)

  38. I’m so jealous of you who got to board there and live in that magical school. They had stopped that by the time I went there, but it was a BIG deal to get to go up on the floors and in the rooms where they had boarded the kids. I used to imagine what it would’ve been like and wished I’d have gotten to experience that. You all have so many wonderful memories and I’m tickled absolutely pink that you’ve shared them like you have!

  39. I just received a paperback copy of the book Historic Mansions of Denver from an Amazon re-seller. Although Cheesman Academy and Peter Pan School are mentioned along with Maude Miller, sadly there are no pictures of the mansion that housed this wonderful school. If anyone has any pictures of the school it would be fun to make them available. Also, what would happen if we organized a REUNION sometime next year? We could have a gathering in the Park and swap stories. It would take some organizing, accommodations locating, etc., but it might be really, really fun. I’m open to comments. SR

  40. Awesome, Shelley! Good to know I can find it on Amazon. Going to have to go on a shopping spree now.

    And I LOVE your idea of a reunion! How do we make that happen? Do you remember any certain days or times of year that were significant in Peter Pan School/Cheeseman’s history? If so, I think we should aim to have the reunion then. Or maybe on the day the school first opened? If we could find that info out? YES, YES, YES, we should do it. Want to work together on it?

  41. Wow, all the memories flooding back. I attended what was Cheeseman Academy from 1970 to 1976. 5th grade was my last year. Who couldn’t forget the lunches? Yes, bread and gravy, cottage cheese and fruit cocktail and my least favorite corned beef and hash. I took choir with Mrs. Parsons, tap from Ms. Conway. Ms. Mithcell’s office is where I went when I was in trouble. My two best friends George Newton and Scott Williams and I used to get in trouble frequently. Ms. Mitchell would make us sit in different corners of the dining room for punishment. We’d peel paint from the walls out of boredom. No doubt that was lead paint. Lol. It got to be such a predictable thing we would bring hot wheel cars to roll to each other. Which of course got us in more trouble. Nivea Brown was working there as a receptionist/administrator. She assigned the runners everyday, the kids who ran out to the park to get children when their parents showed up. She was also my babysitter on Saturdays since my parents worked. I remember the room names, the concerts at Phipps, summer camp, watching Sesame Street and Zoom in the auditorium, playing kick the can in the park, the people who work after school taking care of the kids until parents arrived, my first kiss in first grade under the tables with Sharia Fitzner (sorry to Sharia if she reads this 🙂 ), how sweet and loving Mrs. Miller was, but most of all I remember how happy I was going to school there. I was heart broken when I was closed and subsequently torn down. I’m so thrilled to see this and the group on Facebook. Maybe some of my classmates will show up. Thanks you Courtney for this. You have no idea how great this is. And for those of you looking for a good picture there’s this from the Denver Public Library. Enjoy!

  42. Ack, sorry, I hit post before I meant to. That photo, like the one Shelley found, gives me chills. I used to dream about the school a lot. In the dream I ALWAYS dreamed of the trees out front, but in my mind (when I’d wake up) I could never remember if there were trees or not. And the stairs seemed so much bigger. But, of course, to my child’s eye they likely were. It’s just good to know a picture of it has been preserved somewhere. So sad it was torn down.

    And you’re peeling paint remark…wow. That brought back a flash of an odd memory. I can remember doing that too!!!! I’m just so impressed what an impression that school has left on so many of us. It was quite the place. Everyone who takes the time to leave a comment emphasizes that. Thanks for adding your memories to the pile!

  43. I didn’t go to Cheesman but I went to St Philomenas on St Paul and I remember taking tap classes from a Ms Conway and am wondering if it is the same lady. She had at least two daughters named Bridget and Colleen. I hated tap class and use to hide in the boys bathroom cause I figured no one would find me there. I’ve been looking for contacts from St Phils and have struck out.

  44. PJ I would suggest even though you’re not a Cheeseman alum joining the FB group (Cheeseman Academy Alumni). Someone who had her might know something about Ms. Conway or St. Philomenas. Good luck!

  45. Thanks! I will give that a try. I hope to touch base with old friends and people familiar with St. Phils like you have with Cheeseman. Appreciate your input!

  46. Hi, Courtney;
    I graduated from Cheeseman when it was still Peter Pan Academy. That was 1965-1966 and it was the last year for the school’s name to be Peter Pan and it was changed to Cheeseman Academy. I remember it because I had thought that it would have been so cool to graduate from Cheeseman than Peter Pan. I vividly remember the days we played at the park. Mrs. Oughtred taught English class, I think. She was a big woman with a ruler that she would carry with her. I never saw anyone being punished by her but I watched my step in her class. Love the website you have. Kay

  47. Hi Kay! So glad you shared your memories of Peter Pan/Cheeseman too. I did not know Mrs. Oughtred, but she sounds intense. I would’ve been afraid of her I bet. (I was terrified of an art teacher named Ms. Grissom, who was actually a very nice woman but she did scare me. Plus, my handwriting stunk and I could never get compliments from her on that like she gave to others…even though I tried sooooo hard!) Still, it was a great school and I’m so excited another alum found my post and shared some memories. Thank you.

  48. This site has opened a flood of memories. I am a business man now with a family and living a normal life but when I think back about my years at Cheeseman Academy it’s almost like a fantasy world. It’s almost like there were many souls at that school and on that property, many more than just the students and staff. The memories are magical and some are pretty dark. It’s like a place that time forgot, even though it was the late 70’s, I feel like I went there in the 1870’s. I remember learning French in 3rd grade. Singing Frère Jacques, frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?! … Learning Tap dance in the gymnasium? The daily walks over to Cheeseman Park, seeing young couples in bell bottoms rolling around in the grass making out. It was the 70’s after all… but what freedom we had just running in this huge park. This would never happen now. I remember the art room upstairs where we all sat at a long table and did crafts. Elmer’s glue on colored paper then covering it with glitter to create a masterpiece. My mom loved these. I even remember getting pulled out of class and going into a small room with the art teacher doing side art projects? Strange. There was a teacher there that was very strange. He would just tip the tables over in class and we would have wars, one side against the other throwing stuff at each other. He was like a kid. But a bad kid. For a field trip we walked down the street to some strange little theater and saw some small time armature Frankenstein play. Very creepy but fun. I remember coming back from the park one day and stepping into one of the old bathrooms with the old fashioned commodes that had the tank 7ft in the air with a chain hanging down. I saw a boy in there that had been gone for a few weeks. I asked him why and he said it was because his dad had died. I had never really talked to him before but I felt bad and told him it’s going to be ok, his dad was with God now. He said he doesn’t believe in God anymore because his dad has died. I remember growing up a little at that moment as I was faced with such a heavy thought. We were both in third grade but he was standing there with the wisdom of a man.

    There was something very wrong in the attic. I remember the yearly Christmas tradition of meeting in the gymnasium and breaking off into groups to search the house for Santa Claus. A teacher would be dressed up as Santa and would hide somewhere. Somehow I broke off from the group and decided to climb the top stairs the attic which was clearly forbidden but something always seemed to be pulling me to go up there. As I reached the top of the stairs I turned to see a magnificent large room with sunlight beaming in on the jumbled mess of stacked furniture and other relics that seemed like they were hundreds of years old. I remember shuddering so hard with fear that I could hardly see. I wasn’t alone up there and it wasn’t Santa. I remember not being able to move for a second and then I couldn’t keep up with my feet as I ran down. It seems like I found Santa just after that crouching on the fire escape just outside the art room upstairs. This vision is also coming back to me as a little creepy. But as we all gathered to escort him down into the Gym the memories turn to the typical sounds of joy and laughter as we all cheered the magic of Christmas in this magical place.
    I remember being dressed as a mouse with a white shirt and black shoes with mouse ears waiting to go on stage for a play at the museum surrounded by butterflies and beetles. It must have been The Pied Piper. The stage was huge. I also remember every day they would ask a few boys to volunteer to escort the school owner Mrs. Miller across the street to her huge home to and from school. This was a thrill as we would walk up to the large mansion and step inside. So dark and quite. We would always get a sugar treat for this service.
    I don’t know if it’s a memory or something more sinister but I remember a door to the basement in the back of the gym near the kitchen. I remember somehow being down there and seeing a small bed in the corner. A man was living down there? I think it was the janitor but if not then I don’t know how to explain this memory.
    Clover necklaces… Jaws at the movies…. Charlie’s Angles on TV…. My parents worked late so I was always there for the after school hours where we all just sat in the lunch room and talked or practiced card tricks. The house got very dark then. Even walking past for main stairs gave me the chills when I looked up to where the dark classrooms were. I used to be tormented by migraines when I was younger and remember lying in the room near the lunch room just crying for hours while the teachers took turns holding a wet rag on my head until my mom could come get me. The after school hours were also when I would also try to sneak back to the secret staircase in the back of the house that led up to a closet in a classroom upstairs. Again something was always calling me…. I remember asking a girl to my birthday party…. Never did that before but was happy when she came.
    I’m almost glad this school is gone now because these precious memories along with the thousands of others from other kids are now locked in time not to be tarnished and in a way my childhood will be protected forever.

  49. I’m thinking you must’ve gone there around the same time I did. Maybe a little before, but some of your memories brought back some more of mine. I remember Charlie’s Angels being huge, and clover necklaces! And you are SO right about we had freedoms kids today would be amazed at. And I’m glad you said something about the attic spooked you too. Actually, reading your Santa tale from it gave me chills. And the toilets!!!! Oh man, the bathrooms, especially the ones behind the gym, were so old…yet charming. I used to love using them. So many different wild memories. And I like the way you view it being torn down. I hadn’t considered it that way, but somehow it keeps it special. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your memories too!

  50. Gerry Motter says: January 6, 2012

    I have meant to look up the old school in Cheesman Park for quit a few years, I was a
    resident student there in about1935 and 1936 when it was Peter Pan. I was only 3-4 yrs old at that time. I was placed there as a ward of the state during my parent’s divorce and custody fight. I was there for about a year or two,,,I’m not sure, I was very young.
    I do have memories of that time, some happier than others, but I never experienced any paranormal activity that I remember.
    I revisited the school in either 1954 or 1955. The woman who ran the school then was the same one that ran it when I went there. She showed me photograph albums that she had from past years and claimed to remember me. I had a very unusual departure.
    I was not aware that they had torn down the old school.
    That is sad in a way, it really was a beautiful old building. The staircase and the turret are strongest memories.
    I am sure it was an all-girl school when I was there. We had dormitories, twin beds and bunk beds in 2 large rooms.
    I could write so much more but memories usually are only important to the person
    who lived them. It was very interesting to read about the cemetary and school as it was later than my time.

  51. I haven’t checked in here for months, so I had a lot of catching up to do. Shelly, I would love to have a copy of that picture of the school. Could you scan and send it to me at You just cracked open another memory. I do remember twisting the crepe paper and wrapping it round and round on the jars. I also went to East High and was in White Jackets with Marilyn VanDerber briefly. I think she graduated in 1955; I was in the class of 1957. I never knew she went to Peter Pan until I read it in Courtney’s blog.

  52. Hi Jean! So cool you learned something from the blog about a fellow classmate. And even cooler we’re both East High alums! At least they haven’t torn that school down. Thank goodness. It’s another beauty! I’ll see if I still have that image too and get it sent to you. Isn’t it remarkable the memories we’ve all unlocked for one another? I love it!!!

  53. My neighbor was a student at Peter Pan. I am going to share this information with her. She will be so excited. She has spoken fondly many times about her years there. Her name is Jeanne De ______ or Janey for short. I do not know her maiden name.

  54. Thank you for sending me the pictures of Peter Pan School. I gave them to my neighbor who was a student about 1935-1940. I also read to her all your comments. She was absolutely thrilled. She is vision impaired and does not have access to a computer. I have asked to join the Facebook group on her behalf. She is very interested in attending a reunion. Thank you for helping me to make her day.

  55. Shirley, comments like yours make my day! SO glad my post helped your neighbor. That was sure nice of you to help her out to get this info.

  56. First I would like to mention to everyone that there is a Peter Pan/Cheesman Academy group on Facebook and invite everyone here to join. We are discussing an actual reunion of former students in July ’13.

    Second, Patrick Friedauer, you were there about the same time as my daughter, Anna Tice. Do you remember her?

  57. I forgot, I also posted a lot of pictures from the school on the Facebook group.

  58. Hi Bill! I’m glad you gave a shout out about the reunion. And I have to go swing by and see some of the photos you posted. I sure wish that school was still around. Even if it was no longer a school. It was such a great building. I wish I could walk through it again now with my adult eyes.

  59. Is it possible for you to share you photos and web pages with us alum?
    We would all appreciate it, after all we all came from this very special place that most people will never understand the mark it left on us all!

  60. Hey Tina, I don’t know what you mean by sharing photos and web pages. I’m always happy to share though. (I really don’t have any photos of Cheeseman the school…sadly. Or maybe you were responding to another comment on here? Sorry…I want to help but my brain isn’t quiet functioning.)

  61. Wow! I just googled Peter Pan School to see if there might be anything there. Was hoping for a pic of the building. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane. Went there only from the summer of 60 to Jan 62. But it set the foundation for my learning early on. As an introvert standing on a stage in 2nd grade in front of the rest of the school and reciting the Preamble to the Constitution, The Presidents of the USA, the Gettysburg Address, and all the States in alphabetical order just to get a pencil that had Peter Pan School engraved on the side. So thankful for that education.

    Also knew more Spanish and French then than I ever learned in High School.

    And I had Math in Never Never Land, and Reading in Tinker Bell. (they really had Disney names, but don’t remember what class was in what room…)

    And I bit the thermometer (while on the south porch) in half and let out some of the mercury after being warned by a very intimidating woman not to bite down on it.

    And I have a picture of me in the ‘HMS Pinafore’ at Phipps Auditorium (having survived the bugs and insects room)

    Let me know if you have a reunion – would be willing to help. Sounds like many of us have the same Memories.


  62. Hi Courtney,

    Long time no see. Do you remember me? You came to my house in Aurora for my birthday day 1976? 1977? Not sure what year but I still consider you my first Girl friend. I have an old birth day pic of you and I on my couch.
    The only girl there so thanks by the way…

    I think my Mom still has a pic of all of us on the front steps of Cheesman Acadamy.
    If I get a hold of it I’ll scan it and post it. It will show all our classmates.

    Sorry to hear about your ilness.

    Remember a kid named Tony?
    Rember the bad attic at school?

  63. Hi Tony!!!! Of course I remember you! I still feel guilty every time I think about pulling your backpack this one time. It landed me in Ms. Mitchell’s office. I don’t know what I was mad about but I want to say I tore your backpack when I pulled it? I remember you being pretty nice about it, though. Even though I was being a booger. It’s nice you brought up remembering me at your party (which I also remember, and I believe I was on better behavior that day) instead of the backpack incident. I always wondered what happened to you. Excited to reconnect via the Internet! I’d love to see any pics you might have too. And the bad attic…maybe that’s why I didn’t like the attic. Did we really call it that? For a long, LONG time I had bad dreams about it. So glad you found this post and said something.

  64. As an introvert who dropped out of kindergarten because they didn’t help me with my reading and I could not believe how dumb marching around in circles banging blocks was, Peter Pan School was my first real venture into the wierd world of world out there.

    My father walked me in holding my hand that first day. As I was about to be handed over to Mrs. Mitchell, I was clearly frightened and hanging onto Father’s hand for dear life. My Father bent down and said he would bring me a little bag of candy when he picked me up. Oh lordy Mrs. Mitchell lit into him with a lecture about not “bribing the child”. He looked a little sheepish. She grabbed my hand from him and I think I dissociated, I was terrified that I was being dragged away by a woman so powerful she could scold my FATHER. I did not expect to see the light of day again.

    Of course when my Father picked me up there was a little brown sack of handmade candies for me. I knew then that even the powerful (and self-righteous) can’t make us into somebody else and control us. It was a great relief to know that. It is a lesson I’ve had to refresh a few times when powerful people have posed a threat to me in many different ways and places. I think though, that I always have that little brown bag of beautiful candies in the back of my mind like a sign of victory and the right to be true to myself.

    I attended Peter Pan school in 1959 through to graduation. The park was a saving grace for me. When a shy girl needs a calm and peaceful space in her day she can always find a tree willing to be her shelter. I remember individual trees quite well. The big pines with their long branches sweeping the ground. I can close my eyes and see bright sun on the grass and hear the soft voices of leaves making a world of people that was too loud and always making demands fade away to tiny distant sounds.

  65. What nice memories, Joy. Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Peter Pan. (Mrs. Mitchell used to scare the snot out of me. She seemed like such a stern woman. I ran into her in King Soopers once after I graduated high school. Or maybe I was still in high school. She still remembered me and do you know she still even struck fear in me? Yet she was super cordial and we had a great talk about the old school and what we’d both done since. I’m sure she’s passed on now. As an adult I’d sure like now to shake her hand and tell her thanks for all she taught me. Even though she was not one of my teachers. She was still a great role model adult in my life.)

  66. I was at Cheeseman from 1973 to 1977 First through third.
    I remember the architecture in dreams and the attic lately allot with the British shows I love so much and Downton Abbey. The Attic was the servants quarters before the school days. I remember going up into the attic with my 2nd grade teacher. It was full of furniture where they used to have classes in the older days before the fire codes prevented them from using that floor. The only way out was an old metal fire exit stairs on the outside of the building and the inside single stairway.

    When I was there the brownstone section of the school was wearing down. The children used to scratch away the rock on the outsides where the paint had chipped. I remember bars on the old carriage/garage building coming out of the stone.

    The other thing which I remember so much is the floor layouts and the fireplaces in each room.

    Having toured the Molly Brown house and then several PBS and British shows on old mansions and the Edwardian period which higly influenced this mansions building, I feel a “touch” to the past from being there in this mansion – if that makes sense to anyone.

    The Upstairs/Downstairs show from the 1960’s and today on Masterpeice also brought back memories.


  67. I also forgot to mention the basement and subbasement (root cellar). I was able to help one time bringing the huge cans of food from the subbasement once to the kitchen. The children daycare monitor dude (who was not likeable) once and only once (he was called John) closed the door on me in the subbasement which was totally dark. I was not amused. He was never trusted again.

    It is interesting to note how the subbasement was the old root cellar. Like the mansions next to the Mississippi River, they stored things below ground where the temp was cool and stable and no light. Funny how life events connect knowledge from one thing to another.

    One can build knowledge and benefit while at the same time, chucking out the bad experiences.


  68. I boarded at Peter Pan from about 1935-1941 or’42.
    My brother Jere was the first boy student because and when Jay Miller was ready to start school Jere would be his companion.Jere and I attended days that year.
    I have many great memories of friends there at the time.
    I would love to have any pictures because in those days folks didn’t take many! I wrote a small book about my years and friends there.
    I sure enjoyed reading all the memories posted!

  69. Just stumbled upon Courtney’s article and this thread, sorry for coming late to the party. I graduated from Peter Pan in 1962. I was the Captain of the H.M.S. Pinafore one year at Phipps auditorium — Mrs. Parsons was the music teacher, and she was also in the adult choir with my mother at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. Mrs. Judge was my First Grade teacher, in later classes there were Mrs. Boal and Mrs. Aughtred, both terrific teachers. I seem to recall that Mrs. Miller’s son went to the Air Force Academy. Mrs. Miller’s house was across the street from the school, and I remember a treat when she gave us a tour of the house. There was also a Mrs. Clark who was more like a teacher’s aid, and she could be very mean at times, especially as an over-the-top disciplinarian, (with a cohort whose name, but not face, escapes me). Went to the Univ. of Denver swimming pool in the summer, and to Elitch Gardens. Broke a finger one year playing softball. One great factor was that unlike public schools, students at Peter Pan came from all over the Denver area and suburbs, which provided daily exposure to kids from different socio-economic and family backgrounds. I must say that I received a superior grade school education and have, overall, very good memories of the place, teachers and classmates.

  70. I forgot to mention another great memory: going to Denver’s then KLZ-TV to video record a Christmas program (I was in the choir), shot on the set that was used for the daily afternoon Sheriff Scotty kids program.

  71. Hey Mike! Love when another fellow alum finds this post and shares their memories. It never fails to bring ones flooding back for me…as I hope it does for others who read. It really was a great school. So glad you left your comments. THANK YOU!

  72. I’m so glad you made this post/blog. I took my daughter there. She attended in 1978-80 and we truly loved it. Things in life changed and we had to move. Schools changed and she was never as happy in another school as she was there. She passed away in 2008, due to a sudden heart problem and so I can’t share this with her, but I can with her 19 year old daughter, Thank you SO much for the memories. She turned out to be an artist who had just been accepted to do some art work for a comic book of some fame. It involved a lot of beauty and skill…right up her alley, I believe she was encouraged to be creative at Cheeseman and it brought out her gifts, Her name was Erin West. I remember her teacher she really liked was Mrs.Miller. I think she was also the Principle. Again, thanks so very much. BJ

  73. What grade was she in when she attended, BJ? I was there in 1978-1980 also, but she was either ahead of me or behind me because that name is not ringing a bell. And if anyplace could encourage artistic sensibilities, Cheeseman was the place. I loved all the art, singing, and dancing classes. I am so very sorry to hear she has since passed away. She sounds like a neat person who was able to use her gifts. Love hearing that. Thanks for sharing your comment!

  74. Wow! What a treasure trove of memories. I was at Cheeseman Academy from 1968- 1970. My first grade teacher looked just like Snow White and I was in the Lark Bunting room. I remember bread and gravy for lunch and also hash. I will never forget Mrs. Parson’s purple hair and preparing for the operettas at Phipp’s Auditorium in the bug room. I had very long hair and a naughty boy named Billy kept pulling it so Mrs. Miller took him in her office and spanked him. Can you imagine that today? I know my love of music, dance and French came from my time there. Does anyone else remember crawdad fishing and taking them home from a big tank on a table in the foyer by the front door? My best friend was Terri Henry and I also remember two other friends…sisters named Paris and Renee Gore. Paris passed out when they were giving us all inoculations in the gym. I remember lining up and counting how many kids until I was going to get that big shot in my arm! I loved going to the park and laying in the sun and getting scolded for the grass stains on my white keds. So happy to have read all of the posts and take a trip down memory lane!

  75. Hi Kimberly! So glad you found the post. Thanks for taking the time to leave your fun memories of Cheeseman. This has become really neat for me to see what kinds of memories people share. I also liked you knew Purple Parsons too!!!! And I’m wondering if my fascination with French is because of Cheeseman too. Something I had never considered until your comment. But that was the language I chose to take in high school and college. Maybe because my fundamentals came from Cheeseman? Thanks so very much again for taking the time to comment!

  76. I was a boy named Kim going to a school named Peter Pan that looked like a haunted mansion run by a very stern lady named Maude Miller. No way anyone could ever tease you about that scenario for more than about a 100 years. I attended Peter Pan from 1952 to 1956, 1st through 5th grade. I spent a great deal of time in Mrs. Miller’s office because I would “disturb” the other children while they were doing their school work. Mrs. Krieg was the asst. principal and I truly loved this woman because she would spend a lot of time with me watching my back while I was being punished in Mrs. Miller’s office. Peter Pan provided a great education and much much more. The place made you worldly way beyond your years culturally, practically, and logically with the ability to solve problems on your own. I rode public buses from Arvada everyday from the age of six to the school transferring buses twice each way for five years. Today nobody would put their 6 year old child on public transportation to ride 20 miles across town, but at that time it probably wasn’t all that unusual. I loved the park and we would make big piles of leaves in the fall and roll around and jump into those piles playing whatever games kids played in the early 50’s. My best friends at the school were Jimmy Barclay and Freddie Monich. I have not seen them since. I was told that Freddie went to Nebraska and became a very successful radio personality in Omaha or Lincoln. Not sure what happened to Jimmy. My folks moved to Anaheim, California just after Disneyland opened and I never made the connection between the school Peter Pan and the Disney character Peter Pan. I got the best of both worlds by going to Peter Pan,a great school that provided me a great education, and got to live next to Disneyland, the “Happiest Place on Earth.” I consider myself to be one of the more fortunate and blessed people to have been brought up during that period of history in our country and to have been given the opportunity to go to school named Peter Pan.

    The only downside to attending Peter Pan is that to this day I cannot stand the smell or the thought of eating Macaroni & Cheese after having it what seemed like four times a week for five years. Small sacrifice for getting to attend a great school. Today I live in Knoxville, Tennessee with my wife, two dogs, one cat, and two horses on the Tennessee River in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Would love to hear from anyone that was around Peter Pan when I was there and by the way some of you got short changed for reciting all of the Presidents, States & Capitals, Gettysburg Address—I received a Duncan yo-yo for doing that same memorization drill.

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