The Boulder Bandshell was erected in Central Park by the Boulder Lions Club in 1938 as an outdoor amphitheater for musical concerts and other forms of community entertainment. Architect Glen Huntington designed the structure and landscape architect and city planner Saco R. DeBoer selected the site and prepared the landscape plan. Huntington is credited with designing some of the most prominent buildings in Boulder, including the County Courthouse and Boulder High School, as well as many fraternities, sororities, and residential buildings. DeBoer worked primarily in Denver, but consulted with the City of Boulder on a number of projects during the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1910, DeBoer was appointed as landscape architect for the City of Denver and during his tenure in this role completed several large projects there including the Sunken Gardens and Speer Boulevard. Aside from writing zoning recommendations for the City of Boulder, DeBoer’s other Boulder works include his design for Beach Park in University Hill, the Boulder High School grounds with Glen Huntington, the Flagstaff Amphitheater, and North Boulder Park. Having lived and worked in Denver for over sixty years, DeBoer is best remembered for his efforts at integrating the American City Beautiful movement into his city planning and park development work. Central Park has occupied the block bounded by Broadway, Canyon Boulevard, and 13th Street since the late 1800s, although it was initially called “Cigarette Park.”
When the Bandshell was constructed in 1939, railroad tracks ran along Water Street (Canyon Blvd.) and Broadway was a two-lane road with parking on either side. Train service to central Boulder was discontinued in 1957 and Canyon Boulevard was constructed in the 1960s. Today, Canyon functions as a major east-west thoroughfare through the city and is designated as a state highway.
Over the course of the last 77 years, the Glen Huntington Bandshell (named after its designer) has been the site of a variety of musical concerts, cultural programs, educational presentations, and civic gatherings in the heart of Boulder.
In response to a proposal to remove the structure from its current location in 1995, the Modern Architecture Preservation League submitted a landmark designation application. Later that year, the City Council designated the Bandshell as a local landmark, recognizing its historic, architectural and environmental significance to the city.
In designating the Bandshell in 1995, the Landmarks Board (then the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board) and the City Council found the structure and its site to have historic significance for the role it has played in the social and cultural life of the city; its importance in the history of park development in Boulder; and for its association with the Boulder Lions Club and that organization’s program of improving Boulder Parks.
Likewise, the 1995 designation documentation of the Bandshell found it to be architecturally significant as a rare representative of the Art Deco in Boulder and as the only example of park bandshell construction in the city and one of the few such examples in the state; and as a representative work of Saco R. DeBoer and Glen W. Huntington, noted landscape architect and architect, who are associated with the site design and the design of the structure.
The Bandshell is also environmentally significant for its planned and natural site characteristics; as a component of the central urban park; and as an established, familiar, and prominent visual landmark with its arched design and its location near major thoroughfares, and its outdoor amphitheater seating.