In 1887, when Regis first welcomed students to its new northwest Denver campus, the city’s population was racing toward 100,000, Federal Boulevard was a dirt path that soon would be known as Avenue F, and Main Hall was a brand new building surrounded by hills, open space and a smattering of homes.

In the decades afterward, Regis and northwest Denver grew together, their fortunes intertwined, and by turns buffeted and blessed by events in the world beyond the campus and the neighborhood. Challenges and opportunities faced together bind campus and community, then as now, and strengthen Regis’ commitment to its mission of service to its neighbors as well as its students.

From that 1887 opening, it would be nearly a quarter century before Regis got its second building, a gymnasium completed in 1911.

In 1922, after more than a year of negotiations, Regis acquired 40 acres to provide, among other things, a grand entrance off Federal Boulevard, by then “the most traveled road in Colorado,” as Regis President, Very Rev. Robert M. Kelley, S.J., told the student newspaper, the Brown and Gold. The president and the newspaper envisioned great things from the purchase: “This magnificent area … places Regis in this respect in a position far ahead of any other colleges in the state,” the paper’s scribes insisted. The following year, the Brown and Gold reported on the newly completed “artistic roadway” that linked 50th Avenue at Federal and the main campus.

While the Great Depression took a toll on Regis’ finances – and football team, which had to suspend play for a few years -- World War II devastated enrollment. In 1944, with so many young men fighting on two fronts, Regis’ graduating class numbered just three.

The college persevered, as the nation did, and by the 1950s, victory overseas -- and the G.I. Bill -- brought a new energy to the country and a whole lot of new students to Regis.

For any of those new students who enjoyed knocking a little ball around, post-war Regis even offered special rates at what Brown and Gold ads called "Denver's Finest driving range, putting green and 18-hole miniature golf course" at Golf Land. The course, co-owned by a Regis golf coach, (the college had a golf team then) sat on college-owned land at 50th Avenue at Federal Boulevard, where KMart would later stand. In 1955, the Brown and Gold announced a tournament that promised the astronomical sum of $30 in prizes, including a $9 driver, to the winners.

Like the campus, the surrounding neighborhood was growing and changing, and there were even plans for a highway, which would be known as I-70, just south of campus.

With growth, of course, came challenges. In an otherwise upbeat 954 issue of the Brown and Gold – stories included a sociology professor’s scholarship to study at Harvard, and the highly anticipated freshmen vs. upperclassmen mud fight – students were sternly warned that patronizing a notorious Federal Boulevard watering hole would result in “immediate expulsion,” as gangs of hooligans were known to lie in wait at that location, to attack unsuspecting students.

In 1965, buoyed by the soaring student population, Regis announced ambitious growth and building plans – which included tearing down Main Hall. Fortunately, sounder ambitions and greater respect for heritage prevailed and the venerable building instead was, eventually, fully renovated. And within a few years of that announcement, the Kmart Plaza was thriving in the space between the eastern border of the Regis campus and Federal Boulevard.

Regis has continued growing in the decades since, while that Kmart, like all others, is gone. But from the challenge of an aging shopping center, Regis envisions opportunity emerging. Regis Village would invigorate and energize both campus and community. It would be one more step in the University’s nearly 150-year history of growth and mission within the community – and nobody’s talking about razing Main Hall.