Clarence F Holmes Jr. Dental Office
At this location once stood the office and workplace of Dr. Clarence F. Holmes Jr., one of the first Black Dentists in Denver Colorado. The practice here was established in 1931 when Dr. Holmes returned to Denver with his wife. As part of his practice, Dr. Holmes’ dentistry practice was an integrated one, serving both the African American community and the white community of Five Points. During the Great Depression, he offered complimentary services to his patients as part of his dedication to the community. Dr. Holmes also was a prominent activist in the Denver community, helping found the NAACP Colorado Branch, being the first African American Dentist to join the Denver Dental Society, and establishing the Cosmopolitan Club of Denver. Dr. Holmes would retire from a dental practice in 1975 and die in March of 1978 at the age of 86. The building that housed his dental practice has since been demolished, with the site repurposed and rebuilt into a mixed-use building called the hooper.
Backstory and Context
Dr. Clarence F. Holmes Jr. was born on May 21st, 1892 in Denver Colorado. After graduating from Manual High School in Denver in 1913 he attended the Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington DC. Later he returned to Denver with his wife and began a dentistry practice for the African American Community in 1931 that would serve the Five Points community for 50 years.
Dr. Holmes was a staunch activist and member of the Denver community. As part of his activism work, he helped lay the groundwork for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Colorado Branch and held some of its first meetings at his dentistry practice. In addition, he established the Interracial Committee in Denver in 1916, worried about the prevalence of the KKK in Denver. The Interracial Committee was responsible for establishing the Glenarm YMCA, a mixed YMCA and the first in Denver to allow African Americans.
As part of his practice of dentistry, Dr. Holmes joined the Denver Dental Society as the first African American Dentist within the society. At the time Dr. Holmes felt there was opposition to his membership in the Dental society, particularly that members were concerned he might attend one of the society’s social gatherings. While Dr. Holmes was the first African American to join the Denver Dental Society, the first licensed black dentist in Denver was actually Dr. Ernest McClain.
In 1925, in response to his efforts being a visible African American professional and being a person of verbal opposition to the KKK, Klansmen burned a cross on Dr. Holme’s front lawn. At the time, the Five Points neighborhood was the only African American hospitable neighborhood in Denver in the 1920s. When Dr. Holmes’ returned to Denver in 1931 he founded the Cosmopolitan Club, a group dedicated to building relationships among Denver’s diverse communities. The group’s motto “Humanity above Race, Nationality, and Creed” reflected its drive to bring people together and promote interracial and interfaith understanding. Dr. Holmes led the group as its president for more than thirty years.
Eventually, Dr. Holmes would retire from dentistry in 1975 and would pass away on the 9th of March, 1978 at the age of 85. The building that housed his dentistry office has since been torn down and replaced with a mixed-use building called the Hooper.
Allyn, Noah. Two Men Who Helped Pave the Way for African American Activists in Denver, History of Colorado. February 26th 2019. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://www.historycolorado.org/story/colorado-voices/2019/02/26/two-men-who-helped-pave-way-african-american-activists-denver.
Culver, Joyce Escue. Dr Clarence Fitzhugh Holmes, Find a Grave. November 14th 2008. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31410450/clarence-fitzhugh-holmes.
Early NAACP Meeting (Denver, Colo.), Denver Public Library. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p15330coll1/id/1602/.
Jones, Jae. DR. CLARENCE F. HOLMES: PRACTICED DENTISTRY FOR 56 YEARS IN DENVER’S FIVE POINTS NEIGHBORHOOD, Black Then. October 5th 2018. Accessed November 18th 2020. https://blackthen.com/dr-clarence-f-holmes-practiced-dentistry-for-56-years-in-denvers-five-points-neighborhood/.
New Project: The Hooper, Denver Urbanism. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://denverinfill.com/2018/12/new-project-the-hooper.html.