Clarence F Holmes Jr. Dental Office
Dr. Clarence F. Holmes, Jr. was one of the first Black dentists in Denver. He was the first African American dentist to be included in the Denver Dental Society. During the Early 1920s he was civil rights leader for the African American community. He founded three prominent organizations for the Denver community. One was the Colorado branch of the NAACP. Holmes held some of their first meetings at his dental office. Currently the site has been demolished and is making way for The Hooper. This is a mixed use building. It is named after the former Jazz Club owner Benny Hooper.
Backstory and Context
Clarence F Holmes Jr. was born in 1892, in Denver Colorado. He graduated from Manual High School in 1913. He attended Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington D.C. He returned to Denver and made a name for himself in the African American community. He laid the groundwork for the NAACP Colorado Branch.
Holmes was the first African American dentist to join the Dental Society. He was not the first African American dentist in Denver. That title is held by Dr Ernest McClain. Regarding his membership Holmes felt there was opposition. There was a fear he might attend a social gathering.
His practice was located on the Historic Welton St. For 50 years he served the five points community. The office was an integrated practice. During the Great Depression he offered complimentary services to his patients. He was part of the Community Chest program, which performed free extractions.
Dr. Holmes was increasingly dismayed by racial discrimination, segregation, and the prevalence of the KKK. He established the Interracial Committee in 1916. The group helped establish the Glenarm YMCA. Other YMCA’s around Denver were exclusively white. This YMCA was open to African Americans. In 1931, He founded the Cosmopolitan Club. The organization promoted interracial and interfaith understanding. He was one of the founders of the CO-WY branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He hosted some of the first meetings at his dental office.
This office building has since been demolished. Current plans are for a mixed use building called The Hooper. The building is named after prominent jazz club owner Benny Hooper. The ground floor will be a restaurant and event space.
- 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.
- New Project: The Hooper, Denver Urbanism. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://denverinfill.com/2018/12/new-project-the-hooper.html.
- Early NAACP Meeting (Denver, Colo.), Denver Public Library. Accessed June 30th 2020. https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/collection/p15330coll1/id/1602/.