Charles Green Louthan (first syllable is pronounced like the word "mouth") was born in 1864 in Berryville, Virginia. He came to the Littleton area in 1889 as a carpenter and soon found work in the construction of Fort Logan and Loretto Heights College. Later, while building a house on Rapp Street, he met Lorena Bair, the daughter of Albert and Elmira Bair, who were members of the Dunkers (so named from the practice of immersion, and more commonly known as the Church of the Brethren. This sect of German-American Baptists, with strict religious habits, opposed military service and the taking of oaths).
|Charles G. Louthan family, c.1918. Left to right, standing: Virginia (Ditsch), Harry, Dora (Fielding), Earl. Seated: Charles C., Charles G. Louthan, Lorena Louthan, Charlotte (Skinner). Eleanor, the last child, was born after this photo was taken.|
Family history relates the story that on the evening of July 18, 1893, as Charles and Lorena were sitting on the steps of the old Rapp Street School, Mrs. Bair observed them as Charles leaned over to kiss his sweetheart. Mrs. Bair exploded and caused Lorena to secretly write a letter to Charles in which she explained to him that, "When I entered the house, Mamma was angry and commenced on me, but I did not remain silent as I most always do. I am going to ask you not to come down any more, not for the present, at least until things quiet down. Oh dear, why was I ever born when I can't enjoy myself. Do not send any mail through the P.O. (post office) if you wish to write. I am, as you may by this time know, yours, Lorena."
Charles and Lorena were married on Christmas day, 1894 in the Bair home on Rapp Street. They raised seven children in the family home at 5649 S. Curtice St. that was built by Louthan. The Littleton Independent named Mrs. Louthan "Foremost Mother of Littleton" in 1934.
According to an article by Ed Bemis in the Littleton Independent, Louthan built over 85 houses in Littleton, remodeled several others and built a number of the businesses on Main Street. Louthan made a great contribution to Littleton, not only in buildings, but also as city councilman for 17 years, mayor in 1929-1932 and again in 1934-40. He was a long-time member of the Weston Masonic Lodge.
Louthan was mayor when U.S. Highway 85 was moved away from Main Street and Rapp Street to its present alignment. According to an article by Houstoun Waring in the Littleton Independent, highway engineer Charles D. Vail planned to bypass downtown Littleton because it slowed traffic between Denver and Colorado Springs. Merchants objected to losing traffic and the frustrated Vail sought an alternate route when Louthan proposed moving the river westward slightly. The four-lane highway was built in 1939 as close to business firms as feasible. Ironically, Louthan drove a car only once. In 1929 he bought an Essex and drove it the first day to a job in Englewood, fearfully keeping the car in low gear. The next day he gave the car to his son Charles.
Louthan's daughter, Charlotte Louthan Skinner, remembers, "every Homecoming (now Western Welcome Week) while my father was mayor, and for some time afterwards, he rode in the parade wearing tails and top hat."
In 1961, communities in the Denver metro area decided to coordinate street names and numbers. Littleton had several streets that needed to be renamed. It was decided to change the name of Littleton's Logan Street to Louthan Street in honor of Charles Green Louthan who had built many of the homes on that street. Louthan also built many of the homes on Spotswood that had been named Lincoln Street. Mrs. Skinner writes in her memoirs, "I remember well the autumn when my father (at age 72) fell and broke his hip. The elections were in November, and on Election Day the firemen came in the fire truck and took my father to vote." Lorena Louthan died in October, 1949 and Charles G. on May 15, 1954.
Littleton, (Colo.) Independent. Littleton, Colo.: Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-
Littleton Museum. Photographic Archives and Biography/Placename Files.
_____. Vertical File: "Louthan Family."
Skinner, Charlotte Louthan, My Early Childhood in Littleton, Colorado, date unknown.
Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.
Compiled by Lorena Donohue
Updated May 2017