With a fresh coat of orange paint sitting on his cottage, Obrey Wendall Hamlet, bursting with excitement, wrote a letter thanking the land’s original developers.
“It’s the keenest pleasure I have ever experienced. It thrills and fills me with love for the out-of-doors,” Hamlet, who went by “Winks,” wrote.
His own cottage, nestled in the heart of rustic Lincoln Hills — a vision of the American West.
In the coming decades, the cottage would be filled with laughter and dancing. It would become a mountain resort for generations to enjoy.
But this vacation destination was unique.
Hamlet’s cottage, known as Winks Panorama or Winks Lodge, was the epicenter of Black recreation in the West during segregation.
It was the only one of its kind west of the Mississippi. Stationed in Lincoln Hills, which was established in 1922 by a pair of Black developers, it was a safe place for Black Americans to vacation without fear.
Thanks to the persistence of activist and historian Bertha Halloway, who visited Lincoln Hills in her childhood, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 1980.
The recognition of the lodge’s historic value four decades ago was a significant feat. For a long time, the National Register ignored places historically meaningful to underrepresented communities. In the last few years, though, the National Park Service started working to increase representation on the register.
“(Halloway) acquired this, and it was her impetus, I think, that resulted in that early nomination,” said Tom Simmons of Front Range Research Associates.
“There was kind of belated interest in nominating things associated with African Americans; I think they’re putting a major emphasis on that right now, but they’re kind of scrambling to catch up.”