Montclair was originally developed as a small suburban community east of Denver. The land was purchased and developed by the Montclair Town and Improvement Company in 1885. One of its founders, Matthias P. Cochrane, originally came from Montclair, New Jersey and named the new community in its honor. The other founder, Baron Walter von Richthofen, was a German nobleman and uncle to Manfred von Richthofen, the celebrated World War I flying ace known as the 'Red Baron'. The community was originally designed to attract wealthier residents who were turned off by Denver's "400 saloons and forty Market Street bordellos". To this end, homeowners were required to purchase and build on lots that were twice the Denver standard size of 25 feet by 125 feet. Homes were required to be at last three stories high, made of brick or stone. In addition, town trustees had to approve all plans and saloons and alcohol were forbidden.
The community became the incorporated town of Montclair in 1888. In 1893, the crash of the silver market and the ensuing Panic of 1893 brought all development to a halt. Baron von Richthofen then began to promote the town as a health retreat, calling it the 'Carlsbad of Colorado'. However, due to his sudden death from appendicitis in 1898, plans for a health spa, art museum, hotel, gymnasium, casino and pavilions never materialized. By 1900, the US Census recorded only eighty-eight families living in Montclair.
In 1902, the newly created City and County of Denver began to incorporate the town of Montclair. The town objected strongly to its inclusion and fought the City of Denver all the way to the State Supreme Court. Montclair lost and annexation was made final in 1903. Then-mayor Robert W. Speer eased the transition by beautifying and extending Richthofen's system of parkways and boulevards from the central city into the suburb, planting many trees and erecting fountains and monuments. In 1907, the Montclair Improvement Association was formed to push the City of Denver into providing "graded, curbed, oiled and lighted streets, water and gas mains, a sewer system, parks and parkways and other services."
The community is also home to the Molkery, now called the Montclair Civic Building, a huge, eye-captivating building with wide wrap-around porches that's now used for special events and meetings. Both the Richthhofen Castle and the Molkery Building have been restored. Mayfair partially overlaps Montclair and was formed as its own community much later.
In 2014, the Colfax-Mayfair Business Improvement District formed following a big push by Mayfair Neighbors, a local organization with the goal to stimulate business in the area. The District now works closely with the City of Denver to implement economic development, public improvements and safety and advocacy efforts. It's also continually working to revitalize the neighborhood and draw in small business to accommodate the community, which is increasingly becoming attractive to young families.
Living in Montclair/Mayfair today
Residents boast a quiet, historic neighborhood with a good mix of residential streets and businesses. They have a rich mix of diverse architectural styles, from Tudor, to foursquare, to Queen Anne, to ranch, to cottages and more. Montclair is also home to the oldest home association in Denver. The Historic Montclair Community Association Inc. is 109 years old. Residents don't have to travel far for their daily necessities. There's also a few small businesses and a 7-11 located at Montclair Plaza at 719-745 Quebec St.
That plaza was sold to Jeff Hermanson, owner of downtown Denver's Larimer Square retail district in 2011. There's also a neighborhood King Soopers and Safeway near the intersection of East 14th Avenue and Krameria Street.
The neighborhoods are home to Rosemark at Mayfair Park, an assisted living facility that opened late 2015. CLA, a consulting and management services company, is the operating partner of Rosemark.
Although the neighborhood is self-contained and feel secluded, they are also convenient. People living in Montclair can head to nearby Stapleton, Cherry Creek and the East Colfax corridor for more extensive shopping.