Benjamin F. Stapleton
|Benjamin Franklin Stapleton|
|32nd Mayor of Denver, Colorado|
|Preceded by||Dewey C. Bailey|
|Succeeded by||George D. Begole|
|34th Mayor of Denver, Colorado|
|Preceded by||George D. Begole|
|Succeeded by||James Quigg Newton|
November 12, 1869|
Paintsville, Kentucky, United States
|Died||May 23, 1950
Denver, Colorado, United States
|Children||Lois Jane and Benjamin, Jr.|
Benjamin Franklin Stapleton (November 12, 1869 - May 23, 1950) was the Mayor of Denver, Colorado for two periods (comprising five terms), the first from 1923–1931 and the second from 1935–1947. He also served as the Democratic Colorado State Auditor from 1933–35.
 Early years
He was born November 12, 1869, in Paintsville, Kentucky. He attended National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, graduating with a law degree. Early in the 1890s, Stapleton went to live in Denver, and in 1899, he was admitted to the Colorado Bar.
Stapleton enlisted for service in the Spanish-American War. He served with the First Colorado Regiment, Company 1, Colorado Volunteers Infantry in the Philippine Islands, rising to the rank of first sergeant .
 Personal life
On June 21, 1917, Stapleton married Mabel Freeland, with whom he had two children, Lois Jane and Benjamin, Junior.
 Political career
Stapleton's political career began in 1904 as police magistrate, where he remained until 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson appointed him postmaster. During his appointment, he oversaw the completion of the Denver Post Office building. After a brief stint in private law practice following his resignation in 1921, Stapleton defeated Dewey C. Bailey in Denver's mayoral election in 1923 and was re-elected in 1927.
Stapleton was responsible for many civic improvements during his five terms as mayor of Denver. Most projects attributed to Stapleton were during his second term as mayor when he had access to funds and manpower from the New Deal. During this time, he saw through the creation of the Denver Civic Center and the Denver Municipal Airport, and the considerable expansion of Denver Mountain Parks system, including the Amphitheatre at Red Rocks Park.
 Denver Municipal Airport
The construction of Denver Municipal Airport was begun in early 1929 and completed that same year. Its grand opening celebration took place over four days from October 17–20 – a week before the stock market crashed. It was widely viewed at the time as a huge boondoggle. Stapleton was excoriated as either corrupt or incompetent, or both, for having the taxpayers subsidize a mere plaything of the wealthy; what the Denver Post sneeringly dubbed "Stapleton's Folly", and others jokingly called "Rattlesnake Hollow". It was viewed by some as too far from civilization to be practicable. Others[who?] pointed out the close relationship Stapleton seemed to have with land-owning political backers who stood to benefit, conspicuous among them H. Brown Canon of Windsor Farm Dairy. These suspicions were a factor in his loss in the 1931 mayoral election to George D. Begole. The airport was later renamed Stapleton International Airport on August 25, 1944 in his honor. Today, the airport no longer exists, replaced by a neighborhood, also named Stapleton, and Stapleton Street continues to bear his name.
 Red Rocks Amphitheatre
In 1935 Stapleton appointed George Cranmer, a wealthy former stockbroker, as manager of Improvements and Parks. Cranmer had luckily pulled his assets out of the stock market just a year before the crash of 1929. The two, as it turned out, had completely different visions for what to do with a particularly striking locale at Red Rocks Park.
Some time before his appointment, while pondering a boulder field that was surmounted by large projecting rocks on either side, the thoughts of George Cranmer drifted to a memory of something he had once seen while on tour in Sicily: an ancient Greek open-air theater with stone seating. He began to envision something similar, yet unique, for this location.
Whereas, however, Cranmer dreamt of clearing a starry-skied stage, Stapleton saw the boulders strewn there as the members of a naturally-formed, one-of-a-kind 'rock garden', and wanted them preserved.
Unbeknown to Stapleton, Cranmer was attempting to persuade the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to quietly go ahead with plans to demolish the rocks with dynamite. He was successful in this, and the rocks were indeed razed. With Stapleton's rock garden no more, the process was begun of hiring architects to design and oversee the eventual building of what is now Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
 After politics
After leaving office, it was uncovered that Stapleton had ties to the Ku Klux Klan, from which he had enjoyed considerable influence in return for its electoral support. This association continues to overshadow his notable contributions to Denver's economic and cultural institutions.
Stapleton died on May 23, 1950 at his home in Denver.
- Some photographs related to Stapleton can be found at the Western History Photograph Collection of the Denver Public Library
- Compilers: Cynthia Rand, Ann Brown; Proj. Mngr.: Ellen Zazzarino (January, 2002; rev. 2009). "Benjamin Stapleton Papers". Western History Collection . Denver Public Library . Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Thomas J. Noel. "Mile High City - 7. Denver's ups and downs". Retrieved May 21, 2009.
- Gonzales, Manny (November 23, 1999). "Racist Group Dominated Politics in Early 1920s". Denver Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO). Retrieved July 20, 2009.