Wink's Panorama Lodge Designated a National Historic Landmark
Wink’s Panorama lodge, located in Lincoln Hills, CO, which is among the earliest resort communities established by and for African Americans, was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) on December 13, 2023, an honor reserved for resources of the highest level of national significance, of which there are only some 2,600 sites. The lodge had already been listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 (which includes more than 90,000 listings comprising some 1.5 million contributing resources). Elevation to this elite status is significant considering the site was recognized as threatened in the thematic 2021 Landslide report and digital exhibition Race and Space.
In a press release announcing the NHL designation of Wink’s Panorama lodge and fifteen other sites, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said: “Supporting voluntary and locally led stewardship is key to nationwide efforts to conserve and connect the lands upon which we all depend.” Chuck Sams, Director of the National Park Service, which administers the NHL program, said: “It’s important that the places we deem nationally significant represent the historical and natural diversity of the American experience.”
The NHL nomination states that the Wink’s Panorama lodge “is nationally significant for its association with African American history as a rare Rocky Mountain destination for Black travelers seeking a mountain recreational experience during the era of segregation, when travel was challenging and potentially dangerous. Situated twenty-eight miles northwest of Denver on a forested mountainside at an elevation of nearly 8,300 [feet], Wink’s served as a Colorado vacation accommodation and the focal point of the 1925 African American summer vacation home development of Lincoln Hills. The property possesses national significance under National Historic Landmark Criterion 1 for the role it played in the areas of Entertainment/Recreation and Social History from its completion circa 1928-34 to 1965.” Along with the “six-unit, one-and-a-half Rustic-style lodge” built in 1928, the Lincoln Hills resort community included up to 50 cabins.
News of the designation was welcomed by Honorable Gary Jackson, a retired Denver judge who has spent his life summering in Lincoln Hills and whose great grandfather, William Pitts, an African American contractor/builder and the son of an enslaved woman and a slave master, erected a cabin called “Zepher View” in 1926. Judge Jackson, who has advocated on behalf of the Wink’s Panorama lodge since 2007, talked about the importance of the region and his personal experiences in TCLF’s June 24, 2022, Race & Space Conversation II: The Right to Recreate. In an email to TCLF following the NHL designation, Judge Jackson said Lincoln Hills and Wink’s Panorama lodge represented “a true demonstration of self-determination, reliance and courage to begin another Black community when the KKK was flourishing in Colorado.” He told the Weekly Register-Call, that the lodge’s recognition as an NHL is “a dream come true.”