Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


American cities after WWII including Denver experienced a boom in population resulting in a shortage of affordable housing. One innovative response to the demand for affordable housing was the formation of the Mile High Housing Association (MHHA), a Colorado non-profit organization founded in 1948 by four University of Denver professors. The MHHA was Colorado’s first housing cooperative and founded on the ideals of a supportive and collaborative community. MHHA’s goals included providing affordable single-family homes with a new modernist design and a neighborhood site plan that supported a cooperative lifestyle. Backed by new legislation in 1948 for FHA financing, the MHHA successfully completed Denver’s first and only single-family housing cooperative consisting of thirty-two homes in 1951. The MHHA disbanded and was replaced by the South Dahlia Lane Community (SDLC) after its original FHA-backed loan was paid off in the 1980s. The original ideals of a cooperative community endure, and the unique thirty-two modern homes remain largely intact and unaltered.

This thesis traces the uncommon and unusual history of South Dahlia Lane. It starts by exploring and documenting the formation of the MHHA, the development of a new cooperative community with a distinctive neighborhood design, its unique financing, evolution from a housing cooperative to an HOA, and its survival in a booming and bustling 21st century city. In addition to examining the history of South Dahlia Lane, this thesis will also look not only at the reasons why this unique neighborhood is significant to the field of historic preservation, but also the influence MHHA had on national legislation affecting the mid-century cooperative housing movement in the United States.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Aaron Cayer

Second Committee Member

Francisco Uvina

Third Committee Member

Dana Sednek


South Dahlia Lane, Cooperative housing, Postwar housing, Eugene Sternberg, Mile High Housing Association, Byron Johnson