Bonnie Brae was developed in the 1920's on land that had been granted to the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1870. The railroad eventually sold the land to farmers, and later it became part of the town of South Denver, one of the many small communities annexed by Denver.
Bonnie Brae means pleasant hill in Gaelic. In the 1920's, businessman George W. Olinger, began accumulating property in the area for his land development company, and what would eventually become Bonnie Brae real estate. Striving to recreate the feeling of a peaceful Scottish village, Olinger hired noted landscape architect Saco DoBoer to design a street system that departed from the grid system and would focus on the land's topography and natural beauty. By 1923, the first homes were ready to be constructed. Now, streets wind around the elliptically shaped Bonnie Brae Park which is characterized by winding paths and a lovely flower garden. Stone pillars were erected at the entrances on Tennessee and Kentucky streets.
The development fell into hard times in the late 1920s, and further development of the area slowed during the depression of the 1930s. This delay allowed buildings in the late 30s and early 40s to be influenced by the Art Moderne movement in Europe. Horizontal lines and angles softened by rounded corners characterized this style.
The turning point in the neighborhood's development came in 1936 when Ellipse Park, the centerpiece of Saco DeBoer's plan, was constructed. Homes then built up around the park. A decade later, when World War II ended, housing construction boomed and most of the homes east of the park were constructed in an era of post war prosperity.
Today the Bonnie Brae real estate area is a substantial residential neighborhood with many beautiful homes from the 1930s and '40s with some newer homes mixed in. The newest trend in the neighborhood is for newer, larger homes being built on the site, with the smaller, traditional homes being torn down and replaced.
An area newly dubbed Bonnie Brae South is located south of Louisiana and north of I-25. Builders are buying lots in this area because of the anticipated light rail station planned to be located at University and I-25.
Bonnie Brae's quaint commercial district is one of the neighborhood's most charming features. Within walking distance are favorite spots for pizza, spaghetti, fine dining, coffee, and home made ice cream. It's hard to believe the variety available with the short strip on University Avenue between Exposition and Ohio. It also has a branch library, a gas station, a liquor store with a great wine selection, two flower shops, two cleaners, gift shops and more.
Downtown Denver was one of only five "downtowns" to experience population gains of more than 35 % between 1970 and 2000.
Average household size: 2.3
Percentage of people 25 years and older with a bachelors or graduate/professional degree: 34.5%
Bonnie Brae is adjacent to Washington Park, a highly desirable location, yet Bonnie Brae real estate tends to be less expensive than in nearby areas. Bonnie Brae homes are a mix of traditional Tudor and ranch homes, 1940s Art Moderne influenced architecture and modern very large homes built on home sites, replacing the earlier, smaller homes.