WHEN Ann Lampert first stepped into a real estate office in 1923, anything east of Colorado Boulevard and south of 6th Avenue was considered way out in the country, and completely undeveloped. There were probably cows grazing in the fields there.
Little did that young woman know in 1923 that she and her family would be responsible for selling hundreds, if not thousands, of homes in what would become the highly sought after neighborhoods of Hilltop, Crestmoor and Winston Downs, “way out in the country.” Ninety-five years later, her son and grandson are still selling homes in those areas, working with the children and grandchildren of the original owners.
Ann Lampert Realty is a third-generation full-service agency, now headed by Ann Lampert’s son Ed, and grandson Mark. Ed handles sales and development; Mark specializes in property management.
Born Ann Greenberg in 1905, Ann Lampert was ahead of her time – one of the first female real estate agents in Denver.
She had a difficult childhood. Her mother died when Ann was three days old; and because her father traveled for business, she spent a good part of her youth in foster homes and at the Denver Sheltering Home. When her older sister married, Ann lived with her.
In high school, Ann worked for the Denver Post, selling real estate advertisements, That’s when she caught the bug.
Right after high school, jobs were particularly hard to find. Undaunted, Ann walked into the office of the prominent real estate broker Frank King at 16th and Broadway and offered to work for free for a month. King, impressed with her sincerity, hired her, setting her on a course toward a successful, lifelong career in real estate.
Ann worked for Frank King seven years, eventually becoming office manager. When she married Ben Lampert, she took three years off before going to work for real estate agent Madeline Mullen, the first woman allowed on the Denver Board of Realtors.
IN fact, in those early days of Ann Lampert’s career, women real estate agents were not permitted to have their listings distributed through the listing services of the day, so they formed a club, the Realtyettes. These women – which included Lampert – not only got together socially, they created their own book of listings.
Under Madeline Mullen’s mentorship, Lampert obtained her real estate license.
It was no small feat for Ann to acquire her first listing while working for Mrs. Mullen. Starting out with no contacts, “I called at random in the phone book for two weeks and finally latched upon a man, an oil company executive in a home off Montview (Blvd.). It sold right way,” she said in a 1979 interview with the Intermountain Jewish News, in which she was featured as a “Very Important Woman.”
She recalled, “I was very, very green, but Mrs. Mullen insisted I go up there alone and present it, and I got it through. That was a great experience.”
After Mullens’ death, Ann formed Ann Lampert Realty in 1948.
THREE years later, her only child, Ed, was at a crossroads, with his father encouraging him to become an insurance salesman like himself, and his mother suggesting he join her in real estate.
Mom won, and Dad was ok with that. “Real estate seemed to be a natural for me,” Ed says.
Ann Lampert Realty, first located at 851 Corona St., relocated to 326 Holly St., where it operated for 36 years. It’s been at 420 S. Forest St., for the past 13 years.
In the beginning, the Lamperts specialized in “better homes” in the post-war suburban community of Hilltop. They were creating what was to become one of Denver’s top neighborhoods, and it remains so today.
They sold most of the homes built by Joe Morris along Glencoe and Grape streets, and later worked with Writer Brothers, selling large lots for homes on South Fairfax and South Forest streets for as much as $42,000 – a pretty penny in the 1950s.
Ed recalls that originally Hilltop was developed with blocks and alleys and the houses had rear-drive detached garages.
“People started wanting attached garages,” so some of the blocks became a mix of homes with alleys and detached garages and those with attached garages and driveways on the front of the houses, and the lots had be sold accordingly.”
Many of the houses in Hilltop were custom, featuring “nice kitchens with the latest appliances and mostly three bedrooms.” Some empty-nesters were downsizing and built two-bedroom homes. Most of the homes were ranches.
In the 1950s, Hilltop became a magnet for Jews moving “up and out” of the old West Side and Capitol Hill communities of Denver. Hilltop was the choice destination, in part due to restrictive anti-Jewish covenants in Crestmoor, the upscale development just to the east of Hilltop, and in Belcaro, slightly south and west of Hilltop.
So, Hilltop – which Ed defines as between Colorado Blvd. and Holly St. on the west and east, and between 6th Ave. and Alameda Ave. on the north and south – in the 1950s and ‘60s was predominantly Jewish. Ann and Ed Lampert dominated that market with most of the listings.
Like all other neighborhoods, Hilltop has changed in the past 60 years, but unlike many other neighborhoods, it has gotten only better as time marches on. Many of the single-story ranch homes have been renovated to include second stories, known as “pop-tops”; others have been sold and razed, with luxurious, spacious two- and three-story homes taking full advantage of the larger lots in Hilltop.
A few of the original homes remain, retaining the mid-century, post-war suburban luxury home vibe of vintage Hilltop. Landscaping is mature and city zoning and architectural standards have ensured that each block in Hilltop looks clean and sophisticated.
And that “way-out-in-the-country” description? Not anymore. Some would argue now that Hilltop is the best location in Denver. It’s adjacent to the Cherry Creek shopping district, a straight shot to downtown via Speer Blvd., and five to seven minutes from I-25 which connects to all points north and south.
The Lamperts say they have sold many of the same properties in Hilltop and surrounding subdivisions numerous times.