charles l. cousins & charles r. cousins
In 1909, Charles Cousins moved to Denver, working on the Union Pacific Railroad as a dining car waiter. Although Charles' formal education ended after sixth grade, his intellectual gifts, ambition, and unparalleled work ethic soon carried him far. Charles was known as a hard worker, as was his wife, Alta. Because of the sacrifices they made together, Charles could purchase building materials to erect homes and buy pre-existing buildings, laying the foundation of ownership he could pass along to his children. The Arcade in Five Points has been in the Cousins family for three generations.
His son, Charles R. Cousins (called Charlie), began his business career while still a student attending Manual High School in 1936, when he devised a way to rig machines to provide music for school dances.
When white-owned jukebox businesses tried to take over the restaurants and bars where his machines were located, Charlie purchased the buildings, beginning his successful career in real estate. He opened a tavern in Five Points, started a cookie franchise, and managed vending machines and a car wash.
Charlie married “his ideal partner,” Dorothy Elizabeth Caldwell, in 1947. Her intellectual acuity and practicality were vital to their success. He was a leading figure in the city’s Black community, and many area residents depended on his generosity. He provided low-cost apartments to many people who didn’t have the resources. He also wrote off the rent for many others who couldn’t afford to pay.
In 1979, Charlie was appointed to the Denver City Zoning Board, where he served for 23 years. A strong advocate for education, he helped develop Cole Junior High School’s alternative education for students who could not learn and achieve in a traditional school environment.