The Stiles African American Heritage Gardens

Grace Stiles restored the old Victorian house in Five Points, Denver to share the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to American History

One of the most inspiring people for me as a young artist growing up in Denver was Grace Stiles, founder of the Stiles African American Heritage Center in Five Points. For over 40 years, she had taught in the Denver Public Schools and was dismayed at the history book representation of African Americans being little more than slaves. She started her center with the intention to share the rich and complex contributions made to American history and culture by African Americans. She researched inventors and entrepreneurs, told their stories and lovingly crafted installations to represent histories that shine a light on how deeply woven their influence has been on who we are as Americans.

The last time we worked together was to host a tea for the quilters of Gees Bend some 15 years ago. Grace is fading now, but her light is being carried on by those who love her and share her mission. We visited the center yesterday to see how we can carry her intention to the outdoor spaces that surround the center. We are committed to beautify the gardens with native plants which will thrive with little maintenance while supporting the local ecology. Yesterday we did a site walk, paying attention to the value of the existing plants and potential space for sowing seeds this fall. We were welcomed by bees and a berrying plant offering fruit for the birds, a maple, succulents and the foundation of a tea garden…Grace loved hosting her teas. I love the grace that surrounds her.

Denver Arts & Venues awards the project
a PS You Are Here grant in 2023

Spring Teas:
Exploring plant relationships of African Americans in the West

April 15th, 2023: Honoring Aunt Clara Brown & Plant Medicine

May 13th, 2023: Honoring Madam CJ Walker & Afro Natural Beauty

Fall 2023: Honoring Barney Ford & the Culinary Arts

Create a website or blog at