Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898-1978) was one of the Twentieth Century’s most influential women, a powerful international leader and diplomat who greatly impacted the course of history. The Golda Meir House Museum on the Auraria Campus is the only known U.S. residence of this important women, a standing tribute to her commitment to freedom, peace and human dignity. The museum celebrates the theme inspired by Golda’s life – the story of a women from a low income, ethnic environment whose ideals and dedication changed the world. Golda Meir was born Goldie Mabovitch in Kiev, Russia, May 3, 1898. In 1906, she and her family fled to the United States to escape religious persecution along with thousands of other Russian Jews. The family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Golda was a brilliant student who showed her humanitarian instincts by age 11, when she organized an elaborate fundraising program to collect money so that poor children could buy school books. When she became a teenager, Goldie wanted to go on to high school and become a teacher. Her parents had already picked a husband for her, however, and married women were not allowed to teach in Milwaukee. In 1913, she ran away from home to pursue her education in Denver, Colorado.
She joined her sister Shayna, brother-in- law Sam, and niece Judith at 1606-1608 Julian Street, a modest brick duplex less than a mile from the present Auraria Campus. Golda attended North High School for nearly two years before rejoining her parents in Milwaukee, working part time as a presser for her brother-in-law at Korngold’s Cleaning and Pressing Works, near the Brown Palace Hotel.
The Korngold house was considered a social and intellectual haven by numerous Jewish immigrants from Russia. Most of them had traveled out West for treatment at Denver’s famous Jewish Hospital for Consumptives (Jewish Consumptive Relief Society and National Jewish Hospital), and were either ill or recently recovered from tuberculosis. In this environment, Goldie discussed politics, served tea, met her future husband Morris Meyerson, and developed her future political philosophy. She became deeply involved with Zionism and made the decision to emigrate to Israel.
The importance of Golda’s Denver experience is documented in her 1975 autobiography My Life, where she states, “It was in Denver that my real education began…”
In 1981, the tiny duplex at 1606-1608 Julian Street was first identified as the Denver home of Golda Meir. The house was inches away from demolition. An intense effort by a small group of concerned citizens including the late Mel Cohen and his wife Esther temporarily saved the structure, which narrowly escaped fire, a tornado, vandalism and repeated demolition attempts by the city. The house was moved twice before being relocated by the Auraria Foundation to the Auraria Campus in September 1988. The Golda Meir House was designated a Denver landmark in 1995, and a total restoration was accomplished through private contributions and a grant from the Colorado Historical Fund. The building today serves as a museum, conference center, and the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, a program of Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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