James H. Platt Park is located at East Florida Avenue to East Iowa Avenue; South Grant Street to South Logan Street.
In 1894, the Board of Park Commissioners accepted the 3.7-acre site as a park. The park was named for James H. Platt on January 1, 1895.
James H. Platt, soldier and manufacturer, was born of American parents in Johns, Canada, on July 18, 1837. He graduated from the medical department of the University of Vermont in 1850.
At the outbreak of the civil war, Platt enlisted, and was chosen sergeant of Company F, 3rd Vt. Regiment in 1851. He was mustered out honorably in July of 1861, and immediately raised a full company at Chelsea, Orange county, Vt. He was elected its captain, and was mustered into the 4th Vt. Regiment in September of 1861. He commanded this company until December, 1862, and then was detailed on staff duty at the headquarters of the 6th Army corps. He served as aid to Generals William F. Smith, John Sedgwick, and H.G. Wright, and also as acting chief quartermaster of the 6th Corps with the rank of colonel, from November, 1863, until captured by the enemy at Cold Harbor, Va., May 30, 1864. After six months imprisonment, he was honorably mustered out of service in December, 1864. He was present at Lee’s Mills in May, 1862; at Williamsburg; all of the battles of the army of the Potomac, from the time of the organization of the 6th army corps until his capture; participating in every battle. He was elected a member of the first class Loyal Legion on October 12, 1887.
At the close of the war, Colonel Platt settled in Petersburg, Va. In 1867, he was elected to the city council, and was a member of the state constitutional convention. Colonel Platt was elected to Congress four times, beginning with the 41st, and declined the tender by unanimous vote of the convention of a fifth nomination. President Grant offered him the surveyor-generalship of Colorado and the commissionership of the District of Columbia, both of which he declined. From 1870 to the close of the campaign of 1872, he was secretary of the national republican congressional executive committee. In 1876, Colonel Platt was one of the committee having Mr. Blaine’s campaign in charge. He was a delegate to a number of republican national conventions, the last that which nominated Benjamin Harrison.
In 1876, Colonel Platt moved to New York, where he was connected with several very extensive business enterprises. In 1887, he settled in Denver, Colorado. In that year, he established the Equitable Accident Insurance company, which became one of the most successful insurance institutions of the country. In 1890, he resigned the presidency to devote all his time to a searching investigation of the possibilities of paper manufacture in Denver. His attention had been attracted by a statement published in the annual report of the Chamber of Commerce, setting forth the amount of paper consumed in this city and state. Becoming deeply interested, he spent the next two years in studying the subject in all of its details, visiting nearly every large modern paper mill in the United States, and several in foreign lands. Impressed by the conviction that Denver was a favorable point for manufactures of that class, and resolved to consummate the enterprise, he gave to Messrs. D.H. and A.B. Tower, of Holyoke, Mass., leading architects in that line, an order for one of the largest and most thoroughly equipped mills in the country. He organized his company, himself and wife furnishing a large part of the capital, and in due course built and opened for business a superior establishment. The total cost of the plant was $357,000. It was begun September 20, 1890, and completed August 12, 1891. Print stock was exceptional and far superior to the majority of the imported material. The demand being fully equal to the supply, the enterprise was successful from the outset.
Colonel Platt was a gentleman in the most exalted sense, highly cultivated, a charming conversationalist and writer, and a superior business man. He had extensive experience as a soldier and politician with broad training in statesmanship and in varied lines of commerce. While a member of Congress from Virginia, in 1875, he rendered Colorado’s delegate in that body, Hon. Jerome B. Chaffee, very effective service in bringing about the admission of Colorado into the Union.
Soon after completing the great paper mills, he took his family to Green Lake near Georgetown, Clear Creek county, on a fishing excursion, and while out by himself in a boat, he accidentally fell into the water and was drowned (June 13, 1894). His untimely death was a severe shock to the entire community in which he had lived and wrought so earnestly for its advancement.
Excerpts from History of Colorado, Hall, pp. 540-541. The book may be found in the Denver Public Library, Western History.