After 105 Years, Little Sisters to Close West Highland Mullen Home

By Eric Heinz

The tenants of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Mullen Home in West Highland will have to leave by Oct. 31, after the organization announced it is closing the facility.

Father Mark Cregan, a representative for Little Sisters, told The Denver North Star that the elderly living facility is closing because the convent doesn’t have enough staff nationwide and it has been closing facilities throughout the last decade.

Sister Joseph Marie sits in the Cathedral of the Little Sisters of the Poor Mullen House. The deed to the property at 3629 W 29th Ave. in West Highland, is expected to revert to the Archdiocese of Denver at the end of October, when residents will have to move out. Photo by Eric Heinz

Cregan has facilitated several of the closures of Little Sisters homes in other states.

“Sometimes the residents are taken care of by sisters who are older than they are,” Cregan said.

On Aug. 3, Little Sisters gave notice to the residents of the Mullen Home that it would be closing the facility and they would need to be out by the end of October, but Little Sisters said it has provided residents with alternative and similar living arrangements.

“We’re following the process that the state mandates for closing of a nursing facility,” Cregan said, adding about a third of the 40 residents living there have already sought other living arrangements.

“The caseworkers facilitate the discharge of basically every person,” Cregan said. “Others will go to another Little Sisters of the Poor home or they’ll move them to a facility. Obviously if they live in Denver, they want to stay there.”

The nearest Little Sisters home to Denver is in Gallup, New Mexico, he said. Cregan said many of the families have been very cooperative, while others are “very upset” because they don’t want to leave.

“And the sisters don’t want to leave,” he said. “They’ve been there 105 years, and it’s not like they’re just starting and running out.”

Sister Sarah Skelton, the assistant superior of Mullen Home, also said the Little Sisters will support the residents during the transition.

The front entrance of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s Mullen House at 3629 W, 29th Ave. Photo by Eric Heinz

“After being in this home for over 100 years, it is very hard for us Little Sisters to imagine that we will not be serving here in the future,” she said. “And we recognize how difficult it is for the residents and their families to know that they will have to move from this home. But we will work with you to find the best option for you moving forward. We will take this next step in our journey together.”

Cregan said the Mullen Home has three levels of residency that consist of nursing care and independent living apartments, and it also had assisted living care but it has since relinquished that license. The building and the land are not being sold, however.

The deed will revert to the Archdiocese of Denver, which is deliberating what to do with the property. Cregan said the Archbishop has told him he wants to use the property “for a mission purpose, but he has to figure it out,” and he added it would unlikely be a nursing home again.

“While we are still in the process of determining the next steps for the property, I wish to assure the Little Sisters that their legacy of humble service will be honored and to assure the Mullen family that their gift will continue to support the church’s mission within northern Colorado,” Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said in a prepared statement dated Aug. 3.

“The Archdiocese will utilize its resources to support the Little Sisters in their efforts to help the local community, including the Mullen Home’s residents, families, and staff, make this transition.” David Uebbing, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, told The Denver North Star that the religious organization has set up a committee to determine what to do with the property.

Sister Joseph Marie sits in the Cathedral of the Little Sisters of the Poor Mullen House. She has been with the property for decades and said her mother was one of the first full-time cooks at the convent. Sister Marie will move to Minnesota soon to join the Little Sisters home there. “It’s home,” she said of the North Denver location. Photo by Eric Heinz

The committee includes people with real estate experience, but he said he does not think there are plans to sell the building.

“Really right now, we’re at the stage of that committee vetting different options and it’s in brainstorming mode and we’re not anywhere near deciding what to do with it,” Uebbing said.

According to the Denver Assessor’s Office, the property at 3629 W. 29th Ave. is about 8.2 acres with an actual value of more than $26.8 million.

According to the Denver branch website, Little Sisters of the Poor has operated since 1917 when the first nuns arrived from France to help elderly poor. John K. Mullen and his wife, Catherine, financed the purchase of the land and the construction of a building to house elderly people, and it received its first resident in 1918.

In 1975, new wings were added to the original building to provide different levels of care, and in 1980, part of the original building was renovated to create apartments.



  1. This is so sad to see them up rooting elderly elderly it’s where Denver’s going where Denver’s going I’m sure they’ll be high rise expensive apartments on that land at some point such a shame

    • Agree. My mother is a resident and moving soon. She is 96 and this will be a challenge. I don’t feel this was done with compassion. Father Cregan could care less about the employees, residents and families. There’s more to this story than we know!

      • Property is worth $26.8M, I’m betting you’re correct in saying there’s more to this story. Maybe there are staff shortages, they are everywhere. Elderly still need their home.

  2. This is very sad. I worked at the Mullen home some years ago as a night security guard. The residents and people who work there are very precious. I was even there when a former President visited the home. Im heart broken 😞

  3. I use to live right next to Little Sisters on W. 30th Ave. My dog would run on the lawn and leave puppy snow angels in the snow during winter. The head priest even blessed him several times. This is sad news! Bless the sisters for their dedication!

  4. I am so so very sad about this. My great great grandfather was JK Mullen and he too would be so disappointed that this decision was made. His intent when buying the property and constructing the building was to help those in need. Something he abided by his whole life. Very disheartening and will be curious to see what happens next.

  5. There is a LOT more to this story. Take one example – the Elevators. There are two in the old building and two in the new building. Estimates to refurbish all four was something like 750k a few years back. I know they did at least one of the new building elevators and were in the process of doing the second when the closing was announced – and the very expensive elevator work ceased. People have asked – why start on any of this preventative maintenance work when this place will never be run as a nursing facility again?

    Why have other Little Sisters homes been taken over by other nursing operators while this one was not? Interesting question. Perhaps because this one sits on a goldmine?

    If the issue is lack of sisters.. well, that’s a problem which has existed for a lot longer than recently. Why did JK Mullen Prep not close when all of the brothers retired/exited/lacked in numbers?

    The Archdiocese has a very, very expensive piece of property in one of the hottest area of Denver, and I’ll take a educated guess that the Little Sisters were told by the Archdiocese to exit and close, and that they will take quick action to sell the property. The same thing that happened with the Elitch, Stapleton and Villa Italia properties will happen to this property – tons of new homes jammed together for lots of $$$. There is a lot of veil around how the Catholic Church operates, and this will be yet another example of this behaviour.

    Take note that Fr. Mark Cregan is not just a priest – he’s a lawyer.

  6. My Aunt lived there and they took very good care of her
    We visited her and was so impressed with the home absolutely beautiful!
    Too bad the almighty dollar makes it better than our precious elderly!

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