Honoring O.T. Jackson

The Dining Hall’s First Manager

The next time you are waiting for a table at Chautauqua Dining Hall, look for the framed photos of Oliver Toussaint Jackson, known as O.T., right inside the doorway. This tribute was erected in 2021 to honor Jackson, perhaps the most prominent Black citizen in Boulder of his time, for his role in Chautauqua’s history as the first manager of Chautauqua Dining Hall. Jackson supervised a staff of 75 people in 1898, including at Chautauqua’s July 4, 1898 opening that brought 4,000 visitors to campus. But his influence extended well beyond Chautauqua’s campus. Throughout his successful restaurant career, he owned and operated a popular seafood restaurant at 55th and Arapahoe, an ice-cream parlor, an oyster bar, a full catering company, and managed a hotel and café on Pearl Street. If that is not enough, he was very involved in Colorado’s state government and, in 1910, he established the all-Black agricultural community of Dearfield. Located about 25 miles south of Greeley, Dearfield grew to be a small town with several hundred residents and 20,000 acres at its height in 1919. To learn more about O.T. Jackson and his legacy, visit the Dining Hall or read the 2021 Daily Camera article marking Chautauqua’s permanent O.T. Jackson tribute.

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