This multiple property submission provides a historical context for evaluating the significance of historic resources associated with the commercial development of Denver’s Central Business District during the period 1880-1973. The oldest identified historic building in the area dates to 1880. The historical context extends from that year to 1973, when events impacting the local economy resulted in a new era of development.
The City of Denver, Colorado’s capital and largest city, is located on the South Platte River at its confluence with Cherry Creek, some twelve miles east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The search for gold brought the area’s first permanent settlement in 1858: Auraria was established on the west side of Cherry Creek, Denver City was founded on the east, and the townsite of Highland was created on the bluffs to the north. The communities were united in April 1860, selecting the name that honored Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver.
Formally incorporated in 1861, Denver became the county seat of Arapahoe County in the same year and capital of the territory in 1867. The city’s link to a transcontinental railroad in 1870 ensured Denver’s continued regional dominance and it became the state capital in 1876. The riches extracted from Colorado mines fueled a major period of growth, during which the city became an agricultural supply center and a focus of industrial, manufacturing, and financial activity for the Rocky Mountain region.
A 1902 constitutional amendment established Denver as a city and county. During the twentieth century, Denver’s economic base expanded with the growth of tourism, enlargement of the service sector, exploitation of energy resources, and the attraction of numerous federal agency offices. As a major regional center, a number of historically and architecturally significant buildings were erected in Downtown Denver. (Cover documentation accepted for the State Register 9/8/2004, accepted by the National Register in 2004.)
The 1881 Baur Building housed the most popular and longest-lived confectionery, catering, and restaurant firm in Denver. Established in 1871 by German immigrant Otto P. Baur, the company quickly emerged as an innovative and successful purveyor of candies, cakes, and other confectionery items.
The four-story, brick Victorian building, was constructed in 1880 and served as the permanent edifice of the Brinker Collegiate Institute until 1889. From 1889 until 1904, the property was remodeled and opened first as the Richelieu Hotel and then the Navarre.
The Brown Palace Hotel, America’s second fireproof building, was begun in 1889 and completed in 1892. Denver architect Frank East Edbrooke designed the building for Henry C. Brown and co-owners W. H. Bush and N. M. Tabor.
As the headquarters for the Denver Chamber of Commerce from 1910 until 1950, the Neoclassical Revival style building is important for its association with the development of Denver as the business hub of the Rocky Mountain states.
The two-story red brick building was constructed in 1889 to house the operations of the Denver City Cable Railway Company. Incorporated in 1888, by the early 1890s the company had thirty miles of cable railway running through Denver business and residential areas.
Frank E. Edbrooke is credited with the design of the numerous components making up this massive red brick commercial building, which extends along California Street between 16th and 15th streets. Between 1888-1924, the original three-story building grew along with one of Denver’s most successful retail operations.
Completed in 1892, the Equitable Building is significant for its role in the commercial and political history of Colorado. At the time of its completion, it was attributed with the development of 17th Street as a center of finance and business and has since served as the location for many distinguished businesses and law offices.
Constructed in 1911, the twelve-story office building was designed by noted Denver architects William E. and Arthur A. Fisher. While the first and second stories are surfaced with smooth cut granite, the walls are primarily of dark brown brick. The 16th St. facade is composed of seven bays, with segmental arches topping the five central bays.
The 1910 ten-story Sullivanesque style building was designed by prominent Denver architect Harry W.J. Edbrooke for the Denver Gas and Electric Company, reportedly as a promotional tool. The somewhat fanciful structure, considered by many to be Denver’s grandest illuminated building, is distinguished by its terra cotta cladding and the 13,000 electric light bulbs that form geometric patterns around and between the primarily double hung windows.
Reported to be the first multi-level building constructed of reinforced concrete west of the Mississippi, the eight-story structure is topped with a penthouse level. Designed by Montana Fallis and John Stein, the building was constructed in 1907 by the Dome Investment Co. for Claude Boettcher in order to promote the capabilities of his Colorado Portland Cement Company.
Completed in 1891, the Richardsonian Romanesque style building was designed by architect A. Morris Stuckert. The imposing seven-story structure was one of Denver’s first major office buildings and continues to occupy its prominent downtown corner location at 16th and Glenarm streets.
Constructed in 1917 to expand the retail space for the A.T. Lewis & Son Dry Goods Company, the six-story annex makes extensive use of sculptural terra cotta ornamentation reminiscent of the work of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan.
The building housed a succession of dry goods and department stores from 1891 to 1970, including: Salomon’s Bazaar (1891-95); A.T. Lewis and Son Department Store (1896-1932); and W.T. Grant Company (1940-70).
This 1890 Romanesque Revival style building, located at the corner of 16th and Welton streets, served for many years as a center of activities for the Masonic Order in Colorado. As one of downtown Denver’s few surviving examples of the use of rockfaced Manitou sandstone as a building material, its warm red-orange walls provide an interesting contrast with the cool grey stone of the adjacent Kittredge Building.
The 1911 McClintock Building is an example of a small-scale Denver commercial building which provided retail and office space for a variety of businesses during the first half of the 20th century. The storefronts provided space for small shops, including businesses offering drugs, shoes, and clothing. The upper floors housed offices for professionals such as doctors, dentists, and lawyers and those who provided special services, such as beauty salons, dressmakers, and watch repair shops. Although buildings with this combination of functions were not uncommon during the late 19th and earl
The Neusteter Building, a five-story flat roofed commercial building, consists of the 1924 original block and a smaller circa 1952 pre-cast concrete addition. Featuring a ribbon of black marble around its base and buff colored limestone, it is one of the finest examples of Commercial Style architecture in Denver.
Temple H. Buell, a well-known Denver architect, designed the 1930 Paramount Theater. As a representative of the Art Deco style, the theater stands as the last remaining "movie palace" in the metropolitan area.
The 1929 Telephone Building is important for its association with the growth and development of telephone communications in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region. The building served as the headquarters of the seven-state region Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph (later Mountain Bell) from 1929 until 1984. Architecturally, the building is one of the finest examples in the country of the American Perpendicular style, designated by the Bell system as "Modern American Perpendicular Gothic."