Front Range

They Built This City

April 2012

In the mid-1800s, not long after prospectors happened upon gold at Pikes Peak, settlers with metallic glints in their eyes rushed to the Front Range. The beginnings of a city popped up along the South Platte, and by the start of the 20th century, Denverites had erected many of the city buildings considered iconic today. Here, the former inhabitants of some of the Mile High City’s noteworthy landmarks.

Baur Building (1512-1514 Curtis St.)

 

Then: Home to Baur’s Confectionary Company, Denver’s longest-running candymaker, in 1871. Baur’s Restaurant opened on the first floor in 1918.

Now: Office space—5280’s digs from 2006 to 2009—and Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar, which opened in September 2011.

Who Knew? Baur’s offered free ice cream and candy to kids during the Depression.
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Tramway Building (1100 14th St.)

Then: Housed the Tramway Company’s transportation offices from 1911 to 1956. Purchased by the University of Colorado Denver and housed classrooms.

Now: Restored and opened as Hotel Teatro in 1997.

Who Knew? The building was constructed on the site of the former home of John Evans, Colorado’s second territorial governor. 
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Daniels and Fisher Tower (1101 16th St.) 

Then: Built as part of the Daniels and Fisher department store in 1911. In 1967, the department store was demolished, but the tower was preserved.

Now: Houses offices, condos, and, in the basement, Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret.

Who Knew? It was the tallest building (393 feet) in Denver until the 1950s.
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Tivoli building (900 Auraria Parkway)

Then: Built in 1866 as part of Sigi’s Brewery and used by multiple breweries until 1969. 

Now: Remodeled in 1994 as the student union for the Auraria Higher Education Center.

Who Knew? Served as a meeting place for the Turnverein, a German gymnastics group, in the late 1800s.
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The Navarre building (1727 Tremont Pl.)

Then: Built in 1880 as one of the first coed colleges west of the Mississippi River and converted to the Richelieu Hotel—which doubled as an upscale bordello—in 1889. In 1914, the Navarre Café opened as cover for a gambling hall. Acquired by the Anschutz Corporation in 1997.

Now: The American Museum of Western Art. Houses the private art collection of billionaire Philip Anschutz.

Who Knew? Legend has it a tunnel connecting the Navarre’s basement to the Brown Palace Hotel was used to traffic alcohol during prohibition.

 

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Lowenstein Theatre (1475 Elizabeth St.)

 

Then: Built around 1953 as a home for the Denver Civic Theatre at the Bonfils Memorial Theater. Community and children’s theaters were added in 1954.

Now: Vacant for almost 20 years, it went commercial in 2005 and today houses the Tattered Cover and Encore on Colfax.

Who Knew? Former Denver Post publisher Helen Bonfils built the original 550-seat theater.

 

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Fillmore Auditorium (1510 Clarkson St.)

 

Then: Opened as a roller rink in 1907. Briefly housed the factory for Fritchle Automobile & Battery Company. Became the Mammoth Garden Roller Club in 1935.

Now: The Fillmore Auditorium since 1999.

Who Knew? Doubles as an office for the nonprofit Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, which awards grants to music and arts education organizations.