Loeffler understands, though, that Smiley's location makes it inherently Colfax — regardless of what business is occupying the spot. "The area along Colfax is an interesting place for retailers because of the fantastic demographic of the area," he says.

No matter what happens to Colfax Avenue and other Smiley's-like operations of the eminent past, one thing is for certain: The Colfax demographic will always be fantastic. Bree Davies

Driftwood Motel

East Colfax Avenue and Oneida Street

The lights still work inside the big red-and-yellow neon sign that rests on the Driftwood Motel. Most of them, anyway. And that's not bad for a piece of Colfax history that hasn't been new since 1956, a time when dozens of motor inns welcomed cross-country travelers along U.S. Route 40 — once known as the Gateway to the Rockies.

Today the motel, just a few steps south of Colfax on Oneida, still welcomes guests, but they aren't tourists — and like most of the people who check into motels on Colfax, they probably aren't headed anywhere fast.

Corky Scholl has driven by this sign, and dozens of other neon wonders, almost every day for five years on his way back and forth from his home east of Park Hill to his job downtown. "I'm pretty tuned into all the cool things going on along Colfax," he says, "even the things that most people don't appreciate or don't think [are] cool."

Last year, Scholl and fellow photographer Johne Edge decided to try to preserve some of what they think is cool by founding Save the Signs on Colfax, an organization dedicated to doing just that. Both of them have a nostalgic appreciation for the colorful, in-your-face neon signs and the Googie-style architecture that went with them.

Their first target was the Sid King's Crazy Horse Bar sign, which made a cameo in the 1978 Clint Eastwood cult classic Every Which Way but Loose. The Crazy Horse, a rollicking strip bar that came to symbolize the street, closed in 1983 (the building, at 1201 East Colfax, is now home to the Irish Snug). The sign was saved, though, winding up in a salvage yard, where it was purchased in 2005 by Mike Brown and Melissa Kostic, who hung it in their house. Scholl found it when the couple moved and put the sign up for sale; he's now working with them to have it restored and displayed.

Scholl is also working on a fundraiser to help restore the neon sign at the Oriental Theater, which, at 44th Avenue and Tennyson Street, is far from Colfax, but Scholl's eyes never wander far from the street, and he is in talks with Sean Mandel from Rosen Properties (see our Sprouts story on page 14) to restore two liquor-store signs at Colfax and Monroe Street.

"That one isn't neon, but it's made of hundreds of lightbulbs and it has a big arrow that curves around the awning, pointing to the door. It's old-school and has the same kind of attributes that make neon cool," he says.

To help raise money, Scholl is working to turn Save the Signs into a nonprofit that developers and collectors would be able to donate to and financially support. He's also raising awareness with booths like the one he sat at during the recent Colfax Marathon.

"We just love the beauty of these signs, and there are so many of them," he says. "The Riviera Motel sign still looks great. The Aurora Fox looks great. And the Driftwood. I would really love to get that one going again." Jonathan Shikes

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10 comments
From_Denver
From_Denver

Man, I guess I never thought I would see the day people would be so  up in arms about a fried chicken joint being built on Colfax.

Colfax, you've changed. 

ljhliesl
ljhliesl

Sean Mandel deliberately lies when he "insists" he has received "only two complaints" about Chick-Fil-A. I attended a neighborhood meeting in February with about two dozen neighbors, all of whom opposed the restaurant and pointed out the disadvantages and harm it would inflict on the neighborhood. That was just one meeting that people bothered to attend. He might have "received" two complaints by formal business letter, but he has heard and seen and been exposed to many, many more complaints about the restaurant (and about his duplicity). 

Mandel_Ruins_Colfax
Mandel_Ruins_Colfax

Sean Mandel is lying again.  The entire South City Park Association has complained about Chick-a-Fil.  The drive thru does not meet the city's Colfax Plan and was snuck in on lies by him.  The writers need to contact the association and see all he has done to avoid working with us.  He has stated to us that Sprouts is non-viable on it's own as a tenant and they MUST have a drive thru...  We do not trust, nor like him!

Sean, you are not welcome in SCP! Keep coming here on dates and I will harrass you in front of them!

berniedan
berniedan

I was surprised that the article failed to mention Duman's Custom Tailors. It has been right around the corner from the Capitol forever, and if anything demonstrated the eclectic nature of East Colfax Avenue, it was that shop.

Johnny Genova
Johnny Genova

I was gonna say, isn't it the longest street in the country? Cause if its not I've been lying to my out of town peps.

Conor Tewell
Conor Tewell

Fuck that, the longest avenue in the country! Represent

Ariel Amirinoor
Ariel Amirinoor

Savanna Sailas Tashina Morsulus Garett W. McKee COLFAX!!!

jtcolfax
jtcolfax

interesting.  one other thing that should be mentioned is the latter day phenomenon of calling the street, "the Fax".  that is appalling and must cease.

 
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