Guess Which 6 of These Denver Buildings Are Officially Historic and Which 6 Aren't
The campaign to save this house gave rise to Historic Denver.
Molly Brown House and Museum
Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part story on landmark preservation in Denver. Click to read part one, "Want a Denver Building to Get Historic Status? It's Up to You!"
Everyone knows that the Molly Brown House is a historic landmark in Denver; in fact, the fight to save the Victorian structure from demolition led to the creation of Historic Denver in 1970. But just because a building is old doesn't mean it's an official historic landmark in this city; as our cover story, "Building for the Future," shows, getting landmark designation in Denver is a long, involved process.
As a result, many of the places that you think would be historic are not — while some surprising structures are now protected by Denver's Landmark Preservation rules. Keep reading for a look at six spots that make the list, and six that do not. You may be surprised!
1. Designated Historic: Edward L. Fox House
3225 Quivas Street
Though nondescript, the Edward L. Fox house was designated a Denver historic landmark based on its connection to Francis Schlatter, a spiritual healer. A transformative experience pushed the humble cobbler to start a faith-healing ministry, and Schlatter traveled the West before landing in Denver, where Edward Fox invited him to base his makeshift ministry inside this quaint house. In 1895, Schlatter attracted as many as 80,000 people to events, and followers could visit him at his Northside headquarters by taking a special trolley marked “Take This Car for the Healer.” The structure is a good example of how outstanding architecture isn’t always required for historic status; often it’s just enough that history happened here.
2. Not Historic: Anderson House
2329 Eliot Street
A classic representation of the late-1800s Queen Anne-style architecture that dots many of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, the Anderson House was recently deemed not worthy of saving by Denver City Council, after neighbors put up a fight. The building was once home to William W. Anderson, who was briefly the attorney for convicted murderer and admitted cannibal Alfred Packer; Anderson himself was later put on trial for the attempted murders of Denver Post publishers F.G. Bonfils and H.H. Tammen. But apparently those sordid stories weren’t enough to garner historic status for the tall house on the hill, and it is slated to disappear altogether from the quickly changing Jefferson Park neighborhood.
3. Historic: Smith’s Ditch
Joggers pass this unassuming little piece of Denver history whenever they make a loop around Washington Park. Smith’s Ditch is an open-air section of a 27-mile underground water system that was hand-dug in the late 1860s, running from what is now Chatfield all the way to Capitol Hill. Paid for in part by businessman John Smith, the water system was eventually purchased by the City of Denver. Only six miles of the channel are in use today by Denver Water, a section that runs from South High School to City Park. Also known as “The Big Ditch” or “The City Ditch,” this key piece of Denver’s water system was designated a historic landmark in 1977.
4. Not Historic: Lakeside Amusement Park
4601 Sheridan Boulevard
Opened in 1908 as White City, Lakeside Amusement Park has long outlived fellow amusement parks of yore — including the original Elitch Gardens, which closed in 1994, and Manhattan Beach, closed in 1914. Beyond its visual appeal, Lakeside would be a prime candidate for historic preservation because its construction was funded by prominent Denver businessman Adolph Zang. Packed with the grand architecture of many eras, as well as old-school shake-’em-up rides and hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, Lakeside is definitely an asset to the area— but since it’s located in the tiny town of Lakeside, its status is out of Denver’s hands.
5. Historic: Douglass Undertaking Building
2745 Welton Street
This humble structure dates back to the late 1800s, when it was originally built as a residence. In 1915, influential Denver architect Merrill H. Hoyt added the building’s neoclassical look. Later it became the Douglass Undertaking building — home of a business often thought to have been founded by L.H. Douglass, son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which relocated here in 1916, joining many African-American businesses in the neighborhood. Douglass Undertaking remained until 1944, and the building has housed many businesses since then, including a recent speakeasy. As a contributing property to the Five Points Historic District, it has historic status — and is now getting a facelift.
6. Not Historic: Original Brooklyn’s (J. Solf building)
2644 West Colfax Avenue
One of the few remaining Queen Anne structures in the Sun Valley neighborhood along old West Colfax Avenue, the J. Solf building was constructed in 1896. For the past three decades, it’s been the original Brooklyn’s; in the many decades before that, it was headquarters for the Schachet Mercantile Company, home to a kosher delicatessen and also a department store. Nearby sits Rude Park, named after Jewish philanthropist Isadore Rude, who donated some of the money to purchase the land that was gifted to the city. Today the building’s classic architecture is hidden under the Colfax viaduct, but the J. Solf building survives — for now — as a reminder that the area was once the heart of Denver’s strong Jewish community.