Successful cities all have a strong sense of place. What place symbolizes Denver for you?
That’s what Historic Denver wanted to know when it announced its annual photo contest, this year titled "Landmarks Today and Tomorrow," and the nonprofit received over 200 submissions by the May 31 deadline. “People send us photos of places that they love in Denver, and they often wind up being places we recognize and know,” says Historic Denver’s Sigri Strand, who coordinated the competition.
People sent plenty of photos of parks, including Lakeside Amusement Park (seen above in David Stremme's honorable mention winner), but they also submitted some surprises. “It’s nice to see submissions that are sort of a diamond in the rough, or things we don’t think about on a daily basis,” Strand notes. “Places that are not on everyone’s radar.”
Third-prize winner Zachary Dougherty offered an unusual view of a familiar place: City Park. But his shot focused on the Children's Fountain, with the City Park Boathouse in the background and the mountains far beyond that. “Typically we see photos taken from behind the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, looking at the mountains from City Park,” says Strand. “I liked that perspective.”
The J. Solf Building in Sun Valley, captured in a photo by second-prize winner Andrew Ledbetter, was another surprise. “We see Queen Anne buildings all across the city, but it’s nice to see one in that part of town,” she says. Particularly because that part of town could be changing fast, with the recent approval of the new Stadium District Master Plan and the skeleton of Meow Wolf Denver now rising above the Colfax Viaduct.
And the winner?
Brad Crooks's photo of the Rossonian Hotel, the famed jazz club on Welton Street that dates from the days when Five Points was known as the Harlem of the West. It's been empty for the past forty-plus years; Crooks captured it on a day when public tours were being offered, so the building was showing signs of life.
Five Points is another fast-changing part of town. And after many false starts, the circa 1911-1912 Rossonian (it started life as the Baxter Hotel, but was renamed when A.W.L. Ross bought it in 1929) is part of a major development that has leveled the rest of the block for a project that will involve building apartments and retail, but also restore the building to its former glory...and then some.
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After an appearance before Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission earlier this month, the developers were sent back to the drawing board to work on some some design elements involving the Rossonian; the city will schedule another hearing after those revisions are submitted.
"We're really excited to see it coming back to life," says Strand.
Excited to see the other winning photos in the meantime? Go to Historic Denver's Facebook page.