Roger the elephant has been an elusive piece of Edgewater's history for decades, and now the mural that depicted the nineteenth-century amusement-park pachyderm has disappeared as well. But the brewery that that took over the building where the mural was located plans to carry on Roger's memory and create some history of its own.
Joyride Brewing, which will open in a former pawnshop at 2501 Sheridan Boulevard in late June or early July, had originally planned to keep the mural, which was painted in 1997 and showed Roger and various other scenes from the Manhattan Beach amusement park that operated on the banks of nearby Sloan's Lake.
But zoning code in Edgewater -- a tiny town wedged between Denver, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge -- requires that new businesses have a certain amount of window space. To do that, Joyride had to punch out part of the wall where the mural was painted.
"They wanted something that was bright, welcoming and open, since 25th Avenue is Edgewater's main street," says Joyride co-owner Dave Bergen. "No one wanted the mural to come down, but pretty much any business that went in there would have had the same requirement. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place."
As a result, Bergen and co-owners Grant Babb and Brent Smith decided to put in a whopping six garage doors with sun-shading awnings that will open up on the south side of the building, offering sweeping views of Sloan's Lake Park.
"For the most part, the community has been very understanding," Bergen adds, especially since Joyride will provide a popular style of business .
Edgewater City Manager HJ Stalf says there was little chance that the mural would stay; in fact, most of the potential users of the site wanted to scrape the building entirely. "It's a prime corner. We knew there would be significant change," he notes.
Stalf says the brewery should be a nice addition to the town's business district, which is within walking distance of several different neighborhoods in Denver.
And although the mural was cool, Roger's story is a bit of a downer. The elephant gave rides to children at the amusement park until tragedy struck one day in 1891 when Roger was spooked, threw a six-year-boy and killed him. As a result, Roger was himself killed by his handlers and buried nearby. In the intervening years, people have searched for the elephant bones in construction projects, but no one has ever found them.
Because of the history, Joyride's owners held a farewell ceremony for Roger and mural in April, when a photographer took lots of pictures. "Our plan is to get some of those framed and have it be part of the décor in the brewery," Bergen says.
When it opens, Joyride will have at least four regular beers -- a wheat, an IPA, a milk stout and an amber -- along with various seasonal and experimental beers.
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