When Wade Murphy and his partners in Archetype Holdings bought the decrepit building at 119 South Broadway that had most recently been home to Kitty's South, they applied to have the building declared non-historic — but also promised to save what could be saved of the hundred-year-old structure, with hopes of turning it into a distillery and community gathering place. Today the former porn palace is stripped down to just the skeleton of its marquee and its exterior shell.
One day, that shell will be filled with the Archetype, a distillery producing small-batch gin and vodka for sale in a large, open-concept tasting room that will also serve as an event space and an art gallery.
What remains of the building will soon celebrate its hundredth birthday. It started out in 1917 as the Webber Show, a silent-movie house that opened in 1917 with 1,000 seats. The Webber remained a major gathering place in the age of the talkies and was the first theater in the city with air-conditioning.
By the late ’70s, though, it had changed to Kitty's South, a porn palace that closed in 2007.
Plans for the 12,050-square-foot Archetype call for restoring the marquee with new translucent facing and installing new windows in the original brick work, according to plans filed in November with the city. The owners also envision a lobby, a tasting room adjacent to the distillery, a bottling room and offices. “The plan is not approved yet and is subject to change,” says Andrea Burns, communications director for Denver’s Department of Community Planning and Development.
The city's Landmark Preservation Commission had determined that the structure could qualify for historic designation, but because no one in the community moved to have it designated historic, it was issued a certificate of non-historic status in late 2015. That would have allowed the owners to demolish it, but instead they kept what they could.
Archetype Holdings paid $2.6 million for the property in September 2015. The project is being developed by SourceRock Partners and Corum Real Estate; the design is led by Architectural Workshop. The goal is to open the Archetype in July 2017, in time to celebrate the building's 100 years on South Broadway.