Colorado History

Restoration of Historic Emerson School Nears Completion

The historic Emerson School building is home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The historic Emerson School building is home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Margaret Jackson

The final phase of a $3.3 million renovation to the former Emerson School is wrapping up.

Now known as the Frank B. McGlone Center, the 20,000-square-foot building at 1420 Ogden Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2010 by Capitol Hill Senior Resources Inc., which purchased the building in the 1980s to house several nonprofits. In addition to the National Trust, Historic Denver and Colorado Preservation Inc. occupy the building.

Built in 1885, Emerson is the oldest remaining elementary school building in Denver. It was designed by Colorado’s first master architect, Robert Roeschlaub, who became well known for his designs for educational institutions. It was the first Denver school to incorporate space for an in-house library and had the first PTA in the Denver district, as well as the first student council. The Emerson School served as a Denver public school for nearly 100 years, finally closing in 1979.

It was saved from possible demolition by a group of community organizations that developed a plan to use the school to house social-service agencies.

“Our business is to preserve and protect older historic buildings,” says Barbara Pahl, director of the Mountains/Plains office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Denver. “The classrooms are still in their original configuration, but we adapted them to office space.”

Since the project started in 2010, Spectrum General Contractors has installed new HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, substantially renovated the building’s interior, restored all original windows and completed extensive landscape improvements.

The final phase of the renovation is just being completed because Howard Dental, the last of the tenants to occupy the building under the previous owner, has moved out.

“They moved out in July, and we’ve been working on completing their suites and adding the geothermal system into their space,” Pahl says.

Project: Emerson School
Address: 1420 Ogden Street
Developer: Spectrum General Contractors

This is the fourteenth in a series of stories about building projects around town. Read more about development in Denver on our Construction Watch page.

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