A couple of years ago, as plans for the National Western Center project became more concrete, Maus wasn’t sure that those plans would leave room for the bar he’d already been running for more than a dozen years, in a spot that had been home to a stockyards watering hole for decades before that (as the Stockyards Inn, Doc's, the Old West Tavern and other venues lost to time). It’s located in the westernmost building in a three-structure complex smack in the middle of the property that’s being redeveloped into the $1.1 billion National Western Center, and for some time, the status of that complex was in limbo.
But just before the 2019 Stock Show was set to start, the City of Denver purchased the three-building Livestock Exchange complex from longtime owner Fred Orr, who’d acquired the property after it went into receivership two decades before. For $11.5 million, the city got the circa 1919 building that houses the Stockyard Saloon; the structure next to it, which dates back to 1898 and sustained considerable fire damage years ago; and the stunning, five-story Livestock Exchange Building that opened in 1916 as the headquarters of the Denver Union Stock Company, which had started the Stock Show a decade before as the Western Livestock Show.
For the first several years, the show was housed in tents, until the Stadium Arena was completed in 1909. In 2016, that structure was designated a Denver landmark; it will be an intrinsic part of the new center. And now it looks like the entire Livestock Exchange Building complex will also be protected; the city is planning to sell the structures (but keep some of the land), and one term of the sale is that the new owner apply for landmark status within one year of closing. To help with that, the city has already drafted the application for historic designation.
And that mission is: "to convene the world at the National Western Center to lead, inspire, create, educate, and entertain in pursuit of global food solutions....The revolutionary campus will provide a broad focus on agriculture, food, livestock and animal health and performance; water, energy, sustainability and the environment; and entertainment, rodeo and equestrian events."
Among other things, the RFP asks a potential buyer to outline how its project would meet this mission and vision, agree to "accommodate a commemorative display provided by the City which describes the historic role of rail and the Denver Rock Island Railroad on the National Western Center campus for permanent display in the grand lobby entrance of the Property" (getting the railroad to agree to a move its tracks was key to the NWC plan), and also state its proposed purchase price: "Denver's minimum acceptable price is $9,000,000."
The submission deadline was September 13; the city says it's hoping to finalize the sale by early in the second quarter of this year.
Right now, he's stocking up on beer and whiskey, organizing the live bands that will play at his place every night, planning the shot specials and giveaways, and getting ready to host quite a party.
One that could well include a toast not just to the past, but the future of the Livestock Exchange Building, a true Denver landmark.
The Stockyard Saloon is located at 4710 National Western Drive; while the bar is normally open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, all bets are off during the Stock Show, when the bar is open seven days and late into the night. Call 303-298-0525 to check on hours.