Archive for October, 2007
In keeping with the spirit of this spooky time of year I went on the Brown Palace Hotel’s Haunted Tour last week. Well, I did not realize it but the Brown Palace is apparently ghost/spirit central. Our tour started in the main floor lobby where we learned about the history of how the hotel came to be.
I learned a great deal of information that was very interesting and fun. I knew that the Hotel was old but I did not realize it was 115 years old! I also learned that it is Denver’s longest operating hotel and was built by Henry C. Brown back when the City of Denver was just 34 years old. As it turns out, one of the most often seen spirits in the Hotel is none other than Mr. Brown himself.
After our introduction we went up to the second floor and went across the sky bridge that connects the older part of the hotel with what is now a Comfort Inn. I was surprised to find that the Comfort Inn is owned and operated by the Brown Palace and has been since the mid 50s. Our guide pointed out that beneath us was (allegedly) once a secret tunnel that was connected to a brothel that allowed men of society to sneak back and forth etc.
It was at this point that she told us that the most haunted part of the Hotel was the Oxford Club Room where many strange and mysterious things have been seen and heard. From ghost musicians to lights that turned themselves on to falling bottles of liquor, the Club has a very long history of haunting.
We then went into the center of the Hotel and stood over the railing overlooking the lobby and soaring atrium. It was really stunning and beautiful. Of course there were a number of spooky and eerie things that have happened in the lobby as well. I was most surprised by the fact that back in the mid 30s the two upper floors of the hotel were remodeled and turned into apartments. i had never noticed that the 8th floor did not have an open balcony but rather it has been sealed off with walls of glass blocks. As it turns out, this conversion of rooms to apartments was done in art deco style and it was at that point we learned that we were going up to the 8th floor to see it in person!
I could not believe how different the 8th floor felt from the rest of the hotel. It really was like a whole other hotel and everything down to the room numbers on the doors felt art deco. Our guide explained to us at that point that we would be touring the Eisenhower Presidential Suite. We learned that President Eisenhower and his wife were very frequent guests of the Brown and even turned the suite into a “Western White House” for a period of time. All I can say is the suite was stunning and it was the first and only time I have been in a Presidential Suite.
We got to sit in the living room of the suite as our guide told us more tales of doors closing by themselves and spirits that roamed the halls of the Hotel. One of the last anecdotes she shared was about a socialite named Louise Crawford Hill who lived in an apartment at the Brown from 1940 until her death in 1955. During a Valentine’s day tour about scandals and heartbreak, our guide was telling Mrs. Hill’s tragic story when the main switchboard of the hotel began receiving calls from Room 904 (her old apartment) when they picked up they could only here static. This was most intriguing because Room 904 had been completed gutted and was under renovation at the time - no phone line was connected. After our guide stopped telling the story about Mrs. Hill the calls stopped.
Our tour concluded back in the lobby of the hotel where our guide pointed out some very unique murals that really showcased what life and society were like when the hotel was first opened and when the murals were painted - in the mid 40s. All I can say is I walked away from that tour having a new found fascination with the Brown Palace Hotel. Given how much Denver has changed over the past 115 years I think it is astounding that the hotel is still there and as grand as ever. I think we are so lucky to have such a historical gem right in Downtown.
Whether you believe in ghosts or all things paranormal or think it is all just made up for publicity, the Brown Palace Hotel is a testament to the City of Denver and its early pioneers. I highly recommend checking it out even if you just end up strolling through the lobby. Personally, I have had cocktails in the Churchill Bar and it was really cool. Happy Halloween!
Posted in Culture | 4 Comments »
It is hard to believe but the 16th Street Mall turned 25 years old this week. Having only been 5 years old when it opened, I have never known Downtown Denver without 16th street being the mile long pedestrian mall it is today. You can read more about it in this Rocky Mountain News article.
I attended the press conference where the Mayor, an RTD official and the CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership made remarks in Skyline Park. It was a great spot as the D & F Tower was directly behind them and mall shuttles came and went during the program. I have very fond memories of the mall and Downtown from when my parents worked in office buildings along 17th avenue.
I remember going to Joslins and May D & F. I remember when the old school Banana Republic store was on the second floor of the Masonic Building across from where the Pavilions would eventually go. One of my most vivid memories was of going to Woolworths on one of their last days of operation. I remember the sign that said “World’s Biggest Woolworths” and how cool it was that it had two levels. Since I grew up in the suburbs coming Downtown was always fun and exciting.
Of course the Mall has changed dramatically since then and today I have a new found appreciation for the stability and vitality the Mall has brought to Downtown. Milestones such as these always ask the question of what the next 25 years will bring. There are interesting Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News articles that talks about the next steps for updating and re-envisioning the mall in the future.
I will be excited to see what changes are in store for the Mall and for Downtown. Happy Birthday!
Posted in Civic, Events | No Comments »
2007 World Series Posted by
Well it is over. The whirlwind of activity surrounding the 2007 World Series is winding down. While we did not sweep the series I am very proud that the Rockies took the penant and made it there for the first time. I am certain this is just the first of many times we will go all the way.
A number of Downtown buildings and landmarks showed their pride for the World Series last week through the weekend. While I only saw a couple and read about a couple more, Ken at DenverInfill captured amazing images of our “Purple Pride“. My favorite was Union Station - I really love to see it all decked out for the holidays so this was a great taste as we head into that season.
No one can say that Denver did not show how excited and proud it was of the Rockies. The visibility we garnered from the Series is only a hint of what the Democratic National Convention will do for elevating Denver’s image nationally.
Posted in Civic, Culture, Events | No Comments »
On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending the 116th Anniversary of the Oxford Hotel in LoDo. An annual event, this year’s party was really fun. Kicking off the party, the Mayor made the official proclamation that it was Oxford Hotel Day.
There was a martini bar and even a fondue station. The beef wellington was aweseome as was everything else I tried. It is always cool to spend time at the Oxford and they are in the process of remodeling all of their rooms. They had two rooms open for tours and they really have done a great job of updating the bathrooms while still keeping a period feel. Happy anniversary Oxford Hotel!
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Petroleum Building Posted by
I recently read an interesting article regarding the Petroleum Building in the Colorado Real Estate Journal (CREJ Article). Built in 1957, its owners are just in the final stages of a massive renovation. A really cool element that will be installed on the facade later next month will be a louvered metal sunshade and a 170 foot lighted icon.
To refresh my memory I took a field trip to check out the building and get a sense for what those changes will feel like. As you can see in the picture, currently the top of the building has some type of framed out metal pieces which appear to be the beginning of the sunshade. What I think will be really exciting is the red icon element. I tried to find a rendering in color but could not. I did find the property leasing brochure.
The icon looks as if it will be centered right at 16th & Broadway and extends up as a spire just past the sunshade. Two more bands will wrap around the building and intersect the center element at the 6th and 12th floors (these are the darker ligns on the rendering in the article). It should be quite a difference at night and really give the building a new identity. I think it will be a fun and interesting element right at the beginning of the 16th Street mall. I will try and get a photo when it is complete.
Posted in Development | 2 Comments »
Library Bar & Grill Posted by
Downtown is getting a new restaurant! Recently I was walking up the 16th Street Mall and was surprised to see that Sonic had closed their location there by Champa Street. I walked by there again today and saw that there was a public notice of a request for a liquor license in the window of the space right at 16th & Champa. The application indicates that “The Library Bar & Grill” will occupy the space.
I really hope that they are taking the corner space, the former Snappy Nails spot as well as the now defunct Sonic. (from 16th & Champa down to Aspen Gifts). I did some research and found the spec sheet from CB Richard Ellis for the space. (they are leasing the space) From what I found it looks like they will take all of the store front space - about 3,200 square feet. If they can fill in all of that storefront space on the mall it would make a huge difference and improve that corner that has been vacant for quite some time.
This is really exciting because I hope this is not a national chain (I did not find a website) and rather a unique one of a kind retailer that will be a really great amenity for the mall. According to the application notice they are going to have live music and dancing as well. Given the success of the Appaloosa Grill and Earl’s I think that this could really liven up the mall and make it more of a 24/7 environment. I will continue to follow this development and provide updates as needed.
Posted in Development, Dining | 5 Comments »
Recently Sunglass Hut remodeled and downsized their location at the Denver Pavilions. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is going to open it’s second Downtown location in that leftover space.
It is a great spot and I am really happy that there will not be a vacant store front in such prominent location. I am excited to see another unique retailer at this part of the mall. The more variety in our retail tenant mix the better. Congratulations to both Sunglass Hut on their new look and to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on their expansion!
Posted in Development | 1 Comment »
KHAAAAAN!! Posted by
Recently I attended a really fun event at the Starz Encore Film Center on the Auraria Campus. I have to admit that I am not a huge Star Trek fan but was assured that this was a unique and fun way to see Star Trek 2 - The Wrath of Khan. If you ever saw Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in the day this concept will be easy to envision.
The film is shown just a like a regular film except they have comedians who have written jokes and they speak and play music over the film. It was hilarious! They introduced the film with a contest to see who could do the best William Shatner/Captain Kirk impersonation yelling KHAAAAAN! Even better they served Old Chub Beer from a cooler right at your seat during the movie. This event was produced by Mile High Sci-Fi, Comedy Works and the Denver Film Society. They do a different film each month and for October they will do Poltergeist. I am pretty sure I will be attending future shows.
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Crepes n Crepes Posted by
Writer’s Square is getting a new tenant! Crepes n Crepes - a French Creperie will open soon just off of the 16th Street Mall. As far as I know this is the first food retailer in Downtown who will focus solely on Crepes. A long time ago this was a great French bakery that I loved.
It is nice to see new retailers going into Writer’s Square and I think that the more reasons you give people come through it the more vibrant and used it will become. As a connection between the Mall and Larimer Square I think there are a lot of great opportunities. Welcome to Downtown!
Posted in Development, Dining | 2 Comments »
Denver’s Urban Forest Posted by
I was out strolling in Downtown last week and came upon some new banners along California Street by the Convention Center Hotel. I did a bit of research and found out that these banners were a special project by the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) for their Urban Forest project. The banners were installed to coincide with their convention here that brought 3,000 attendees to Downtown.
I think these are very cool and as it turns out they are made entirely out of recycled bottle caps! This portion of California is so critical in connecting conventioneers to the 16th Street Mall and I think these really help improve the pedestrian experience. I hope future projects like this will find a home in Downtown.
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