Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday's Adventure: Capitol Hill Walking Tour

Amber and I set out for our monthly adventure today, with lunch at the Capitol Hill Tavern, before meeting up with the Historic Denver walking tour at the Molly Brown House.

The Tavern was originally the first flower shop in Denver at the turn of the century and stretched for blocks (now parking lots). 

They've done a lot of restoration on the tavern, and the ceiling in particular is spectacular. 


the food was fantastic, too!

The weather, on the other hand, was fighting us. It was supposed to be warming up, but instead we ended up with very grey skies and the temperature was actually dropping on the walk, so it was quite chilly, in the upper 40°s. Guess who didn't bring a jacket?

The Molly Brown House


The tour started outside of the M.B. House with the explanation that the Capitol Hill area was actually where the rich established their homes in the first explantion of Denver, as the "riff-raff" and noise and pollution from a booming city meant the better heeled wanted up and out. So here's where they settled . . . until the next wave when too many undesirables were partitioning off the large homes into boarding houses, and the flight began again. 

It wasn't until the late 70s, when the area was famous for crime and drugs and homelessness and blight that a movement to preserve what was left of the homes that had not been demolished took off in earnest. 

Now, with the gentrification of the area, very high end clients lease expensive office space in some of these places, or very posh Bed and Breakfasts make their living on tourists. Or they are rented as very expensive loft units. 

This one was so large, even the panorama mode on my phone couldn't get it all in.

"Denver Square Style"

Our guide didn't stop at this one, but I loved the Art Deco entrance

And this 60s high rise

Originally the Hill Mansion, later the Jewish Country Club of Denver post World War II, and now very high end law offices

During the Hill Mansion days, home to the "Sacred 36"

In 1905 the Hills built a large mansion on Capitol Hill at Tenth and Sherman Street, which still exists although it now houses law offices. In it they had a large drawing room that was 72 feet long, and which Louise found would comfortably accommodate nine tables for card games with four people at each table. Every month or two she would invite 36 ladies whom she considered the Crème de la Crème of Denver’s high society to play whist, or later bridge. These ladies became known as Denver’s “Sacred Thirty-Six”, and it was to this group that Molly Brown aspired, but was never invited, causing her to label Louise Hill as “the snobbiest woman in Denver”.

Around 1914 Louise met a dashing, polo playing socialite named Buckeley Wells. He was also the president of the Smuggler-Union gold mine, had other mining interests, and was a General in the Colorado National Guard. He and Louise hit it off and soon became involved in a torrid love affair. Apparently Crawford Hill not only knew about this, but he tolerated it, for the three of them sometimes dined together, and occasionally went on trips together. In the foyer of their mansion Louise hung a large picture of Crawford on one wall, and on another wall she had an even larger picture of Buckeley.

Wells’ wife Grace was not as tolerant, and in 1918 she divorced him. In 1922 Crawford Hill died and, since they were now both single, Louise thought Buckeley would marry her. Instead he eloped with a blond divorcee from Nevada, and an irate Louise was heard to say “I’ll break him!” Using her social and political contacts she got many of his financial backers to withdraw their support, and in 1931, on the verge of bankruptcy, Buckeley Wells committed suicide. ~Louise Sneed Hill and Denver's Sacred Thirty-Six

Across the street and down a block is Poetry Row, so named for 11 3-story apartment buildings all done in the Art Deco and Art Moderne styles, each named for a literary figure (but not necessarily a poet...)


Neither Amber nor I could place Eugene and, having looked him up, I'm not surprised.

Once the Governor's House

back of the house, a bit less kept up

Capitol Dome looks puny amid the high rises

One dog upstairs, one dog down. 

Although we were actually standing on the street to talk about this house: 1208 Logan St.

which is the only wooden clapboard home still standing in Capitol Hill. Fires got the others before the law was passed that all new structures incorporate masonry in the area. The lilac trees are a century old. It was built in 1886 and has only had three owners.

I just liked the font

lilacs in bloom everywhere!

and finally, to warm back up, we popped into the coffee house two houses down from Molly Brown, which was originally the Penn Garage, where the wealthy would store their vehicles nightly. The horses still took up the stable space at home. Ah, urban development.


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