Winter of Reading: Discover the History of Denver’s Buildings

Welcome to the midway point of Winter of Reading (Invierno de Lectura) and a guest blog post by Stacey!  

Are you the type of person who walks by historic buildings and wishes you knew the story behind them? One of this year’s suggested activities for Winter of Reading is to find out the history of a Denver building with our map, found at https://history.denverlibrary.org/historic-buildings-map. The map is courtesy of our Western History & Genealogy Department, which can help you dive into Denver as seen in black & white photographs.

Grand homes abound in the map, taking you back to a time when millionaires would custom build their homes. The Creswell Mansion at 1244 Grant Street goes back to 1889 when Joseph Creswell was a local businessman. Leading Denver architect J.J. Huddart built the 4,000 square foot home to face west to the mountains at a time when the view must have been majestic. Huddart was so proud that he reportedly used a drawing of the interior in his advertisements. The mansion is currently used as office space.

Another old, but not as grand, house is the skinny Curry-Chucovich townhouse at 1439 Court Place. The Curry-Chucovich house is the oldest remaining residential structure in downtown Denver. However, long gone are its glory days when its owner Vasco Chucovich used to pal around with Mayor Speer; instead the house now stands tall and alone, surrounded by parking lots. 

The Molly Brown House at 1340 Pennsylvania Street is one you may have already visited, as it’s a local attraction. See inside the house, also called the House of Lions according to its application for historic designation about 50 years ago, with our digital collections. Haven’t visited yet? Use our museum passes to tour it with three of your friends.

If you prefer to read about Denver’s early history and neighborhoods, the Images of America series has published 13 books focused on the city and its people. Read about buildings lost to time, Park Hill, or Sixteenth Street as the main retail center of Denver after the state’s richest man built a skyscraper at the corner of Sixteenth and Larimer.

Want to find out how old your building is, who built or lived in your house, how to take care of your historic home, or photographs of your home? The Denver Building History Tutorial can walk you through all those activities and more. Research hounds of local neighborhood histories will find treasures untold during a visit to the Western History & Genealogy Department on the 5th level of the Central Library.

Denver’s city limits won’t bind your curiosity. The historic buildings map includes the metro area so you can find out about Wink’s Panorama Lodge near Pinecliffe, the Keystone Hotel in Castle Rock, Fitzsimons General Hospital in Aurora, and the Dickens Opera House in Longmont that is disappointingly not named after the author.

If this was your last activity in the program, bring your brochure to any of the DPL locations to pick up your glass or mug!

Images seen here top to bottom: The Creswell Mansion, Curry-Chucovich townhouse, The Molly Brown House, Wink's Panorama Lodge, Keystone Hotel, Fitzsimons General Hospital, and the Dickens Opera House. 

Written by Hana on February 5, 2019