Saturday, October 3, 2009

A visit to a wonderful building on Wazee St.

This week I met with the owner of a building on Wazee, an old warehouse once used to store mining equipment, formerly owned by the Hendrie-Bolthoff company, which also owned buildings on Wynkoop St. (Wine-koop to the old Denver residents, or even Wy-in-koop). The building was designed by Frank Edbrooke, who also designed the Brown Palace, the Oxford Hotel, the Tabor Opera House, etc.

This was a revelation to me. A warehouse building designed by an architect?

Walking around LoDo later, I discovered a number of the signs that explained the history of the neighborhood's buildings. Indeed, many of the buildings were designed by architects, not just as warehouses but with corporate office spaces. The Wazee building sported some unusual features, including one of the largest freight elevators in the Western U.S. The windows are also much larger than in neighboring buildings, due to the support of steel beam lintels.

I asked what was there before the warehouses went up at the latter part of the 19th and the early 20th centuries. The speculation is small houses for railroaders and others who worked in and around the yards just adjacent. Houses that were highly vulnerable to Cherry Creek/South Platte flooding.

This visit opened my eyes to the necessity of bringing people into the picture, literally. As I have enjoyed Sam's photos of the skateboarder on 15th Street and the elderly couple crossing 16th Street a few Sundays ago, I realize there is indeed life in Lower Downtown and it should be documented. While there are still plenty of cars (that's Denver), it reminds me that I need to speak to people who work and live down there; who've done the renovations; and above all, remember the place before.

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