You may know the Colburn Hotel as a distinctive landmark of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, but do you know its history?
Located at 980 Grant Street, Judge Ernest A. Colburn financed the 10-story structure (at a cost of $750,000) and called on architect William Bowman to design it in 1925. Bowman had already designed several Denver buildings, including the State Office Building at 201 E. Colfax (1921), Byers Junior High School (1921), and the Norman Apartments (1924), when Colburn contracted him for the hotel project.
The Colburn Hotel formally opened on May 25, 1928, providing upscale lodging in a primarily residential neighborhood. In 1930, Colburn added a twin building to the south of the hotel, with the intent to create luxury apartments. Although construction of the apartment building was completed in 1931, its interior was not finished until sometime after 1936. Judge Ernest A. Colburn sold the Colburn Hotel and apartment building in 1932. He died on New Year's Eve, 1935.
As time marched on, the Colburn changed hands and looks several times. Its slogan became "The Hotel With A Personality." Although the hotel hosted lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and stars of the stage, its most noted visitors were Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsberg, who spent time at the hotel in the summer of 1947. It has been reported that they, along with Jack Kerouac, were frequent customers at the hotel's bar.
In 1983, the Colburn Hotel received an $800,000 renovation that returned the hotel's dining room to its original configuration, restored the 14-foot ceilings, and furnished the rooms in colors ranging from what the Rocky Mountain News noted as "vivid red to a sober gray-beige." The Colburn Hotel ended its 64-year-old history operating as a hotel on December 2, 1989.
Today, the Colburn Hotel operates as a mixed-use development featuring apartments, businesses and a restaurant/bar.
Interested in doing your own building history research? Visit the Western History and Genealogy Department's Building History Tutorial.