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.
My mom worked in the restaurant on the ground floor before I ever met her.
Thanks for commenting, Steve!
2 Of my great-aunts and one great-uncle lived there. We used to visit them and feel like we were in a different world! The aunts were identical twins.
Wonderful story and photos Katie. I love taking one of many "Historic Denver Guides" around town to see and photograph our beautiful buildings. Historic Denver, Inc. has published this wonderful series for us to enjoy.
I liked that I found out that Byers Junior High was done by the same architect. I stumbled upon it one day and was wondering about it. Interesting he did the State Admin Building too. Thanks.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Keegan! You may also want to check out this biographical sketch of architect William Bowman that was produced by the Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. It includes a more complete list of buildings credited to Bowman.
My mother and father managed the hotel in the 1950s to the mid sixties. I grew up in the hotel and we lived there. I went to Dora Moore elementary and Morey Jr High
I bet you have amazing stories from living in the hotel! Thanks for reading and commenting, Jim!
OMG is that you 'Jimmy' ? I grew up in the mansion which sat directly across the street from the Colburn Hotel (on the NE corner of 10th & Grant St.) I too attended Dora Moore elementary school and the two of us used to play in the underground garage of the Coleman. To this day it is still one of my most treasured and vivid childhood memories . .. the cool, dank, dimly lit garage - concrete floors and ramps .. I swear I can still smell the fumes and oil which leaked from the old cars ! I love it ! My Grandmother and Mom sold out the mansion in very early 1960's to the developer who built the old 'Hampshire House' Hotel. We moved out to Lakewood where I and my 2 sisters attended Jeffco schools. Imagine that, I'm writing this just a little over 3 months after your posting was entered,, after I conducted some internet searches of old historic Denver mansions and a history of the Colburn Hotel. We've a common bond from a very special time and place. Hope this finds you in in good health with all your dreams fulfilled. ~ Rusty (lol.. haven't used that name which my older sister gave me since high school).