Lincoln Hall, 1413-1419 Larimer Street
I searched the city directories for any reference to Lincoln Hall. The earliest reference I found was 1884 when the Rocky Mountain News reported in a October 14th article that the Republican Party had a meeting at Lincoln Hall. I found no mention of the name before that time. The 1887 City Directory lists William F. McMann as a musician at Lincoln Hall. Sometime after 1887 Frederick Durocher started a soda water business in the basement of the building. He went on to success, building a three story building up Larimer Street for his water plant. Fred Mueller was a salesman for the J.H. Wilson Saddlery Company (1749-1751 Larimer). He started his own store in 1891 at 1413-1419 Larimer Street.
Fred Mueller Saddlery and Harness Company was the building’s longest tenant. It appears, at first, he shared the building. The 1894, 1900 and 1905 City Directories all list meetings of fraternal organizations. The Great Council of Colorado met there, as did the State Camp of Colorado, the Knights of Pythias, and the Stone Masons Union.
In 1901, during the times the fraternal orders were meeting the Rocky Mountain News reported that the “Dancing Academy” at Lincoln Hall was closed for “disturbances”. The building was known as a rowdy place.
Eventually Fred Mueller’s company took over the entire building. In 1917 the business was sold to the employees and changed the name to Fred Mueller Saddles & Ranchwear. This name was to show more clearly what was sold at the store. Fred died in 1924. The business continued into the 1960’s, adding other locations.
Fred Mueller company made saddles, as did other companies in Denver. The Leather Workers Journal in 1903 showed seven saddleries that had union employees. A few years earlier, 1899 the city directory listed 27 harness and saddle makers. The best in the city was H. H. Heiser at 1530 Blake Street. Fred Mueller’s saddles were compared favorably with Heiser’s saddles. There are numerous catalogs from the Fred Mueller company on-line from different antique and auction houses. They are fun to look through, and while browsing you are aware that these are limited production products. They are not imported, made by foreign cheap labor. Saddles were tooled by hand with wooden frames.
In 1986, Denis M. Searles wrote an article about the last saddle maker in Denver. The Colorado Saddlery company was the last to leave downtown Denver. In 1986 they still had three of nine saddle makers stalls working on custom, handmade saddles. At one time, around the middle of the last century, Colorado Saddlery was producing 200-225 saddles a month. By 1986 the number shrunk to 75, still an amazing number when you realize these are hand made. Sadly the saddles made by H. H. Heiser, Colorado Saddlery and Fred Mueller were built to last 100 years, lasting longer than the companies producing them.
The mansard roof changes the original building to a 2nd Empire Baroque style. A treasure in downtown Denver.
This from DPL, photo X-23480. It shows Fred Mueller’s when rent was cheap on Larimer. Fred Mueller’s did a lot of their sales from their catalog. Working cowboys didn’t have the luxury to come to Denver for their gear. The business lasted about 75 years.
The building housed the Golden Oak antique shop in 1977.
Additions, comments or corrections are welcomed.
Thanks, JOE S