The Bull & Bear Courtyard
Before we head out to Larimer Street we have to explore the back of the Kettle Arcade. This area is called the Bull & Bear Courtyard. The Courtyard gets its name from the re-located terracotta figures (I thought they were sandstone) of a bull and a bear from the Mining Exchange building in Denver.
The Mining Exchange building was a beautiful Richardson Romanesque building at 15th and Arapahoe streets. It was built in 1891 as Denver’s first steel reinforced skyscraper. It stood 7 floors, with a tower that housed an additional 3 floors. Atop stood “the Gold Prospector” by Alphonse Pelzer, an 12’, 500 pound copper sculpture. In the Syrian Arch entrance were the figures of the bull and bear. The entryway also held eight figures of Hercules and four gargoyles. Designed by the firm of Kirchner & Kirchner it was build in 1891 before Colorado’s financial bust of 1893. It lasted until 1963 when DURA valued bare ground more than preservation.
A mining exchange was desirable in new towns, similar to opera houses, it said the town was established and successful. Denver had a mining exchange started in 1879, then 1889. After 1893 when “certain objectionable practices” occurred the exchanged sold to the Denver Stock Exchange in 1899. There was still doubt about the exchange’s reputation and another exchanged was started, called the Denver Consolidated Exchange.
The history of the bull and bear as symbols for the up and down swings of stocks has numerous explanations. Although suspected as false, the easiest explanation helps to remember which is which. The bull charges its prey with a up-swinging head motion. A bear swats with its paw in a downward direction. Political cartoonists, Nast and Beard, used the figures in 1869 and then 1879. They were used before that, however, in England. We use the full size figures to retell Colorado’s history of boom and bust.
The post card shows the mining exchange building, the bull and bush were in the archway on the street level. Below is a pictures as they are now, in the Bull & Bush Courtyard, Larimer St.
The other detail in the courtyard is the statue of the cherub. This is the upper part of a statue that stood a couple of blocks away at 1633 Larimer Street. This was the address of the Manhattan Restaurant, that was founded in 1894 by Richard Pinhorn, a perfectionist from London. The restaurant was expanded numerous times over the years, it was told to a traveler by an employee in 1925 that they served 6000 patrons daily and 7500 on weekends and holidays. Sadly those welcomed did not include African Americans. The establishment was open 24 hours, seven days a week, there was no key for the front door. The eatery was C.S. Morey’s largest coffee account in Colorado. Pinhorn died in 1922, he willed the restaurant to his employees, it stayed in business until April 21, 1941.
The statue was commissioned two years after Pinhorn’s death by the East Denver Civic Association, Downtown Civic Association and the Sportsman’s Co-operative Association. It was moved from Larimer when the street turned seedy and its engraving “Welcome to the City of Denver” wasn’t meant for those finding their way to skid-row. Public spirited Denver Citizens, Hotel & Restaurant Employees from Local 14, Carpenter’s Union Local 59 and the Robert W. Speer Club moved the statue October 23, 1959. The Statue spent about ten years at 17th and Wynkoop before Dana Crawford found it a home in the Bull & Bear courtyard, now without its drinking fountain base. Pinhorn’s resting place is Fairmont Cemetery.
The Kettle Arcade sports one more sign. Above the rear entrance, back to Larimer street, the sign says: “Rendezvous Des Amis”. Roughly meaning: “Favorite gathering place of friends”. This was Dana Crawford’s original plan for Larimer Square, a meeting place where you can gather with friends, something she thought Denver lacked.
Additions, comments and corrections are welcomed.
Thanks to: Robert & Kristen Autobee for their book: Lost Restaurants of Denver
Mike McPhee for his book on Dana Crawford.