SUSSEX BUILDING, 1426-1430 Larimer St
Located in mid-block on the south-west side of Larimer Street, the Sussex Building was built in 1880. This was the same year as the Tabor Building, the premier office building in town at the time, two and a half blocks away. It also was the same year the Windsor Hotel opened. The Sussex is built with orange sandstone in the Romanesque Revival style. At four stories it matches the height of the tallest buildings on the street.
There was retail on the first floor, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors were lodging. It was working man’s lodging. In 1894, a machinist for the Midland Foundry works, Herbert Fry lived there. William McKinney was a brakeman for the CRI&P Ry (Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific) and this was listed as his residence. A third tradesman, Edward Tharp a paperhanger, working for S.R. Weigand, called this home. In 1902 the first floor was retail space for the Denver Tent & Awning Company.
By 1960 it was the Artkraft furniture and fixture store. When Rike Wooten owned it in the mid-1960’s it was the Capitol Fixture Store. When Larimer Square was first renovated the Sussex building’s first floor door way and store front was removed to make the arcade front that was part of this side of the street. This made the heavy stone building look like it was standing on stilts. Eventually the front was rebuilt to give it the original looking street presence it has now.
In Larimer Square’s early days the Sussex building was home to four businesses in the rear. Gusterman’s Jewelry was located at the entry in back near the bull’s head. Candles Tambien was in the space now occupied by Bistro Vendome. Next door was The Sobriety, an ice cream parlor. Next to this was Lokstok ’N’ Barel, a gift shop. My early Larimer Square brochure shows the main portion of the Sussex building unoccupied, at least there is no retail stores listed facing Larimer street.
Now, Blue Ruby, the clothing store is gone. It was the store that had the Triumph motorcycle in the window. Element Furnishing has moved one space to the left taking Blue Ruby’s space. A new store, Qinti, a natural fiber clothing store, is moved into the space above Russell’s Smoke House restaurant. Russell’s is accessed by the stairway leading down in the Kettle Arcade.
The two restaurants in the Sussex building, Bistro Vendome and Russell’s are both part of restaurant groups. Russell’s is part of Bonanno Concepts, which also includes Osteria Marco across Larimer Street. It has been there since 2010. Bistro Vendome is the second of Beth Gruitch and Jennifer Jasinski’s group of restaurants which include La Rioja and Euclid Hall. They purchased Bistro in 2006. When I have a chance, I check in at both places. Casey, in Russell’s, has always made sure I was comfortable. Bistro Vendome has been one of my favorite’s for years. White table cloths and a neatly dressed wait staff is hard to resist.
Romanesque means large stone arches and heavy lintels above the rectangular windows. The cornice has a great presence with the word “SUSSEX” . At one time it was the “best flop house” in the city. The original Larimer Square renovation has the Sussex building standing on tall square pillars. The pillars look too small for the building and it appears it could just fall forward into Larimer street.
Photo from David Eitemiller’s book, (1977).
I considered this article done but I just couldn’t verify the date the Sussex building was built and it bothered me. The Sanborn map of 1887 does not show the Sussex building. But after more research I discovered that the Robinson map of 1887 was also incorrect. It did not show City Hall, built in 1874.
I thought I would go back through the City Directories and see if I could find a discrepancy. I could not find any thing that proved the Sussex building was built other than 1880. But, I did find a fairly well known Denver resident lived at 346 1/2 Larimer. 346 1/2 would be either the rear of the Sussex building or the door to the north, leading to the upper floors. Charles E. Weatherhead had his hat shop at this address. I found Weatherhead in the 1879 city directory. He was listed as bleacher of straw-goods. In 1881 his residence is listed at 344 1/2 Larimer. In 1883 it shows three employees, Susie Clark, M. Hartley and William Olmstead. In 1887 the shop had five employees. Charles Weatherhead was living at 1136 10th Avenue. In 1894 the business moved to 1620 Champa. Charles died in 1920. Sometime before 1923 the Weatherhead hat company moved to 1722 Stout. Sara, his wife, died in 1934, she was still listed as living at 2555 West 34th, the house they built together. They had three daughters, and a possibly a son, Bart. The Weatherhead legacy is on Speer Boulevard. There is a building that still advertises The Weatherhead Hat company, established 1876. I didn’t find out when the building on Speer was built but I have seen it there since I moved to Denver in 1972. According to the Golden Triangle website, the building at 1210 Speer is still occupied by a great nephew of Charles. The hat business closed in the mid-1970’s.
The Weatherhead hat building on Speer . (photo by Rita Sokolowski)
During the time that Charles E. Weatherhead had his shop at 346 1/2 the address changed. It was changed to 1434 Larimer Street in 1887. Today the addresses are again reassigned: 1426 is Qinti, 1428 is Element and 1430 is the Larimer Square Associates.
Additions, comments and corrections are welcomed,
Thanks, JOE S
I used Tom Noel’s Larimer book, Phil Goodstein’s book on Denver Streets and the DPL maps/directories for this article. Other sources are listed in the article.