Buerger Block Building, 1436-1440 Larimer & Keep Building
The Buerger brothers were in the barber supply business. They manufactured creams, tonics and perfumes. Later, they sold barber furniture, repaired barber equipment and could sell an entire barbershop set if you wanted to go into the barber business. The brothers were from Germany. First settling in Pueblo, Colorado the business expanded to Denver, Colorado Springs and El Paso, Texas.
The business was multi-generational and expanded the space needed by first adding onto the first building on Larimer street, then relocating in a larger building up town in 1929. The four brothers, Otto, Hugo R., Max and Julius brought their sons and son-in-law into the business. Otto G., Hugo C., Julius A., Alvin and son-in-law John Schwarz took the business and expanded it. The business moved to 1730-1742 Champa and stayed in the Art Deco inspired building until 1972. It was then moved to 4600 Pecos. It closed in 1980. That means it was in business for about 92 years.
Hugo acted as president of the company, Otto was the treasurer. It is easy to trace the building development since the build dates are prominently displayed on the buildings. The first building was built in 1890. The addition was built in 1908. The business eventually added an investment branch and the original building was turned into a hotel. This expanded the family’s business.
Sales were accomplished by traveling salesmen. At first, the sales force traveled by stage to small towns to pedal their products. Later they traveled by train, then later automobile. El Paso was near military bases and help expand the business. This part of the business was active from 1910 to 1927. It was known to be a bi-lingual, conducting business in both Spanish and English. No doubt this was natural for the family, having to learn a second language to become successful in this county.
There are numerous examples of the company’s labels on vintage barber sites on the Internet. After 1929, colorful barber poles were repaired in a repair shop on Champa Street.
The 1890 building was designed by German architect, Alexander Cazin. He was born in Munster, Germany in 1857. In Denver he was a draughtsman for architect R.S. Roeschlaub. He worked in Denver during what is referred to as the Golden Age of Denver Architecture, 1883-1893. The silver bust of 1893 caused him to return to Germany. He continued his trade there, and design numerous buildings in Germany.
The original plans for the 1890 building were filed in 1889 and calls for a 25’ x 125’ building on lot 7 of block 70. This means the designed building continued to the alley. The Sanford map of 1903-1904 shows the building to the alley, but in reality it wasn’t. Later the buildings were redesigned to have a court yard in back and a separate building called the Keep.
The best rendering of the space is from Dave Eitemiller’s book on Larimer Square. It shows how the block looked when the square was in its infancy.
Number 10I is the Brueger Bros. building, the smaller building in the back is the Keep building.
Front of the Buerger Bros. Building
Rear of Buerger Brothers building. The large brick wall is the Sussex Bldg.
Keep Building in the rear of the Buerger Bros. building.
I have been commenting on the arches that were part of the original Larimer Square design. The architect for the arches was Langdon Morris. Dana Crawford did not care for the arches on the south-east side of Larimer street and replaced Morris.
At the time of the photo the left side of the building was occupied Other Places, a Mediterranean Import store. Accessed from the rear courtyard was Tomcat, men’s accessories. The Keep Building was The Keep Gallery which sold contemporary art. Under the Larimer Square sign seen on the side of the building was the Bratskeller restaurant and bar. Behind the 1890 building was a stairway leading down to LA Bodega, a restaurant that service Mexican food at lunch and Spanish food at dinner (1967). I suspect the restaurant changed to the La Mancha in 1969, serving their famous Hurricane Margarita to quell dinner guest’s nerves, rattled from noisy pipes with no earthy explanation. Stairs to the lower level restaurant are still there, but not ADA friendly.
Some Buerger Brother’s advertising.
Now, the building is home to long time Larimer Square store Scarpaletto, a shoe store. John Atencio Jewelers takes up the right side of the building. In the rear, in the Keep building is Cuvèe Travel, they are an ultra-luxury vacation rental property travel service.
I stopped in at two Cherry Creek institutions this weekend. The first is the Philadelphia Print Shop West. It just moved to 2830 East 3rd Ave. Stop in and see Chris Lane of Antique Road Show Fame. Chuck, part of the team is always on station, is very knowledgeable, and is glad to help out. They deal in antique maps & prints.
My second stop was the Hermitage, at 290 Fillmore, they sell rare books. The store has been in the same location for decades and is always one of my stops in Cherry Creek North. Robert W. Topp is always at his desk, ready to tell you how rare is your rare book. At the next desk is Jim Bell. Jim did work on the Molly Brown house and 9th Street park back in the day. He is always happy to share base-board restoration stories from the Molly Brown house.
Jim Bell & Robert Topp, dealers in rare books.
Additions, comments and corrections are welcomed,
Thanks, JOE S
Sources: Mike McPhee’s book on Dana Crawford
Dave Eitemiller’s Historic Tours
Website: Hair Raising Stories
Tom Noel’s Larimer Street book