1431-1433 Larimer Street, Frontenac Hotel
Leather is one of man’s most versatile material. Denver Leather Company occupied the bottom floor of the Frontenac building in 1923. It advertised “wholesale leather findings and shoe store supplies.” Even now, half the worlds leather is used for shoes. Tanned leather was an important material in the old west. Boots, saddles, furniture and harness all used leather. Tanneries pollute and smell, they would be located away from the town center. Even as late as 1923, Denver had three leather stores on Lawrence and one on Larimer street. The Tinctorial Company, manufacturers of leather dressings, was also located at this address, 1433 Larimer Street. This shows the trend of Larimer Street going from a fancy retail street in the mid-to-late 1800’s to a wholesale/industrial area of town by the early twentieth century.
In 1920, the Frontenac Hotel was listed under “Lodging Houses” in the city directory. Also listed as lodging houses on Larimer street was The Antlers at 1449, the Buerger at 1436, the Irvin at 1414 and the Lanktree Hotel at 1407. By 1933 you can add the Royal Hotel at 1410, the Sussex at 1434 1/2 and the Neil House at 1427. Larimer was a street of low income, laborer housing.
The name Frontenac conjures up a high end, exclusive railroad hotel that was established in Quebec City, Canada in 1893. The Canadian hotel was named after Louis de Buade, Count of Frontenac, governor of New France from 1672-1682, and then again in 1689-1698. Perhaps the Larimer Street hotel was named after this luxury establishment to instill a sense of the upper crust on Larimer Street.
References to French roots in Colorado Territory are few, even with the rich history of the French fur trappers that were in the area in the 1700’s and earlier 1800’s. Two important French explorers in our history were Antoine Janis and St. Vrain. Janis came to the area around the Cache La Poudre River in the spring of 1828. In this area, the town of Colona was established in 1860, later changing its name to LaPorte. The second Frenchman of note is Ceran de Hault de Lassus de Saint Vrain. He was William Bent’s partner at Fort Bent. He established Fort St. Vrain in present day Weld County. He was in that area in the Spring of 1837. Other than Sperte’s Lafitte Restaurant on Larimer street we don’t mention much about French culture in Colorado. The mountain man lost his primary product, the beaver pelt, when fashions changed from beaver hats to silk hats. His reason to search in the wilderness was gone.
It is ironic that many folk’s favorite Italian restaurant on Larimer Street, Josephina’s, was located in the French named Frontenac Building. Even so, it was Josephina’s Paella, a Spanish dish, that I remember most. It was partly the success of Josephina’s that lead to Randy Rutherford, Joe Vostrejs and Jeff Hermanson to step in and develop Larimer Square into Larimer Square Associates.
Top to Bottom:
The “Bar” sign in the doorway.
Tribute to Randy Rutherford.
The Frontenac and Corridor 44.
1923 city directory, lodgings.
From David Eitemiller’s book, the original Josephina’s.
Any additions, comment or corrections are welcomed.
Thanks, JOE S