Graham Block, 1453-1463 Larimer Street
Originally two buildings, a single building occupied by Ocean Prime restaurant, takes up the north-east corner of 15th and Larimer Street. Ocean Prime modified the building with a angled corner entry. The building that was modified was previously the Z-Gallery furniture store. In 1977 the building was home of the Magic Pan restaurant. At that time according to David Eitemiller it was the only new building on Larimer Square.
For many years, the original brick building was home to Graham’s Pharmacy, run by John J. Reithman. There were some modifications when Reithman was in the building. A third story was built in the middle of the building, address 1457-59, old address system called it 359 Larimer street. The third floor was occupied by the photographer William Gunnison Chamberlain.
W.G. Chamberlain was a Denver Pioneer and lead a very interesting life. He was born in Massachusetts, traveled to Peru, then California, then back to Peru, then back to the U.S. From the East he traveled west, eventually settling in Denver. At first he was interested in silk, then mining. Before arriving in Denver he picked up the photography trade. He opened a studio on Larimer Street, then moved to the Graham Block. The National Stereographic Association credits Chamberlain with 700 plus Colorado photographic scenery scenes.
Chamberlain is one of a number of pioneer photographers. Across the street from Chamberlain’s studio was George D. Wakely’s studio. Through the years other photographers were on Larimer street. The list includes Charles Weitfle who lost 1000 negatives including Chamberlains in a fire. Across from the court house the Duhem Brothers had a studio. William Henry Jackson who is thought to have had 54,000 negatives had a studio at 414 Larimer. Other Denver photographers include Martin Alexander, Alex Martin, George E. Turner, A.E. Rinehart, J.A. Boston, the Nast Brothers, Court J. Simmons and C.O. Johnson.
Many of photographs and stereotypes are still available. On-line commerce has both increased the inventory, and it seems, the prices. The supply is limited and many of the artists did limited work. Stereotypes and studio portraits fell from favor when the box camera came into use.
Early photographs of the Graham building show numerous signs on the building. They include: Graham’s, Ambrotypes, City Drug Store, Rugs, Chemicals, Denver Photographic Rooms, Wm. Graham Druggists, Perfumery, Fancy Goods, Dry Goods, Millinery, A.C. Woodside & Co., Riethmans & Co., and Boots & Shoes. Before Larimer Square the Graham building housed an Army Surplus store. Many photos exist because the sun shines on the building. The light is to the photographers back, the idea way to take photos. It is much easier to find photos of the north east side of Larimer Street (the odd address side) than the south-west side because of this.
The Ocean Prime building, on 15th & Larimer
The back door to 1465 Larimer, still has the scars of Z Gallerie
W.G. Chamberlain stereotype of Central City, Colorado. One of numerous photos he took on his summer trips to the mountains to take pictures of the Colorado scenery
Additions, comments or corrections are welcomed. JOE S