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Earnest A. Colburn, Subscriber #8

The Colburn Hotel, 980 Grant (written 5-28-2017)

On this 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 how could I possibility tie that into Denver Walking Tours?  OK, I accept the challenge.

The Colburn Hotel sits at the south end of Grant Street’s Millionaires Row and a block from Quality Hill Park.  Judge Ernest A. Colburn commissioned architect William N. Bowman to build an upscale high-rise hotel on Capitol Hill.  Built 89 years ago, the hotel, a hallmark of Capitol Hill, did not continue its upscale image into the 21st Century.  Section 8 housing occupies the ten floors of Capitol Hill’s first high-rise.  Built in 1928, it was a such a success that a second building was built to the south.  The 1929 depression ended the success of the Colburn and the judge sold out in 1932.  He passed away in 1936.

Judge Colburn was an El Paso county judge that struck it rich in mining.   He owned the Gold King mine, and the Ajax Mine in Victor.  Like many successful miners he moved to Denver to spend his fortune.  The judge owned the Colburn Block (building) at Colfax and 15th street.  The Colburn building housed many mining companies.  Among them was the Ajax Mining Company, Dubuque Mining & Tunnel Company, Gibraltar Investment Company, the Goldfield Sierra Mining Company and the Enterprise Mining and Land Company.  Only the Enterprise company lists a phone in 1907, with a phone number of Main 1029.  Mining was not the only business in the building.

The judge had two sons, Herbert C. and Earnest A. Jr.  With financing from A. E. Sr. they began the Colburn Automotive Company.  The business was located in the Colburn Block building at 15th and Colfax.  They produced cars between 1906 and 1911.

In 1912 the City Beautiful Movement was stirring in Denver.  Mayor Speer began to explore a Civic Center master plan.  The Colburn Block Building, at 15th and Colfax, was in the way of progress.  One proposal for Civic Center envisioned building a green way between the Capitol and the Arapahoe County Court House.  This would have gone through the present day Post Building and the Adams Mark Hotel to meet up with the Court House on Court Place.  The second option is what we have, the spacious grounds west of the Capitol.  Either plan meant the Bates Triangle, the plot of land where the Colburn Block building stood, had to go.  Colburn owned five lots on the triangle, it was valued at $125,000.  The city took it over to build the curve Colfax makes at Civic Center Park.  The Denver City Magazine dated October 11, 1913 said the building would be raised in the spring of 1914.  The triangle is where the Voorhies Memorial now rests.  The Voorhies Memorial is the gateway with the fountain where children are riding the backs of seals.  The Voorhies Memorial would not actually be built until 1919.

Colfax was a straight road, east to west.  The bump in the road around Civic Center is in front of the present Post building.  That was the Bates Triangle.

Colburn 1

The Colburn Block Building stood in the Bates Triangle.  The address was 102 15th street, so I assume that puts it in lot number 32.  Along with various mining companies and the Colburn Automobile Company the building also held the Colorado Automobile club.  Below, the Voorhies Memorial now occupies the triangle.

Colburn 2

Judge Colburn was not only into fast cars, he was also into fast horses.  He raced his horses at City Park Race Track.  The names of his horses included Mary Louise, High Ball and Silver Sign.  Stables for the horses was located at 1500 South Broadway.  The building still stands, and is now an antique store.

Colburn 3

Around back there is a still a Dutch door for horses.

Colburn 4

colburn 5

A Colburn Touring car sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Colburn Automobile Company.  It looks like from the oil spots, it wasn’t the first time a car was parked on the sidewalk.  The window has a Colburn Logo painted on it, the reflection makes it hard to see.  The brothers started the business building two models, a racing shell and a roadster.  Then they changed strategies and build a large touring car.  The cars had a top speed of 70 mph.  The city was proud to have the company, as a Colburn Automobile was top center on the Denver Lithograph Company’s Bird’s Eye View map of Denver in 1908.

Colburn 6

The 1915 City Directory list the automobile company at 416th 10th avenue.  They stopped building cars in 1911, but stayed in business.  This address is around the corner from A.E. Colburn’s house at 978 Logan.  I suspect they must have moved what was left of the automobile company into the garages near the house.  I also suspect the son was living here, as the Denver Times reported that the Judge was to build a “fine” residence at 10th and Grant in 1902.  The Grant Avenue house was later removed to build the ten story Colburn Hotel, completed in 1928.  The house at 978 Logan was torn down for a apartment building sometime later.

The architect for the Colburn Hotel was William Bowman.  Bowman also did the Cosmopolitan Hotel, now gone, it was across from the Brown Palace.  He designed the Telephone Building which we view on the Larimer Square tour from the D & F Tower.  He also did the Belmont and Buckingham Hotels that are part of the Capitol Hill tour.

Hotel living was different in the past.  You would rent a room for a month or a season, instead of renting a house or apartment.  Here are a couple of ads that show this style of living.

Colburn 8

colburn 7

Both hotels advertise winter rates

The Colburn Hotel was built with this style of living in mind.  The hotel was a success, so much so that a second building was start in 1928.  But the depression hit.  The interior of the Colburn Apartments were not finished until the mid-thirties.  A. E. Colburn sold out in 1932.

Colburn 9

 

The tie in with the Indy 500 is that when the car company failed in 1911, the brothers were able to acquire a distributorship for National Automobiles.  A National automobile won the second Indy 500 in 1912.  National Automobiles went out of business in 1924.  There is no known existing Colburn Automobile.

Additions, comments and corrections are welcomed.

Thanks this Memorial Day to those who served, JOE S

Sources: Tom Noel & Craig Leavitt’s book on Herndon Davis lead me to the Colburn Stables.  I also used the DPL website for pictures, the City Directories and Municipal Facts.  Phil Goodstein had some comments about Judge Colburn in his Capitol Hill book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1915 City Directory list the automobile company at 416th 10th avenue.  They stopped building cars in 1911, but stayed in business.  This address is around the corner from A.E. Colburn’s house at 978 Logan.  I suspect they must have moved what was left of the automobile company into the garages near the house.  I also suspect the son was living here, as the Denver Times reported that the Judge was to build a “fine” residence at 10th and Grant in 1902.  The Grant Avenue house was later removed to build the ten story Colburn Hotel, completed in 1928.  The house at 978 Logan was torn down for a apartment building sometime later.

The architect for the Colburn Hotel was William Bowman.  Bowman also did the Cosmopolitan Hotel, now gone, it was across from the Brown Palace.  He designed the Telephone Building which we view on the Larimer Square tour from the D & F Tower.  He also did the Belmont and Buckingham Hotels that are part of the Capitol Hill tour.

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on June 11, 2018 by in Larimer Street.
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