We’ve been doing Doors Open Denver for about 10 years now! We’ve been in the rain, in the snow, in the heat, but today was nice – cloudy (until the end) and cool. Grace was at a church event, Hannah didn’t want to go and Bethany wanted to go, but got home too late – so we took Joel with us and started our exploration. It was possible to walk the whole way, so we parked near the Art museum and got started at The Art hotel, it’s right next to the Art museum and has…art in it.
Welcome to the newest luxury hotel in Denver, the ART, a hotel where your stay will be the perfect blend of refined comfort and intimate service. With contemporary design, high-tech amenities and works of art that grace two galleries, spill into the hallways and adorn our every guest room, we are pleased to offer a highly experiential stay.
Designed by Davis Partnership Architects and finished in 2015, the ART pays homage to its iconic next-door neighbors and the museum district. Perfect for cultural explorers, the ART serves as the keystone to the Museum District, harmoniously entwining its iconic neighbors into a sculptural canvas for art and leisure.
There is a really cool 22,000 light art display leading up to the main entrance of the hotel, we’ll go back at some point to see it at night.
Next up was the Odd Fellows Lodge No. 1, we’d been there before, but the Union Lodge No. 1 and Mermaid cakery was not open last year. The Union bar is a mixologists dream, reminiscent of Green Russell – they hand chip the ice, hand crush ice, do all kinds of crazy things while making drinks that have 20 steps to them and it’s a pleasure to watch the bartender craft a drink while you get a lesson on where the drink came from.
But, about the building –
The Odd Fellows Hall is a charming historic building near the intersection of 16th Street Mall and Champa Street. The Late Victorian-Commercial Style building is a now a designated Denver Landmark. It was built in 1889 in the Romanesque Revival style, designed by architect Emmett Anthony and located in Denver’s Central Business District. Originally the Hall housed the Dutch Mill Cafe which opened in 1910 as a cabaret located on the main floor. The two upper floors housed the Odd Fellows, one of the largest and oldest fraternal orders in the U.S. Notable building features include a square-corner tower, classical entablature, finials, arches, a detailed cornice and storefront windows.
The Cafe closed in 1935, and the Odd Fellows sold the property in 1983 with extensive renovations to the building to follow. Still visible on the building are some unique pieces of history: “Union Lodge No. 1” appears above a large arched German glass window on the third floor; signs on the building read: “Odd Fellows Hall,” “Jerry Green Florist” and “The Dutch Mill Cafeteria” and signs on nearby buildings read: “Burt’s” and “Beeman’s Shoes.”
Since we were walking we got to see other buildings that we normally drive by, but don’t stop to look at like:
This one on the block near The Broker.
And the one right next door, built in 1929 that is so Art deco. I wish it was open on DOD, but the outside is prettier than the inside anyway.
And we got to see some art.
Next stop, the courthouse.
Year Built: 1916
Architect: Tracy, Swarthout & Litchfield
Designed as the main Denver Post Office, the building was remodeled in 1983 and 1994 to become the current courthouse. Although a 1994 renovation covered the skylights, the building is brightened by exposure to the interior courtyard and recreations of the original cast bronze sconces. The same architects were hired to design the U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse, and it reveals interesting clues that tell a long and rich Colorado history.
The courthouse occupies an entire city block and stands four stories in height, set above the street in its rusticated base. There are a series of grand stairs that lead to the main entrance and are marked by 16 three-story ionic columns adorned with eagles. On the frieze above the main entrance is inscribed the cities to the east and west of the building, symbolizing the flow of mail across the country. Inscribed on either side of the colonnade are the names of the U.S. Postmasters General. Also inscribed on the internal wall piers are names such as Buffalo Bill Cody, one of the most well known Pony Express riders. These riders are an important part of the history of the postal service in the American West. The main entry lobby spans the width of the building, with a terrazzo floor and vaulted ceilings. Notable artwork includes a pair of Rocky Mountain sheep, along with four murals by artist Herman T. Schaldermundt, completed in 1918 and recently restored through GSA’s Fine Arts Program.
We had to go through security to get inside and there was no taking indoor photos – so sad. Each courtroom was different, I loved the library courtroom, bookcases of books filled in rotunda style and a skylight added natural light. There was a museum about the life of Byron White on one end and at the other was a museum about the six states represented in the court. They left the original post office boxes, the elevators had the old school dials showing what level the elevator was on, the murals were vibrant and the place exuded justice.
It was getting to be lunch time and our next stop had brunch, so I finally got to eat at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox. Now, this next stop might seem weird, but I can’t help it that Hostel Fish and Ophelia’s are housed in a former brothel/adult bookstore/peepshow.
That said, the Hostel is pretty awesome. You can get a room with bunks or a room with one bed. each room is decorated differently and downstairs there is a bar and kitchen for people staying there.
There wasn’t anyone in the main room, but this looked pretty original.
Travelers are used to paying hefty nightly rates for unique, luxurious hotel accommodations in prime locations, but that changed for downtown Denver last summer. Entrepreneur and owner Chad Fish is excited to unveil Hostel Fish, an upscale, 80-bed property located at 1217 20th Street in a newly renovated historic property. The hostel’s design is a mashup of classical, modern and shabby chic that pays homage to the historical beauty of the 120-year-old building. The interior design of Hostel Fish was a collaborative endeavor being lead by local Denver designer, David Schiach, of Shike Design, who worked with other interior designers on individual rooms and tied in the iconic furniture of Denver-based designers, Fin Art.
Architect: Boss Architecture for Ophelia’s and Ted Schultz, TLS Architecture For Hostel Fish
Year Built: 1890
Ophelia’s has taken many forms. Located in the historic 1894-era Victorian Airedale building, it was a brothel-turned-peep-show-turned-adult-video-library. The building, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places, houses Ophelia’s, the latest project of Justin Cucci and the Edible Beats team. Ophelia’s serves as a restaurant, bar and live-music venue with a boudoir-style decor that honors the building’s past and Ophelia, the muse. Continuing the Edible Beats tradition of delicious, responsibly sourced food, the upscale, gastrobrothel-inspired menu includes fresh, craveable takes on flatbread pizza, small plates, burgers and shareable charcuterie boards.
Electric Soapbox’s sunken stage embodies a swanky Moroccan speakeasy feel and features a top-of-the-line sound system. Paying subtle homage to the unique history of the building, the design mash-up consists of Justin Cucci’s trademark “recycled & repurposed craziness” and features 4,000 collected Jager bottles serving as the back of the basement bar, a backdrop of 500 transistor radios on the stage, vintage movie-theater wallpaper and a host of old sex-show booths and marquees that celebrate sexuality. A few more highlights of the design materials include 1,500 yard sticks, more than 7,000 square feet of handmade ceramic tiles, 65 retro light fixtures, 100 X-ray rollers and a few dozen pinball machine tops.
I had to try the chicken and waffles – Lavash Crusted Chicken Thigh, Mashed Potato Waffle, Apple Butter, Bacon, Kale Slaw & Chili Honey.
I know from experience that you can’t say there is a ‘best’ chicken and waffles, it’s not quantifiable. But, the spicy chili mixed with the sweet apple butter paired well with the smooth waffle and crunchy chicken. I really like the slaw that came with it too. James had the blackened shrimp and grits – Anson Mill’s Blue Corn-Chipotle Grits, Chorizo, Peas, Watercress, Capers & Cilantro Pesto. I think it was the blue corn grits that made that pretty purple color, no matter the color, the dish was great (I had a bite.)
Joel had the grilled hanger steak and eggs – Farro Hash, Grilled Chilis, Queso Fresco, Pico de Gallo & Diablo Salsa. He said the steak was the bomb, but they got his egg order wrong (he wanted boiled, they served sunny side up.) Bottomless mimosas flowed (and that’s why we skipped the last stop, The Temple, we still had to walk back to the car.)
Not bad though, we found three new bars (Fire at The Art, Union Lodge at Odd Fellows and Ophelia’s) a new restaurant (Ophelia’s) and found out some cool stories about Denver’s past (even though some of them were seedy.) We also walked almost 3 miles roundtrip and it was the perfect day ot do it.
Missed DOD today? Check the website for open places tomorrow and go explore the city!