Denver’s rich radiant history still shines at the historic Hotel Teatro after a magnificent transformation.
Well before the building’s namesake, the Denver Tramway Company existed, the area the eight-story building now occupies housed the Evans Mansion, home of Colorado’s second territorial governor, John Evans (appointed by then-President Abraham Lincoln, a personal friend).
His oldest son, W. G. Evans, held the position of president of Denver Tramway Company around the turn of the century. By then, the company had managed to edge out all competitors, securing control of streetcar transportation in the Denver area. The bustling business needed a building to house not just its offices, but also the rail cars themselves.
W.G. Evans selected up-and-coming Denver architects William E. and Authur A. Fisher to design a tower for offices and two-story barn for the cars. Local lore has it the company competed against Daniels and Fisher Department Store, then constructing a clock tower, to see who could complete the respective project first. The buildings, both highly anticipated landmarks in their day, raced to finish first — but historians still argue over who emerged the victor.
The building featured traditional Renaissance Revival elements of glazed red brick mixed with white terracotta. This style carried into the lobby, where one can still see light-pink Tennessee marble flooring and green Vermont marble base combined with white Arizona marble wainscoting.
Following WWII, streetcars became obsolete in Denver, as did the Denver Tramway Company. The building stood lifeless until it became the nucleus of the University of Colorado at Denver’s Campus. UC Denver added a floor to the car barn, turning it into a three-story edifice of classrooms while faculty spent their office hours in the tower. In the late ’80s, UC moved its facilities to its current Auraria location.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts purchased the car barn portion of the building for its offices, workshop and storage area in 1991. However, the adjacent Tramway building tower stood vacant, without purpose for several years.
In 1997, Astonbridge Partners and David Owen Tryba Architects were commissioned to begin the restoration of the building, with the help of a grant from the Colorado Historical Society and State Historic Fund. Eighteen months later, in 1999, it opened as Hotel Teatro.
The Hotel Teatro (Italian for theater) takes its cues not just from its history, preserving many of the buildings original elements, but also from its current downtown theater-district location.
The neighboring Denver Center Theatre Company contributes much of the décor having provided a captivating collection of black-and-white photographs, costumes and props from 20 seasons of past company productions. Highlights include a beautiful gown worn by Annette Bening in a 1980s production of The Cherry Orchard.
The elegance of the building’s original design and vision can still be seen today in the hotels’ entrance — careful attention was paid to preserve many details. Other elements that are still visible include the original, ornately constructed mail chute, as well as beautifully decorated safes scattered throughout the property. If you want to take a gander at the Tramway Building’s construction competitor, the Daniel and Fisher Department Store Clock Tower is located just a few blocks away.
“We’ve come a long way since 1911,” says Mark Plonkey, general manager of Hotel Teatro. “We’re proud of the building’s rich history and the care we’ve taken to preserve it.
INSIDE HOTEL TEATRO
Today, Hotel Teatro offers a take all-its-own on what it means to be a luxury boutique. Business travelers or getawayers will find luxury, comfort and convenience in the hotel’s suites, all of which feature 12-foot ceilings and soothing décor with a sandstone palette.
Denver chef, Kevin Taylor shook up the city’s foodie scene almost 25 years ago with his take on Southwestern cuisine. Today he operates two newly renovated restaurants within Hotel Teatro: the eponymous Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Denver’s only four-star, four-diamond restaurant, as well as Prima Ristorante, a more casual venue serving modern Italian fare.
It’s Hotel Teatro’s focus on health and well-being that earns it a distinctive status among luxury hotels. In-room well-being offerings include aromatherapy baths and massages. The hotel’s Dreammaker Program, featuring meditation CDs, tranquility fountains and a pillow menu, ensures a restful night’s sleep.
Those wanting to stay fit can avail themselves of the complimentary 24-hour fitness center, privileged access to the nearby Colorado Athletic Club; a daily guided running program; and a Yoga-On-Demand program.
Discerning dogs will enjoy the hotel’s pet-friendly amenities, including complimentary walks and dog-sitting, as well as a Pet-a-Porter closet, to ensure visiting pooches a fashionable, warm and cozy stay. hotelteatro.com, 303.228.1100