A sparkling jewel in a rejuvenated landmark, Hotel Teatro is set in the heart of old Denver. Once the Arapaho camped here near the creek they named for its spicy wild choke cherries.
First of the newcomers during the Colorado Gold Rush was John Evans, the second territorial governor. Governor Evans built a neat brick cottage for his family at 14th and Arapahoe streets in 1863.
John Evans presided over Denver's first railroad, the Denver Pacific. Evans joined Rocky Mountain News Editor William N Byers, hotelier Henry C Brown and other movers and shakers to incorporate the Denver City Tramway Company in 1886 to bring street railways to the Mile High City.
In 1910 the "Famous Wrecking Company" demolished the old Evans home at 14th and Arapahoe. W.G Evans retained two of Denver's up and coming architects, William E. and Arthur A. Fisher, to design an eight-story office "tower" and adjacent three-story car barn. The Fisher brothers' design combined modern steel skeleton construction and Chicago style office space with a traditional Renaissance Revival style edifice of glazed red brick and glazed terra cotta. The Renaissance theme extended into the interior with it's resplendent light pink Tennessee marble flooring, a dark green Vermont marble base and white veined Arizona marble wainscoting. The lobby sparkled with its high coffered ceiling and chandeliers. Marble trim and brass fixtures graced the eight-story, 42,000 square foot tower. The president has the corner office on the eighth floor.
This Renaissance Revival gem opened in 1911 along with another architectural ode to Neoclassical Beaux Arts, the Daniels & Fisher Tower, two blocks up Arapahoe Street.
Much Denver history revolves around the Tramway edifice, which has been designated both a Denver and a National Register landmark. During the 1920 Tramway Strike, it became a fortress with armed guards on the roof protecting the strikebreakers housed inside. Seven people died in the strike and bullet holes scarred the building, souvenirs of its central role in Denver's labor dispute.
At a special August 4, 1956 meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel, the University of Colorado Board negotiated a $687,500 purchase of the Tramway Tower. To accomodate students, CU spent $1 million to reconfigure the interior and give the exterior a face lift.
In 1973, CUDC won independence from the mother campus in Boulder. It was given full atonomy and renamed and reorganized as the University of Colorado at Denver. Students quipped about attending UCLA - the University of Colorado between Lawrence and Arapahoe Streets.
From 1988 to 1997 the once-proud Tramway Tower sat empty.
Tramway Tower's reincarnation began with its 1994 purchase from the University of Colorado by Tramway Hotel LLC. Led by veteran Denver developers, Micheal J. Brenneman and Jeffrey B. Selby, this partnership retained David Owen Tryba Architects, P.C., to serve as both the architect and interior designer.
After a significant rehabilitation, the landmark reappears in 1998 as Hotel Teatro. Teatro borrows its name and a theme from the adjacent Denver Center for the Performing Arts, which endowed the hotel with some of its most exquisite stage set, props and costumes from past productions.
Exerpts from Teatro Historic Perspective by Thomas J. Noel ~Professor of History, University of Colorado at Denver and former student and teacher in the Tramway/Teatro building.