DANA CRAWFORD: FROM LARIMER SQUARE TO LO DO,
HISTORIC PRESERVATION IN DENVER
Dan William Corson
B.A., Miami University, 1972
J.D., University of Colorado, 1976
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
1998 by Dan William Corson
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Dan William Corson
has been approved
Corson, Dan William (M.A., History)
Dana Crawford: From Larimer Square to Lo Do, Historic Preservation in Denver
Thesis directed by Professor Thomas J. Noel
This paper analyzes the career of Dana Crawford, a redeveloper of historic
buildings in Denver, Colorado. Crawford, a Salina, Kansas native who came to
Denver in 1954 after attending special business courses for women at Radcliffe
College and became active in charitable activities. An interest in the history and
architecture of Denver led to her effort in the early 1960s to save from the Denver
Urban Renewal Authority and renovate into upscale shops and restaurants the
1400 block of Larimer Street, a skid row area. The paper focuses on the twenty-
two year history of Crawford's involvement with Larimer Square as the first step
to her continuing cutting edge preservation projects, most notably in the Lower
Downtown Historic District.
In 1997, Crawford had twenty-nine file boxes of Larimer Square documents
catalogued by a University of Colorado at Denver graduate student in preparation
to donating them to the Stephen H. Hart Library of the Colorado Historical
Society. These materials, which include financial records and confidential legal
memoranda, are the basis for this previously untold story of the many struggles to
maintain Larimer Square as an economically viable shopping center. The materials
also include private correspondence and memoranda to investors regarding the
historic preservation regulations and incentives which some claim Crawford abused
for financial gain.
The paper specifically relates how Crawford obtained control over the various
properties by using a variety of legal mechanisms, how she overcame several years
of financing difficulties until conventional long term financing was obtained,
management and how she dealt with tenant relations problems and liquor license
ordeals. The paper also examines Crawford's use of historic designation for
marketing and financial purposes.
Finally, the paper ends with Crawford's projects in Lower Downtown Denver
and examines how her risk taking mentality and business acumen which started
with the Larimer Square project continues.
Much of Denver's historic preservation movement has involved Dana Crawford,
who, in 1995, won the highest award of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award. Without her, historic
preservation in Denver would be a much shorter and simpler story.
This abstract accurately represents the contents of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Thomas J. Mbel
1. INTRODUCTION 1
2. BACKGROUND OF AN URBAN RENAISSANCE 13
The Junior Leaguer from Kansas 13
A History of the 1400 Block of Larimer Street 17
Struggles with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority 21
3. EARLY DAYS 30
Obtaining the Properties 42
Good Press 49
4. HEADACHES 57
Financial Difficulties 57
Liquor Licenses 85
5. HISTORIC PRESERVATION REGULATIONS AND
Landmark District Designation 89
Denver's Transferable Development Rights Ordinance 95
TDR's for Larimer Square? 102
Federal Incentives 118
6. FINAL DAYS 122
The New Larimer Square 122
Selling Larimer Square 128
Postlude About TDR's 142
7. DANA CRAWFORD BEYOND LARIMER SQUARE 144
With one-half of the population of the Denver metropolitan area residing here
less than ten years, and 700,000 to one million more persons expected within the
next twenty-five years, the historic preservation successes which add to the quality
of life are taken for granted by most residents. The exciting atmosphere of Lo Do,
the increasing nighttime population along 16th and 17th Streets, and
redevelopment in the Golden Trianglethese projects come on the heels of many
preservation storiesboth successes and failuresover the past thirty-five years.
Denver's Larimer Square has much in common with historic districts in other
cities. Salt Lake City's Trolley Square, a one block area of historic trolley bams
renovated into a festival marketplace, recently celebrated its twenty-fifth
anniversary. San Francisco's famous Ghiardelli Square is only slightly older that its
Denver cousin. Even Quincy Market in Boston has many similaritieshistoric
buildings renovated into interesting shopping and restaurants. However, each
city's story is unique, and Denver's begins with Larimer Square.
Serious preservation began in Denver in 1964 with an idea of a remarkable
personwhom newspapers of the time termed an attractive and energetic
housewife. She proposed to renovate [not restore] Denver's most historic block
the 1400 block of Larimer Street, the street on which in 1858 Denver begana
street which had been known as Skid Row [with a capital "S" and "R"] for most of
the twentieth century. This project became Denver's famous "Larimer Square,"
and the remarkable person is Dana Crawford.
Only minor preservation type projects had preceded Larimer Square in Denver.
Denver historian Thomas J. Noel credits Margaret Tobin "Molly" Brown with the
first efforta 1927 campaign to save the cottage of "Wynken, Blynken and Nod"
poet Eugene Field at 307 West Colfax Avenue to make room for a gas station.1
The cottage was moved to Washington Park where it served as a branch in the
Denver Public Library system, and most recently as the office of a non-profit
group, The Park People, which is dedicated to preserving and enhancing Denver's
extensive park system.
Anne Evans, daughter of Colorado Governor John Evans, spear-headed a major
project in the renovation of Central City's Opera House in the early 1930s. In
downtown Denver, architect Langdon Morris, who became the first architect [of
five] for the Larimer Square redevelopment, planned the renovation of the May
Company building on 16th Street between Lawrence and Arapahoe Streets in the
late 1950s for use as a manufacturers' rep center-mostly for clothing
manufacturersa plan which basically removed several decades of inappropriate
Thomas J. Noel. Denver Landmarks and Historic Districts: A Pictorial Guide.
Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1996, p. 120.
clutter and cleaned the exterior of the building.2 [Alas, this renovation did not
save the four and five-story building from the wrecking balls of the Denver Urban
Renewal Authority in 1971.] Edward D. White, Jr., and Victor Hornbein were the
architects for the preservation of the stairs at the United States Post Office and
Courthouse on Stout Street between 18th and 19th Streets in 1963.3
These minor projects pale beside Larimer Square because the scale of the
projecteven though it was only both sides of the street of one blockwas large
for its era, and it was the first major preservation battle won against tremendous
odds and broad-based skepticism of many community leaders. The press early on
became enamored of this quixotic quest. Dana Crawford believes that "Larimer
Square was built with the help of the press,"4 which favorably followed its
progress. However, it succeeded primarily as a result of her persistence with the
backing of a group of investors, most of whom did not know each other at the
beginning, who ventured together into the new territory of historic preservation.
Although Dana Crawford and Larimer Square have received numerous awards,
the details of this effort have not been told in a comprehensive manner. Some feel
that it still may be too early to do so because most of the players are still alive, and,
2Langdon Morris Interview. December 23,1997.
3EdwardD. White, Jr., Interview. January 13, 1998.
4Dana Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
as with many difficult long term business transactions, there are some hard feelings
yet. The time is ripe for the telling of this fascinating story for two reasons. First,
the population explosion mentioned previously compels the historic preservationist
to relate what went into making modem Denver one of America's more successful
examples of core city preservation and revitalization. Secondly, the preservation
movement has come such a long way in the thirty-five years since the concept of
Larimer Square was initiated. What happened in the 1400 block of Larimer Street
thirty-five, twenty-five, and even ten years ago is historyhas been the basis for
much of what has occurred since. Dana Crawford would not have ventured into
the Oxford Hotel and the Edbrooke Lofts renovations in the 1980's were it not for
the successful Larimer Square experience.5 At the very least, the success of
Larimer Square made Crawford's and others' ventures into Lo Do easier.
Denver preservation consultant Lisa Purdy6 feels that Lo Do was a "different
animal" than Larimer Squarea multi-block warehouse district as opposed to two
sides of a commercial street. She feels that he advent of Lo Do should be
compared with similar historic districts in other cities, and not as a logical
extension of Larimer Square.7 According to Purdy, the main argument against
6Purdy served on the staff of both Historic Denver, Inc., and The Denver
Partnership in the early 1980s, and has worked as a planning and real estate
development consultant in both the public and private sectors.
7Lisa Purdy Interview. December 19, 1997.
historic district designation during the 1980s8 was that restrictions would depress
market values. However, contemporary economic studies indicated increased
values as a result of preservation, such as Pioneer Square in Seattle and
Georgetown, District of Columbia.9 Crawford did not have the luxury of these
statistics when she began Larimer Square. Therefore, Larimer Square's history,
from its beginnings in 1964 to its sale by the original investment group in 1986, not
only symbolizes the preservation struggle in Denver but also reflects the early
development of a preservation ethic nationwide.
In fact, Denver Planning Director (and former Historic Denver, Inc., President)
Jennifer Moulton considers Larimer Square to be the beginning of a preservation
ethic in Denver.10 The efforts of Historic Denver, Inc., to save such structures as
the Molly Brown House and the Moffat Mansion were "sentimental historic
things." To Moulton, success in preservation is economically based"when you
haven't done it sentimentally." She also believes that Lo Do was built on the
success of Larimer Square. Lo Do and its historic district succeeded because it
was promoted as an economic generator. As a result, "people have become more
fond of those warehouses." It may be too simple to say that Lo Do is the result of
8The Lower Downtown Historic District was officially designated by the Denver
City Council on March 7, 1988. Ordinance Number 109, Series of 1988.
10Jennifer Moulton Interview. January 16, 1998.
a different era of preservation than was Larimer Square. Moulton states that
Larimer Square set the standard in Denver because preservation [education is not
[based upon] a moment in time. It's building on things."11
Former Denver planner and Boulder Planning Director Will Fleissig feels
similarly: "The fact that Dana got in there before urban renewal and let people
understand a unique character to Denver is worth something ." When Market and
Blake Streets were scheduled to become major state highways, which would have
severely compromised if not ruined the Lo Do ambiance, Larimer Square "proved
a marketif the rest of Lo Do were cleaned up, people would come."12
Some involved in Denver's historic preservation community will disparage Dana
Crawford as a real estate developer who is not a preservationist. They claim that
her motive is profit, not history. Although Crawford went into Larimer Square
with a public relations background and some experience with managing the
Denver's Belcaro Shopping Center,13 Larimer Square was a learning experience.
Crawford obviously had the business acumen to evaluate what might work and
what would fail. However, most of her acumen developed as result of "on the job
12Will Fleissig Interview. January 4, 1998.
13During Larimer Square's early days, Dana volunteered at the Belcaro Shopping
Center to gain experience in managing multiple tenants.
training." She became known as "The Dragon Lady of Larimer Square" because
of her astute business practices and drive to upgrade Larimer Square's tenants,
going through five architects and at least four lawyers in the process.
Interestingly, her initial inclination was to structure the project as a non-profit, a
form with which she was familiar as a result of her work with the Junior League
and the Denver Art Museum. Whether preservation of the buildings or the desire
to create a lively gathering place for Denver was the primary motive may be
difficult to sort out. Crawford's background in public relations would have led her
to understand how both were important to the success of Larimer Square. Former
Denver Landmarks Preservation Commission and Denver Planning Board Chair
Ruth Falkenberg says, "As a developer, she is very good and has targeted a niche
of historic buildings which has benefited all of usnot an easy thing to do."14
National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe describes
Crawford's views on preservation:
She was more of a preservation-minded developer
than a development-minded preservationist. She
did not believe in preservation for preservation's
sake, but as a means to other endsin her case,
her business, which was real estate. When
speaking before audiences of preservationists,
Crawford tells them that preservation is about
real estate, and if they don't understand real
estate, they don't belong in preservation.15
14Falkenberg Interview. February 17, 1998.
15Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie. Changing Places: Rebuilding Community in
the Age of Sprawl. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997, p. 186.
Crawford's incredible tenacity has contributed to her success. Close friend and
former Colorado Historical Society President Barbara Sudler Hornby considers her
"a financial genius."16 To make Larimer Square successful, she knew what she
needed in buildings and investors, and "found them."17 She "knows all the people
to know" and is "a consummate public relations woman . one of the most
effective women I have ever known"18 Ruth Falkenberg cites Crawford's
"extraordinary determination," a person who "doesn't take no for an answer from
anyone."19 Former Mayor Thomas G. Currigan remembers how many found
Larimer Square's success "hard to believe . [but] with Dana at the helm . yes .
. it would succeed ... If she set out to do something, she did it, and would gather
around her those who would put their shoulders to the wheel."20 On the other
hand, her tenacity has been viewed as hard ball tactics by those who disagree with
her. One of her anonymous detractors claims that when he "found himself at odds
16Barbara Sudler Hornby Interview. February 20, 1998.
19Ruth Falkenberg Interview. February 17, 1998.
20Thomas G. Currigan Interview. April 3, 1998.
with Dana after refusing to support one of her projects . 'that was the last civil
conversation we had."'21
Dana Crawford has also been criticized for seemingly taking advantage of
preservation incentive ordinances only when they provided a distinct financial
advantage. Indeed, it is difficult to determine whether the Larimer Square historic
district application of 1971 was for altruistic reasons, for marketing reasons, or
because Crawford's position in the growing preservation community rendered it
embarrassing not to apply. Crawford has said that she "changed her attitude"
about landmarking at that time, indicating some earlier reticence.22 Her efforts in
the late 1980s to thwart the Lo Do historic district designation are also indicative
of this reluctance, although she has since changed her mind because of LoDo's
financial success 23 Some feel that she donated a tailored facade easement on
Denver's historic Ice House in Lo Do to the Colorado Historical Society,24 on the
Board of Directors of which she sata chummy arrangement, so that there was no
need to consider it for inclusion in the planned historic district. "Dana hated
2lThe Denver Post. Empire Magazine. "Is She the Most Powerful Woman in
Denver?" January 2, 1983, p. 11.
22Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
23Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie, Changing Places, p. 190.
24Deed of Conservation Easement dated December 15, 1986, which permitted a
roof top addition to the Ice House and the ability to construct a connecting high-
rise tower on the adjacent parking lot which had industrial zoning.
design review because she figured she was better at it. "25 This trait has caused her
to dismiss more than one architect. As successful as she became, perhaps she
could have been "whoppingly successful"26 if she would trust more in the opinions
Crawford's request early in the Larimer Square renovation processon October
11, 1965for historic designation by the Colorado Historical Society's non-
existent "Landmark Committee"27 [which was prior to both the establishment of
Denver's Landmark Preservation Commission in 1967 and the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966 which established the National Register of Historic
Places] provided merely honorary designation, without any restrictions. At that
time, Crawford requested "permanent markers ... to point out the sites and the
buildings which are particularly significant historically." While making some
specific suggestions for markers, Crawford stated: "There is no question that
many visitors will visit Larimer Square . Several airlines have already
approached us about tour packages, etc."28 The connection between historic
preservation and tourist dollars was certainly clear to her at that time.
27According to former Colorado Historical Society President Barbara Sudler
Hornby, no such committee existed. Hornby, who became a personal friend of
Crawford, states that this was "just her style . priming the pump ... to get a
committee going." Barbara Sudler Hornby Interview. April 21, 1998.
28Memorandum dated October 11, 1965 to Landmark Committee, The State
The request for redesignation of the Larimer Square historic district in 1974 to
mandate architectural design standards which included a height limitation may have
been as much to protect the retail ambiance against unsympathetic development as
to protect the block's historical integrity. Later, in the early 1980s, when
transferable development rights [TDR's] hit the Denver scene, Crawford
considered "undesignating" the local historic district29to be replaced with
individual landmark designations, which were required to take advantage of
TDR's. Many argued that Larimer Square should not be entitled to the benefits of
TDR's because it was already protected.
All of these episodes will be further explored later in this paper. However, good
arguments can be made that not all of Dana Crawford's preservation endeavors
were for pure preservation reasons. Does this render Crawford not a
preservationist? Does an attempt to substitute one preservation incentive for
another mean that a person is not a preservationist? Does opposition to a historic
district by one with a track record for successful renovation mean that a person is
not a preservationist? The answers are, of course, quite subjective, but the
Historical Society of Colorado from Dana Crawford, President, Larimer Square,
Inc. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square History
and Preservation File Box.
29Dana Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
exercise illustrates that all facts and circumstances should be considered before
conclusions are drawn.
According to Moulton, who classifies Crawford first and foremost as a real
estate developer and secondarily a preservationist, Crawford always breaks the
first rule of real estate development: she falls in love with the property. "Her
measure of success is different. Therefore, she has done things that were good but
not necessarily good for her financially."30 And she expects banks, the city, and
others to take any losses withor forher. This paper will explore a remarkable
woman and her wonderful work, but also give her critics a voice.
BACKGROUND OF AN URBAN RENAISSANCE
The Junior Leaguer from Kansas
Dana Hudkins was born on July 22,1931, and raised in Salina, Kansas. Her
mother's family, the Danas, had homesteaded on the Ohio River near Marietta,
Ohio after the Revolutionary War, "a very New England" sort of town,31 where
Crawford developed her love of antiques when visiting relatives.32 Her father was
bom in Oklahoma. He operated an automobile business in Salina, and later a
marina on nearby Kanopolis Lake, where the whole family worked. Daughter
Dana did everything from bookkeeping to selling fish bait.33 Her mother was also
involved with volunteer work. Crawford initially attended college at Monticello
College in Alton, Illinois, a two-year college which her mother referred to as "a
proper girl's school. . which would be a fine thing,"34 before transferring to the
University of Kansas in Lawrence, where she majored in English literature. As
31Dana Crawford Interview. February 26, 1998.
32Dana Crawford Interview. September 1,1997.
34Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998. According to Dana, Monticello
College was founded in 1835 by a riverboat captain with twelve daughters^
Crawford has told one reporter: "I studied fun ... It was just a lot of fun. It
wasn't exactly challenging.''35 In 1954, she headed for Cambridge for a one-year
business program sponsored by Harvard and Radcliffe, a rare program which
The program included two sessions of field study. Her
first was as a clerk in B. Altman's department store in
New York City. Her second field of study was handling
special projects for Boston's Museum of Science. She
organized a fishing clinic, organized a cocktail party for
Sir Edmund Hilary . and, "in a light-bulby sort of way,"
found her calling, the nascent field of public relations.36
Deciding on Denver as her next foray after graduation because it was up and
coming and fairly close to home in Salina, she landed a job with one of Denver's
oldest pubic relations firm, William Kostka and Associates. She left a year later to
marry geologist John W. R. Crawford, III, who first came to Colorado in 1941 to
attend the Colorado School of Mines and returned to Denver after serving in the
United States Army in World War H John entered business in Denver as a
The Crawfords had four sons 37 During their childhood, Crawford became
involved in charitable work, chairing such events as the Junior League's flea
35Sandra Widener. The Denver Post, January 2, 1983, p. 10.
37John W. R. IV "Jack," bom in 1956, works with Crawford in her redevelopment
market, which raised $28,000 in 1963,38 and directing the Denver Art Museum's
volunteers, "practically fulltime."39 The Crawfords became known for their
parties-were "hell-raisers"40until John's death at age 63 in 1985. Crawford has
continued to work as a developer of historic properties in Denver's Lo Do and
Platte Valley. Her projects, past and current, include the Oxford Hotel (1600 17th
Street); Edbrooke Lofts (1450 Wynkoop Street); Acme Lofts (1333 Wazee
Street); The Ice House (1801 Wynkoop Street); Cooper Flats (325 East 18th
Avenue); Market Center (Market and 17th Streets); and The Pride of the Rockies
Flour Mill (2100 20th Street).
Crawford has achieved a national reputation and prestigious positions on the
Board of Directors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1972-1981);
Board of Directors of the Project for Public Spaces (1989-present); Board of
Directors of Preservation Action (1985-1987); Advisory Board of Riverside, Inc.;
full member of the Urban Land Institute (1981-present); Board of Directors of the
Colorado Historical Society (1983-present), serving as vice-president for 10 years;
enterprises; Thomas Nast, bom in 1957, practices psychology in New York City;
Peter Roy, bom in 1958, is a massage therapist in Denver; and Richard Henry
Dana "Duke," bom in 1960, works in the film industry in Los Angeles.
38For which she was added to The Denver Post's Gallery of Fame. The Denver
Post. September 14, 1963, p. 22.
39Dana Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
40Christopher Shears Interview. September 9, 1997.
Board of Directors of the Denver Art Museum (1976-1982); founding member and
Board of Directors of Historic Denver, Inc. (1970-1980); Advisory Board to the
Denver Center for the Performing Arts (1984-1990); Board of Directors of the
Platte Valley Greenway Foundation (1973-1980); founding member of Lower
Downtown District, Inc. (1984-1992); member of Mayor's Housing Task Force
(1991); chair of Downtown is the City Program (1990-1991); and Board of
Directors of the Denver Performing Arts Complex Board (1994-1997). In 1997,
the University of Colorado at Denver awarded her an honorary Ph.D. in Humane
In October, 1995, Crawford received the most distinguished preservation award
in the countrythe Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award-given annually by the
National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust praised Crawford
for, "The pioneering project [Larimer Square]. . one of America's first festival
marketplaces . helped inspire similar preservation-redevelopment efforts
nationwide. As one of the first to pursue commercial restoration of significant
buildings, Crawford awakened preservationists and the business community
especially the bankersto the notion that preservation was a legitimate and
profitable venture."41 And all of this began with a curious interest in 1963 in the
1400 block of Larimer Street.
4 National Trust for Historic Preservation. News Release. October 4, 1995.
A History of the 1400 Block of Larimer Street
Although a detailed history of the 1400 block is not the topic of this paper, some
of its highlights are important to set the stage for its late twentieth century
renaissance.42 None of the original buildings on the site remain, but the second
and sometimes the third constructions on the sites are extant--all built well before
the turn of the twentieth centurythe only commercial block in Denver where this
The "town" side as Crawford calls it, or even numbered blockface, witnessed the
first house in Denver. General William Larimer claimed that his fifteen foot six
inch by sixteen foot six inch cabin at the southeast comer of Larimer and 15 th
Streets was, in 1858, "the first house in Denver".43 A year later it became the site
of George W. Clayton's general merchandise and mining supply store. The current
building, known as the Granite Hotel, 1456-1460 Larimer Street, was built by the
Clayton brothers George (future Denver councilman) and William (fixture Denver
mayor) in 1882 for McNamara Dry Goods, the predecessor of the Denver Dry
Goods Company (now Foley's). The vacant lots at 1444-1448 Larimer Street,
42Primary references for this section are Sandra Dallas, Gold and Gothic: The
Story of Larimer Square, 1967, and Thomas J. Noel, Denver's Larimer Street:
Main Street, Skid Row and Urban Renaissance, Denver: Historic Denver, Inc.,
43Noel, Denver's Larimer Street, p. 93.
which comprise Noel Park (named after both Colorado historian Thomas J. Noel
and investor Thomas Congdon's wife, Noel), was the site in 1859 of Denver's first
drugstore-later to move across the street-combined with a newsstand. A
handsome brick building was built on the site in the early 1870s which served as a
hotel, and later, a motorcycle and bicycle dealership which sold to the Denver
Police Department, then a furniture store.44 The third vacant lot, 1452 Larimer
Street, occupied by a new building, was home to an 1870s three-story building.
The Buerger Brothers Building, 1436-1440 Larimer Street, built in 1890 by
German immigrant brothers who dealt in barber supplies, was the site in 1859 of a
photographic studio which produced "ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and portraits
and landscapes on leather."45 The 1880 Sussex Building, 1428-1434 Larimer
Street, with its Richardsonian Romanesque arches, stands on the site of P. W.
Roath's Pioneer Jewelry and Music Store which operated from 1860 to 1880. The
Kettle Building, 1426 Larimer Street, built in 1873 on the site of Count Henri
Murat's barber shop, boasts an elaborate facade for its short 20 foot frontage.
George Kettle apparently put his money into the facade because the building had
no side walls of its own, relying on its neighbors.' The light grey brick 1870s
Wootten Building, 1416-1422 Larimer Street, named after Larimer Square
investor, banker Rike Wootten, "was preceded by a cluster of little one-story frame
44Pearl Wolfson Interview. January 8, 1898.
45Noel, Denvers Larimer Street, p. 92. Buerger Brothers subsequently moved
into the art deco building at 1732 Champa Street, which was restored and
remodeled into lofts in 1998.
and brick blocks occupied by a maze of little shops."46 The 1889 structure at
1412 Larimer Street was a cigar factory and ink manufacturing plant built on the
site of the first county jail. 1408 Larimer Street, vacant in the 1960s but recently
rebuilt with a building called "Neverland," was the site of Denver's first funeral
parlor. The current restaurant building47 at 1404 Larimer Street, built in 1888,
was the site of Denver's first post office. The formerly vacant lot at 1400 Larimer
Street, now a one-story restaurant, was the site of Denver's first jewelry store.
The "mountain" side, or odd numbered blockface, boasts the three story 1870s
Miller Building, renamed for oilman William Miller, an investor in the Larimer
Square project. "This three-story red brick and rosy sandstone structure housed
Gahan's Saloon and the Lanktree Hotel from the turn of the century until the
1950s."48 Next door, at 1411 Larimer Street, is a "non-descript little building,
originally fancier,"49 built prior to 1887. The grand Lincoln Hall at 1415 Larimer
Street, an 1860s building with 1880s mansard additions, was a saddle shop from
the 1890s until purchase by the Larimer Square investors. Previously," [t]his place
became notorious for drunkenness, disorder and debauching of young women and
46Dallas, Gold and Gothic, p. 19.
47Currently the Cadillac Ranch; formerly Lafitte's.
48Noel, Denver's Larimer Street, p. 95.
49Dallas, Gold and Gothic, p. 16.
girls who came to the dances."50 Apollo Hall at 1421-1425 Larimer Street is
historically the most important building on the block. In 1859, it was the site of an
eating house and later housed Denver's first theater and first municipal
government, witnessing vigilante meetings and rowdy performances. That building
was replaced in the 1870s with the current building, renamed the Congdon
Building after investor, civic minded oilman Thomas Congdon. The 1880s Looms
Building at 1429 Larimer Street is the site of the first bank in Denver, the Brown
Brothers Bank"a flimsy shack."51 The 1890's Frontenac Building at 1433
Larimer Street housed a corset dealer and a hotel, but its early history is unknown.
Dana Crawford named the elaborate 1875 Italianate building-"the prettiest"52
after herself and her husband John. The 1875 edifice replaced a brick building built
in 1860 which had the "the most remarkable sign we have seen in the country,"53
"a panorama combining a snowy mountainscape with a foamy seascape."54 The
Replin Building at 1443 Larimer Street, named here after the current owner, was
not part of the Larimer Square renovation. An original 1860s billiard hall was
replaced with the current building in 1889. The handsome Gallup-Stanbury
Building at 1445-1451 was originally the site of a saloon until 1873 when business
50Noel, Denver's Larimer Street, p. 98.
5 Dallas, Gold and Gothic, p. 16.
52Crawford Interview. January 2,1998.
53Dallas, Gold and Gothic, p. 16.
54Noel, Denvers Larimer Street, p. 102.
partners Avery Gallup and Andrew Stanbury built the current building and opened
the "Bazaar," selling "exotic specialty goods and foodstuffs." 55The
"reproduction" at the northwest corner of the block, 1455-1463 Larimer Street, is
the site of one of the first brick buildings in Denver which replaced an 1859 log
cabin. From 1859, when it was operated as the Graham Drugstore, it served as a
drugstore well into the twentieth century.
All of the buildings have more extensive and interesting histories than are related
here. The block was saved through benign neglect when the center of commerce
moved down 16th and 17th Streets. By the mid-twentieth century, many ethnic
groupsIrish, Jewish, Germanowned shops in the 1400 block of Larimer
S_tmggks_with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority
The Larimer Square story includes and conflicts with Denver's urban renewal
plans. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority [DURA] was formed in 195857 with
55Ibid., p. 104.
57An entity called the Denver Urban Renewal Commission, formed in 1955,
preceded the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Donna McEnroe. Denver
Renewed: A History of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Denver: The
Denver Foundation, 1992, p. 39. According to J. Robert Cameron, the first
the standard national mission "to arrest the decay in the hearts of our nation's cities
and to restore their vitality for the benefit of the cities and their people. "58 The
origins of urban renewal were in 1941, with the publication by the Federal Housing
Administration of A Handbook on Urban Redevelopment for in the United States,
which "dealt with the problems of urban slums and blight and with the need for
municipal rehabilitation and development. It recommended a planning agency for
each city and also a corporate arm of local government. . with broad powers to
acquire, hold and dispose of real property for redevelopment, including the power
to acquire sites through eminent domain"59 Congressional legislation in 1949 and
1954 implemented these goals. Local direction is a hallmark of the program.
Federal financing assistance is not available until "the local governing body
adopt[s] a workable program for community improvement. "60 The Department of
Housing and Urban Development set up regional offices and attempted to sell its
program city by city. Denver provided a receptive audience in Denver, whose
Executive Director of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, he served in a similar
capacity to Denver urban renewal entities since 1952 after appointment by Mayor
Quigg Newton. J. Robert Cameron Interview, April 6, 1998.
58Ibid.. p. 1.
59Ashley A. Foard and Hilbert Fefferman. "Federal Urban Renewal Legislation."
James Q. Wilson, Editor. Urban Renewal: The Record and Controversy.
Cambridge: TheM.LT. Press, 1966, p. 73.
60William L. Slayton. "The Operation and Achievements of the Urban Renewal
Program." James Q. Wilson, Editor. Urban Renewal: The Record and the
Controversy. Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press, 1966, p. 196.
blighted areas were the source of most crime and emergency calls.61 DURA's
first Executive Director, J. Robert Cameron, and others visited the regional office
in Fort Worth "seeking HUD."62 Denver had three or four major slum landlords,
and they wanted a way to deal with them.63 Impressed with the program,
Cameron feels "[i]t was a brand new ball game for American cities."64
The Skyline Urban Renewal Project, which included the 1400 block of Larimer
Street, was one of Denver's several projects, although the first to deal with
downtown.65 By resolution dated January 23, 1964,66 DURA requested federal
funds to undertake the surveying and plans for the twenty-two block Skyline area
for $403,000 [later increased to $497,000].67 The original plan for this area
61McEnroq, Denver Renewed, p. 36.
62J. Robert Cameron Interview. April 6, 1998.
63Cameron Interview. April 10, 1998.
65Prior projects dealt with residential neighborhoodsAvondale (West Colfax
Avenue and Federal Boulevard), Whittier (twenty-nine blocks centered at East
26th Avenue and Lafayette Street), Blake Street (between 33 rd and 40th Streets),
and Jerome Park (between West 6th Street and West Colfax Avenues in the Platte
Valley), the latter two being converted into commercial and industrial uses.
66Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Resolution 16, Series 1964. January 23,
67Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Resolution 36, Series 1964. April 2,1964.
bounded by Speer Boulevard, Larimer Street, 20th Street, and Curtis Street, with
some gerrymanderingwas to "mow it all down. "68 Crawford felt that she had to
continually convince DURA of Larimer Square's importance. Factors which kept
the wrecking balls at bay were official interest in the project by the Mayor's office,
some favorable press, and, perhaps most importantly, Larimer Square's incremental
Fortunately, the Larimer Square development began to materialize before the
plans for the Skyline redevelopment were finalized. The DURA Commissioners
and staff watched it closely to see if it would succeed. DURA authorities
questioned Larimer Square's future many times. For example, during a September
21, 1966, presentation by the consultants for Skyline's land use and marketability
study, a question asked by an unidentified Commissioner, "Will Larimer Square
continue as is and will it retain value?" The response by the consultant, Robert
DeVoy of the R. E. Research Group of Chicago, was, "Larimer Square should be
left alone as its future is favorable."69 Larimer Square defied the urban renewal
plan for the remainder of Larimer Street, which was considered by DURA to be
"the most deteriorated portion of downtown Denverprobably subject to
elimination in the Skyline development. "70
68Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
69Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Minutes. December 21, 1966.
70Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Urban Renewal goes forward in Denver.
1965, p. 11. Western History Department, Denver Public Library, Denver,
The City Council delayed Implementation of the Skyline plan by mandating that
the citizens vote on it. Crawford worked hard for passage of the Skyline plan.
The redevelopment plan which was approved by the Denver voters on May 16,
1967, included Larimer Square as "General Commercial" area, with "uses such as
retail shops, restaurants, cultural and entertainment facilities, and professional
offices."71 Larimer Square was designated as a "rehabilitation area" on the project
Even though HUD officially recognized the value of historic preservation with its
publication in 1963 of a guide, "Historic Preservation Through Urban Renewal,"72
attempts at preservation in Denver were not viewed as important tools. Despite
the words of DURA Executive Director Robert Cameron in a press release to
acknowledge Larimer Square's formal announcement on May 22, 1965"[ujrban
renewal should be concerned with the preservation of historical sites as well as the
elimination of slums and blight," and, "[t]he Urban Renewal Authority will be
happy to work with Larimer Square and similar private organizations in the
71Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Skyline Urban Renewal Project, Denver,
Colorado. August 10, 1967, as amended February, 1969, p. c-1. Dana Crawford
Collection. Larimer Square Files. Denver File Box. Box 1.
72William L. Slayton. "The Operation and Achievements of the Urban Renewal
Program." James Q. Wilson, Editor. Urban Renewal: The Record and the
Controversy. Cambridge: TheM.LT. Press, 1966, p. 218.
redevelopment of the lower downtown area,"73 partial demolition and additions
were carefully scrutinized. When Crawford requested relief from renovating the
second floors of Larimer Square's buildings because she did not know if they could
afford to do the renovation, DURA showed no sympathy, requiring that Larimer
Square abide by the rules which applied to all properties in the Skyline area.74
Another example is an "Owner Participation Agreement" dated August 10, 1971,
which addressed the demolition of the Graham Drugstore building on the northeast
comer of 15th and Larimer Streets. This mandatory agreement gave no more
special consideration to Larimer Square than to condemned properties located
elsewhere in Skyline 75 Whether Crawford was overly sensitive is difficult to
determine. Because Larimer Square was the only bright spot in the urban renewal
area for quite some time, she may have felt that a better working relationship could
benefit both entities.
DURA's attitude toward preservation efforts is more clearly illustrated with
other proposals. The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission [DPLC], which
was formed in 1967, corresponded and met with DURA in an attempt to save
eight additional historic buildings in the Skyline area which conflicted with the
73Denver Urban Renewal Authority Manuscript Collection. Box 5. File Folder
22. Western History Department, Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
74Cameron Interview. April 6, 1998.
75Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square History and
Preservation File Box.
urban renewal plan.76 The DPLC succeeded only with the Denver City Cable
Railway Company Building (1215 18th Street at Lawrence Street) and the D & F
Tower (16th and Arapahoe Streets). Architect Langdon Morris even suggested a
one year moratorium on demolition of historic buildings to determine if they could
be incorporated into a block-wide development scheme.77 Morris stated:
Saving some of these buildings would soften this urban
development and force designers and architects to do
good work . I'm most anxious to preserve authen-
tic ones of the period. They're not all very good, but
they have an exuberance and spirit that's important to
DURA did not heed this message. In fact, in an article written in the late 1960's
to rebut the criticism of historic preservationists, J. Robert Cameron stated:
It is true that DURA removed 250 half-empty dilapidated
rat and roach infested structures of which only five had some
^Preservation in Skyline Agenda, Meeting with Denver Urban Renewal Authority,
May 22, 1969. Denver Urban Renewal Authority Manuscript Collection. Box 6.
File Folder 20. Western History Department, Denver Public Library, Denver,
Colorado. The eight buildings were the Tabor Block (16th and Larimer Streets),
Curtis & Clarke Building (1634 Larimer Street). Groff-Collins Building (1644-
1650 Larimer Street), Cheesman Building (17th and Larimer Streets), Iron
Building (17th and Arapahoe Streets), Denver City Cable Railway Company
Building (incorrectly referred to in the memorandum as the Tramway Cable
Building), Old Federal Reserve Bank Building (17th and Arapahoe Streets), and
the D & F Tower.
77Joanne Ditmer. The Denver Post. July 2, 1967, p. 43D.
architectural significance. Two buildings were retained by
DURA for renovation. Of more significance is the fact
that the removal of some of the worst slum and blighted
conditions existing in Denver was done after extensive public
hearings and a city-wide vote by the people of Denver. Over
72% of the voters said, in effect, "Let's rid lower downtown
of the horrible conditions which exist, and let's rebuild the area!*'79
Cameron felt that the voters had given a mandate for the demolition which ensued,
and he was probably correct. A historic preservation ethic in Denver was only
germinating at that time. However, Cameron continues to believe that saving a
mere two historic buildings was a noteworthy and generous contribution to
The attitude of at least one DURA Commissioner toward historic preservation
was clearly set forth in a letter to the editor of The Denver Post on March 23,
1968. Retired Commissioner Martin Tessler, then of Lynbrook, New York,
commented that DURA would lose sight of its basic objective if it became involved
with historic preservation. "Skyline does not. . involve the preservation of trivial
relics ... but seeks to effect more profound changes in land use. Many of these
buildings are not capable of lending themselves to such functional changes in use
even with major expenditures for renovation." Noting that at least two of the
79J. Robert Cameron. "Urban Renewal and Historic Preservation in Denver."
80Cameron Interview. April 6, 1998,
preservation commission members were on the boards of foundations, Tessler
asked: "Why are they asking the Denver public to foot the bill when they
themselves are unwilling to open the clenched fists of Denver's so-called
philanthropic foundations?" In his conclusion, in which he also did not mince
words, Tessler stated, "As a constructive idea I would suggest that the Landmark
Commission raise money to buy the various cornices, friezes, pediments and other
architectural features that are worth saving from these old buildings and keep them
in one of the galleries of the New Art Museum. A sign could then be posted to
read "No Artificial Preservatives Used.'" To give some credit to Tessler, he did
differentiate Larimer Square because of its "continuity," whereas the other
landmarks had a "helter skelter pattern" in the redevelopment area. However, this
attitude toward preservation is apparent when reading between the lines of
DURA's minutes and other documents.
Dana Crawford's love of antiques includes buildings.81 She fell for the 1400
block of Larimer Street because of the combination of architecture and history. "I
chose it because it had wonderful architecture and only one bar, and it's where
Denver started."82 Other locations were considered, including 18th Street off of
Broadway to Lincoln Street"a sweet little area which reminded me of Boston"
whose Crest Hotel Crawford visited on the ruse of scouting out a residence for her
aunt, and 15th Street between Center and Boulder Streets 83 With urban renewal
planned, Crawford felt that the 1400 block of Larimer Street was also
advantageously located to become the upscale shopping center which she
envisioned. The reason for her interest generally was what she terms "a social
reason,"84 stemming from her "love of cities and appreciation of the relationship
81Crawford Interview. September 1, 1997.
83Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
84Crawford Interview. January 2,1998.
between public behavior and the built environment."85 In the 1950s, when she
came to Denver, "there was no place to go for a happening of people of all
kinds."86 She partially drew her inspiration from her college days in Boston "for
its pedestrian scale, appreciation for history and buildings which created a
charming place."87 She also drew inspiration from the Country Club Plaza of
Kansas City, which she came to know during her college years in nearby
Lawrence, Kansas, and was impressed with its common management system in the
"beautifully done first shopping center in America."88 Crawford also learned from
Aspen which she visited regularly after moving to Colorado in 1954, "where rules
were necessary to save the character of the mining town."89 Dana explained her
concept in a May 27, 1964, memorandum to Richard D. "Dick" Gibson of
Boettcher and Company, who eventually worked as promoter for the project:
In an authentic setting on the most famous street
in Denver, Larimer Square will bring new flavor to
this well known city at the foot of the Rockies.
Developed with an urban spirit, it will be a center
for the entertainment and cultural inspiration of the
community and all who come here. It will make
87Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
Denver a better place to live and a better place to
visit. It will give this city a new reputation for fun,
helping in the attraction of convention and tourist
traffic. It will recapture the gaiety and excitement
of the early days with all Larimer Square buildings
dating in the 1860's and 1870's. Each site recalls
a chapter of Colorado history.
Larimer Square will transform a shabby district
into a handsome and useful one. As the show
case of the Rockies, it will contain the nucleus of
Denver's night liferestaurants, coffee houses,
bars, night clubs, "off broadway [sic] theatre, and
jazz. It will house a cluster of interesting specialty
shops. It will collect art galleries, and antique shops
for the selective shopper's convenience; it will
include space for artists' studios and perhaps a small
school of art or the theatre. It will offer downtown
residential space, rooms and apartments at
fashionable rents for students working in the area and
for those of cultural bent. Several elegant offices will
also be available . The demand for such a
development was expressed in the 1963 Denver
Goals for Greatness when the community's leading
businessmen united in a call for entertainment and
recreational facilities of sufficient quality to give
Denver the reputation for being a light hearted city.90
All elements of this grand scheme did not come about on Larimer Square itself, but
eventually did occur elsewhere in the revitalized downtown. If Larimer Square did
not set the stage for more recent efforts, it certainly set the vision.
90Memorandum to Dick Gibson from Dana Crawford regarding Larimer Square
Development Plan. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer
Square History and Preservation File Box.
Crawford became intrigued with the soon to be defunct Gaslight Square of St.
Louis after reading about it in a Time magazine article.91 She visited Gaslight
Square, a complex of historic buildings situated on a park renovated for retail and
restaurants, several times. E. Weston Colbrunn, Jr., owner of The Three
Fountains, a Gaslight Square restaurant who was considering moving it to
Crawford's plan for "Frontier City" [as he called it,] advised her by letter dated
March 16, 1964, to consider:
The imagination and enterprise of the individual
The full co-operation and protection of the police
Rather than go into square foot figures, I would suggest
that rentals be on a guaranteed minimum with a
percentage based on gross sales.92
Heeding Colbrunn's advice, Crawford attributed Gaslight Square's failure to
multiple ownerships and resolved to obtain control over as much of the Larimer
Square block as possible. She also followed Colbrunn's advice about rents.
9Crawford Interview. February 26, 1998.
92Letter dated March 16, 1964 from E, Weston Colbrunn, Jr., to Mrs. D. W. K.
[sic] Crawford, HI. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer
Square History and Preservation File Box.
Larimer Square rents became based on a percentage of gross sales. Both of these
techniques were key to Larimer Square's ultimate success.
Crawford's approach to obtaining investors and the architectural skill necessary
to make the project work was simple and logical. First, she needed an architect.
Therefore, she talked with architect Langdon Morris at a social event sponsored by
the Denver Art Museum, an organization supported by both the Crawfords and the
Morrises. Crawford knew that Morris had been involved in the Daniels and Fisher
department store clean-upthe only semi-preservation project accomplished in
Denver, but did not know him personally. After she explained her concept for a
Denver version of Gaslight Square, Morris came aboard both as architect and
Secondly, she needed an attorney. She had previously met the young Hardin
Holmes at a dinner party in Boulder where they discussed his becoming a Denver
Art Museum volunteer. She called him one morning in 1964 and asked if he would
be the attorney for a project she was putting together. Holmes had worked on
buying the individual properties for the Brooks Towers development, so he had
experience in the type of acquisitions necessary for the Larimer Square project.94
Holmes became quite a bit more involved than a typical legal advisor. Dana and
93Morris Interview. December 23, 1997.
94Hardin Holmes Interview. January 8, 1998.
John Crawford became close friends. Also, he was excited about the project.
Dana Crawford was "somewhat of a favorite client," and he did not charge her for
every hour or service.95 One of his most interesting recollections is that Larimer
Street space was renting for ten cents per square foot in the mid-1960's.96
Thirdly, she needed control over several buildings. Rike Wootten, who owned
four buildings on the town side of the street--the Sussex Building, the Kettle
Building, 1412 Larimer Street, and what would be renamed the Wootten Building
at 1416-22 Larimer Streetfirst met Crawford when she walked into his office in
the May Company annex of the Colorado National Bank where he was an assistant
vice president. Wootten had purchased these buildings in 1961 for investment
purposes and was close to a decision to demolish them.97 Only the Sussex
Building was occupiedas "a first rate flop house . clean as a pin."98 All of the
residents were menpensioners"living on next to nothing."99 Crawford
described her plans to create an upscale shopping area in the 1400 block of
Larimer Street, comparing the project to Gaslight Square, Ghiardelli Square in San
Francisco, and Old Town in Chicago. Although Wootten had not met Crawford
95Ibid. Holmes went on to say, "Although she wouldn't believe it."
96Hardin Holmes Interview. January 16, 1998.
97Rike Wootten Interview. December 16, 1997.
before, he was familiar with her reputation as a result of the mutual involvement of
Crawford and his wife, the former Barbara Stearns,100 in Junior League activities.
Crawford invited Wootten to her house at 629 Humboldt Street, showed him
photographs of these places, and convinced him.101 Later, one-half of the $50,000
value of his buildings was exchanged for 6250 shares of Larimer Square, Inc.,
It is unclear whether Crawford originally felt that the project could succeed with
only the Wootten buildings and the adjacent Buerger Block, which was acquired
with a large term lease. Architect Morris claims that it was he who convinced her
that the entire block was necessary to control because of the threat of
unsympathetic development.103 Attorney Holmes feels that the desire to own or
control more property naturally evolved.104 Crawford does not recall that her
efforts were so narrowly focused,105 but remembers the Gaslight Square example.
iWhose father, Robert Stearns, was President of the University of Colorado and
Dean of the law school.
102Rike Wootten convinced his brother, John Robert Wootten, a small town
banker in Oklahoma, to become an investor as well.
103Morris Interview. December 23,1997.
104Holmes Interview. January 8,1998.
105Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
In any event, there was never a lull in the effort to obtain control over the
Like Wootten, some other property owners traded a portion of the equity in their
buildings for shares of stock in Larimer Square, Inc. D. A. Carruthers and Jack
Verne Temple, who received $55,000 in Larimer Square, Inc., stock as part of a
$60,000 transaction for the Granite Hotel in May, 1965, and David Dunklee
received a partial stock exchange for 1445-1451.106
Brothers Albert and Robert Hayutin owned the two vacant lots next to the
Granite Hotel as well as the Buerger Brothers Building (also on two lots), which
was under a demolition order. An additional vacant lot between the Hayutin
properties was owned by The Central Bank and Trust Company. Although they
were not interested in selling, on June 2, 1965, the Hayutins agreed to a twenty-
year lease with three renewal options for ten years each. The lease also gave the
Larimer Square investors the right to do what they desired with the building and
property. The initial rent for all four lots was $750 per month, with Larimer
Square, Inc., paying taxes and insurance, to be increased pursuant to the consumer
106prOgress Report dated May 17, 1965. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer
Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
107Lease dated June 2, 1965, between Robert Hayutin and Larimer Square, Inc.
Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Today, the Hayutin heirs are the beneficiaries of these arrangements with the lease
One of the more interesting episodes involved obtaining control of 1421-1425
Larimer Street, a building which was eventually named after investor Thomas
Congdon. In 1964, the property was owned by Mrs. Marie Lally of Tampa,
Florida, a retiree who did not wish to sell because of the monthly income it
provided. The building was under a long term lease to Ray and Elva Bach, with
expiration date if renewed of November 30, 1981.108 When Mrs. Lally considered
selling in 1966, the sale was jeopardized because the existing tenants wished to
remain, including Charles and Dorothy Cousins, who were sublessees.
Furthermore, Larimer Square Associates was involved in a lawsuit with the tenants
over the issuance of a liquor license, which Larimer Square Associates opposed.
The Rocky Mountain News, in an article entitled "Larimer Official is Against 'Beer
Joint,'"109 reported that five hundred signatures110 in opposition had been
having been recently amended for a new sixty year period with the current Larimer
Square owner, the Hermanson Family Limited Partnership, to reflect current
market conditions. Gary Pashel (son-in-law of Robert Hayutin) Interview.
January 5, 1998.
108Memorandum by Hardin Holmes regarding ownership of 1421-1425 Larimer
Street. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. 1421-1425 Larimer File
109Rocky Mountain News. November 24, 1966, p. 36.
11085% percent from neighborhood businesses and 15 % from Larimer Square
obtained, an effort spearheaded by Crawford, who felt that a beer joint was
inconsistent with the concept of Larimer Square. Crawford was quoted as stating:
We are trying to preserve the cultural heritage of early
Denver and we welcome property owners and tenants
in this immediate neighborhood to join in this effort. .
However, we must consider the undesirable effect the
proposed type of 3.2 beer and entertainment facility
would have on the entire lower downtown area.111
Negotiations with the Bachs and Cousins resulted in an agreement effectuated in
October, 1967, which created the "1421-25 Larimer Street Joint Venture."112
Pursuant to the terms of this agreement, Larimer Square Associates agreed to loan
$75,000 to the joint venture, which was to be paid to the Bachs and the Cousins.
The joint venture was to be under Larimer Square Associates' "sole direction and
control... to remodel the premises to create an arcade from Larimer Street to the
alley, restore the facade, create shell space on the first floor and basement levels
suitable for occupancy and leasing by retail shops, a restaurant-bar-cabaret [which
was operated by Cousins], and a quick service food operation." Larimer Square
Associates could lend up to $50,000 to the joint venture. The monthly rental
11 ^Rocky Mountain News. November 24, 1966, p. 36.
112Agreement dated October 27, 1967, between Larimer Square Associates, a
limited partnership, and Pony, Inc., a Colorado corporation. Skyline Restaurant
Corporation, a Colorado corporation, Ray T. Bach and Elva O. Bach, husband and
wife, and Charles R. Cousins and Dorothy E. Cousins, husband and wife. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. 1421-1425 Larimer File Box.
payments of three hundred dollars to Marie Lally were paid by Larimer Square
Associates. As legal consideration, the Bachs and Cousins conveyed their
leasehold interests to the joint venture. A stipulation to dismiss the lawsuit and
maintain the liquor license was entered into and approved by the Colorado
Unfortunately, the agreement did not resolve differences between Cousins and
Larimer Square Associates. In 1971, Cousins, through his attorney, Ben Klein,114
accused Larimer Square Associates of not properly accounting to his client.115
These allegations may have been made in an attempt to rescind the joint venture
agreement. Not only was Larimer Square a going concern financially, but also
Klein and Cousins had, unbeknownst to Crawford and Larimer Square Associates,
recently purchased the building from the Lally estate for $60,000, overbidding
Larimer Square Associates by $15,000.116 After becoming aware of this, Larimer
Square Associates sued both Klein and Cousins in 1974, alleging a breach of the
113 Stipulation. Colorado Supreme Court Case Number 23127.
114Recently chair of the Regional Transportation District Board of Directors.
115Letter dated June 21, 1971, from Ben Klein to Dana Crawford. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. 1421-1425 Larimer File Box. It
should be noted that Klein represented Pony, Inc., the name of the business entity,
116Rejected Receipt and Option Contract for $45,000. Dana Crawford Collection.
Larimer Square Files. 1421-1425 Larimer File Box.
fiduciary relationship established as a result of the joint venture.117 Larimer
Square Associates ended up purchasing the property from Klein and Cousins for a
total of $324,000 in December, 1975,118 an agreement which included other
unfavorable terms,119 in order to finally obtain complete control of the property.
Finally, Crawford needed additional investors. A handful became involved
through Dick Gibson of Boettcher and Company, who knew the Crawfords
socially. According to investor Retired Colonel Ralph Saltsman, "Gibson was a
persuasive lad,"120 who had come "well recommended" by friends of the
Saltsmans in the East before they moved to Denver after military retirement so that
Ralph could begin working for Martin Marietta. Gibson also solicited and brought
in attorneys James and Patricia Schroeder [the latter became Denver's
Congressperson from 1973 to 1997.] The Shroeders were just out of Harvard
Law School, and according to attorney Holmes, had no business becoming
involved in a non-liquid investment.121 Investors Thomas and Noel Congdon,
117Larimer Square Associates, et. al. v. Charles Cousins, et. al.. Denver District
Court Civil Action Number 44307.
118Records of the Clerk and Recorder, City and County of Denver, Colorado.
Reception Numbers 1176 306 and 1176 307.
119Letter dated July 9, 1975, from Thomas E. Congdon to Charles R. Cousins.
Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. 1421-1425 File Box.
120Ralph Saltsman Interview. December 22, 1997.
121Holmes Interview. January 8, 1998.
who engaged in mineral land acquisition, were social acquaintances of the
In this initial phase, the list of stockholders for 25,000 shares shaped up like this
The first Larimer Square entity was incorporated on August 28, 1964, as "Dana
Crawford, Inc." The name was changed to Larimer Square, Inc., by motion of the
122Undated memorandum from summer, 1966, from Dana Crawford, President to
Stockholders of Larimer Square regarding short term financing. Dana Crawford
Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2. Dana has no
current recollection who Mr. X was.
Dana & John Crawford
John Robert Wootten
Jack and Mary Temple
James and Patricia Schroeder
Harry J. Kelly, Jr.
Catherine Sue Morrison
Obtaining the Properties
first Board of Directorsconsisting of Dana Crawford, John Crawford, and Rike
Woottenon November 27, 1964, to relate the name of the firm "more closely to
the plan which had been adopted for the redevelopment of a portion of Larimer
Street."123 By late January, 1965, the corporation had purchased the Wootten
properties on the town side and 1411 through 1419 on the mountain side.124
Participation was pledged by the owners of the Granite Hotel [Carruthers and
Temple] and 1445 through 1451 [Dunklee].125 Offers for long term leases had
been made on several other buildings: the Hayutin brothers for the Buerger
Brothers Building and the two vacant lots adjacent to the Granite Bank; Loretta
Tarkoff for 1443; Jacob C. Schachet for 1439; Jack Whelan and Harry Kelly for
1429 and 1433; and Marie Lally for 1421 to 1425. Sale was pending for the
comer building at 14th Street on the mountain side1401-1407for $33,000. The
plan for the remaining properties was to purchase the Central Bank owned vacant
lot between the Hayutin properties, and to negotiate a long term lease for the other
mountain side comer, the old Graham Drugstore building at 1455-1465, which
was tied up in estate proceedings.126 Depending on size, the value of the buildings
123Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Directors of Dana Crawford, Inc.
November 27,1964. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited
Partners File Box 2.
124Progress Report dated January 22, 1965. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer
Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
ranged from $16,000 to $50,000, or approximately $16,000 per lot. Value was
based on the land with minimal, if any, value attributed to the buildings.
The then current tenants in the purchased buildings were encouraged to stay on
short term lease agreements with sixty day cancellations. As early as January,
1965, two large restaurant and night club operations as well as a fine antique shop
were considering Larimer Square for future tenancy.127
Significant progress had been made by May, 1965, in obtaining control of
properties on both sides of the street. On the town side, the corporation owned
only the Wootten buildings. However, as mentioned previously, a fifty-year lease
was negotiated with the Hayutin brothers for the vacant lots and the Buerger
Brothers building. The Granite Hotel purchase and stock trade was scheduled for
June 1, 1965. The Central Bank had given assurances that they would sell the
remaining vacant lot, which would give Larimer Square, Inc., control over the
entire blockface with the exception of the Lafitte restaurant properties (three lots)
at the 14th Street comer.128
On the mountain side, the corporation held title to the five lots from 1401 to
1415. Marie Lally of Tampa, owner of 1421-1425, continued to express interest
128Progress Report dated May 17, 1965. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer
Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
in selling, but now wanted to trade for another building plus some cash. For sale
were 1429 and 1433, but the price was considered high, resulting in a decision to
wait out the owners, Whelan and Kelly. A long term lease was negotiated for
1439. The tenant in 1443, Joseph Replin, had an option to purchase from the
owner, but the investors hoped that he would not be interested in doing so because
of City weight restrictions on the upper floors, which were used as a warehouse.
David Dunklee had agreed to a sale with partial stock exchange for 1445-1451.
And the Johnson Estate, owner of the Graham Drugstore building was considering
a long term lease.129 By this time, approximately eighteen months from the time
the concept was initiated, it appeared that the corporation would probably soon
gain control over all but the Lafitte properties, the Lally property at 1421-1425,
and the Replin property at 1443.
The Lally property eventually came under the control, but not the ownership, of
the Larimer Square investors in 1967 with the previously mentioned joint venture
agreement. However, the investors never gained control of the Replin and Lafitte
properties.130 The Graham Drugstore building was purchased in 1967 for
130Several attempts were made to purchase the Replin Building, but Dana always
considered the asking price to be exorbitant. Dana did not attempt to buy the
Lafitte Restaurant properties because she felt that the restaurant was a going
concern which contributed to Larimer Square. Crawford Interview. February 19,
$75,000, the same price offered in 1965.131 The current owner of Larimer
Square, Jeffrey Hermanson of the Hermanson Family Limited Partnership, was
able to purchase the Lafitte restaurant properties, renovating the existing structure
at 1404 and building infill structures on the corner at 1400 and on the east side at
1408. The Replin property continues to be unrenovated. In the late 1970's,
Crawford offered to have the facade painted for one hundred dollars. Replin
refused, stating that he could get it done cheaper.132 Unfortunately, painting of
this facade has never occurred. The building continues to be commercially
occupied because of the Larimer Square renovation and may have historical
significance as the last remnant of Skid Row Larimer Square, complete with a fire
escape as the most prominent facade element.
The original architectural concept for the Larimer Square renovation never
considered actual restoration of the buildings. According to architect Langdon
Morris, "Restoration was far too expensive," so he utilized materials that were
readily available.133 In fact, Morris never looked at historic photographs of the
13 Larimer Square, Inc. 1967 President's Report. Dana Crawford Collection.
Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
132Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
133Morris Interview. December 23, 1997.
buildings.134 Commencing before the promulgation of the Secretary of the
Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation,135 the effort was directed to making these
older buildings functional for the trendy retail and entertainment destination
envisaged. Some exterior renovation was as simple as scraping and applying new
paint.136 However, rear additions were eliminated behind the Buerger Brothers
Building at 1436-1440 and the buildings brought into the project by Rike Wootten
at 1412-1434 on the town side to create the Courtyard of the Bear and the Bull
and a lower level restaurant. Rounded arches between the buildings and in the
basement level were intended to create a unified scheme.
The rounded arch treatment was also used on the fronts of these buildings. The
storefronts were recessed from the sidewalk lot line to provide a covered walkway
in front of these four contiguous buildings on the town side.137 Although this
would be considered an unacceptable historic preservation treatment today, at the
time it was thought to combine the best of both the old and the new. The Denver
Post, in an October 18,1965, article entitled, "Larimer Square . Recipe for
Revival,"138 lauded the sandblasting139 and steaming, and declared that the only
135The Secretary Of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation were promulgated in
136Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
137Langdon Morris Interview. January 15, 1998.
13877ze Denver Post. October 18, 1965, p. 24.
major change to the buildings was the addition of a twelve foot wide arcade at the
sidewalk level on the town side. Architect Morris explained that "the arcade and
its arches will give the six key buildings in Larimer Square both unity and dignity."
In 1968, Morris won an award of honor in Salt Lake City at the Western Mountain
Regional Conference of the AIA. The awards jury stated that "his Larimer Square
project effectively blends Denver's past and its present'not a museum, but a viable
urban space.'"140 The current owner of Larimer Square has since brought the
storefronts back to the lot linea more sympathetic historical treatment.
Morris's original assignment was to produce a plan for each side of the street. He
received no compensation for a year.141 These plans became part of the original
package which Crawford used to promote the project to potential investors. The
concept for central heating and air conditioning, with the ducts buried under the
new plaza on the town side, was his inspiration.142 After his departure as
architect, that idea was utilized for the buildings on the mountain side of the street
140The Denver Post. October 13, 1968, p. 15.
141Morris Interview. December 23, 1997.
Morris, who later served on Denver's Landmark Preservation Commission, was
the first of five architects hired by Crawford for the Larimer Square. Hard feelings
remain between them as a result of a falling out they had about the Square's
architecture. Crawford never liked the arches scheme, claiming that Morris "loved
Barcelona."143 Morris claims that because Crawford was successful as a
promoter, she felt that "she got to be a better architect than I."144 Interestingly,
Morris, who was recognized as a historic preservation authority in Colorado prior
to the Larimer Square development, primarily on a pro bono basis through his
work with the Colorado Chapter of the AIA, lost prestige as Crawford's grew.
Dana engineered it so that Mayor Thomas G. Currigan sent invitations to a press
conference of May 22, 1965, to formally announce Larimer Squarean unusual
occurrence, indeed. The invitation stated, in part:
It is an unusual procedure for this office to extend
an invitation to attend a press conference that has
been arranged by a private group. But I have been
aware for more than a year of the plans, hopes and
aspirations of this group.
These plans, hopes and aspirations . will have
a direct and beneficial influence on the City of Denver
143Crawford Interview. January 2,1998.
144Morris Interview. December 23, 1997.
for years to come.
. . While it may sound like a contradiction,
preserving the past is an integral part of going forward.145
Crawford's coup with the Mayor gave her the courage [perhaps some would say
audacity] to write to community leaders, inviting them to the event, with the
words: "After many months of planning, we are ready to tell the story of Larimer
Square. For this purpose, Mayor Thomas G. Currigan has invited the members of
the press and representatives of the radio and television media to an unusual press
conference . [Emphasis added by the author.]146
Similarly, in a memorandum to the Larimer Square investors dated May 17,
1965, Crawford advised that Mayor Currigan:
... has sent a cordial and enticing letter to both
dailies, all radio and TV stations, the weeklies, the
regional newspapers, as well as The Wall Street
Journal, Time and Life, Newsweek, and Business
Week. Letters from Larimer Square have invited
participation of leaders of the Denver Planning
Board, the Downtown Denver Improvement
Association, the Denver Master Plan Committee,
145Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square History and
Preservation File Box.
146Letter dated May 17, 1965 from Dana Crawford to Robert Cameron, Executive
Director, Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Denver Urban Renewal Authority
Manuscript Collection. Box 5. File Folder 22. Western History Department,
Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
Forward Metro Denver, the Chamber of Commerce,
Denver Urban Renewal, the State Historical Society
of Colorado, the State Highway Department, and
After a planned tour of the street, Crawford advised that the bar at Lafitte's would
be open "for anyone who wants to stay."147 Mayor Currigan wanted the press
conference to take place in the corporation's office. Because Larimer Square, Inc.,
did not have an office, Crawford had to "scrub one up" in the Granite Hotel.148
Crawford is still amused with her successful coup in convincing certain city fathers
to praise Larimer Square to the television camera when she knew most were
skeptical of her efforts.149
The planned "formal announcement" was almost compromised as a result of
Crawford's confiding her plans in Lafitte's owner Joe Sperte during the early
spring, 1965. Sperte was sworn to secrecy. Nevertheless, Crawford received a
call from a Rocky Mountain News reporter on the following day. She went to the
News' office and pleaded with the editor not to print any information at that time in
order to maintain a surprise element for the grand affair she was planning, which
she thought would make for a more impressive news story. The News relented,
148Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
149Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
burying the story with an ambiguous line in Pasquale "Pucky" Marrazino's Sunday
After the press conference, Crawford wasted no time is responding to Mayor
Currigan's encouragement by writing him a letter dated June 21, 1965.151 After
thanking the Mayor and giving the timeline for opening, she stated:
There are still a number of areas, some of which you and
I have already discussed, which will require excellent
communication and coordination between the City and
County of Denver and LARIMER SQUARE in order to
make the entire block meet the high standards we have set
for it. [Emphasis original.]
She then submitted a list including elimination of arc lights, landscaping of parking
lots, and closure of the alley between Larimer and Lawrence Streets to automobile
traffic except for deliveries.
The press conference coincided with the Denver Planning Board's
recommendation that seventeen structures in the 1400 block of Larimer Street
should be landmarks. This recommendation resulted from an independent effort of
the Urban Environment Subcommittee of the Planning Board, which was formed
150Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
151Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square History and
Preservation File Box.
and began working in the early 1960's. Its multiple charges included finding ways
to protect mountain views as well as preparing a proposal for historic preservation
legislation. As a preliminary measure, the subcommittee, whose members and
founders included Helen Millet Arndt (1913-1985)the first woman on the Denver
Planning Board in 1959and architect James S. Sudler (1920-1982),152 conducted
a "a preliminary survey of the City to identify important architectural and historic
structures and sites."153 That the press tied landmarking to the formal
announcement of Larimer Square was not coincidental. Crawford plugged the
connection, stating in a May 17,1965, memorandum, that:
Following the public announcement, effort will
be sustained to keep Larimer Square before the
public. Plans call for an official release from
Historical Society endorsement. [Freelance
writer] Betty Chancellor is preparing the release
to cover the history of the area. Soon the Planning
Board's Historic Building Inventory will be made
public. It includes the 1400 block of Larimer Street.154
152Stephen J. Leonard and Thomas J. Noel. Denver: Mining Camp to
Metropolis. Niwot, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 1990, pp. 451-2.
153Robert L. Carper, Denver Planning Office and Staff Secretary to Denver
Landmarks Preservation Commission. "A Plan for Historic Preservation in
Denver." April, 1974. City and County of Denver Office of Planning and
154Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square History and
Preservation File Box.
The press conference received excellent news coverage. The Denver Post, in a
story on May 20,1965, entitled "Larimer Street Effort Planned," stated that 92
structures, including 17 in the 1400 block of Larimer Street, were "on a list of
landmarks selected by the Planning Board subcommittee for immediate historical
documentation."155 The Rocky Mountain News on May 23, 1965, the day
following the press conference, stated that the "restoration is line with DURA's
urban environment," and also mentioned the Planning Board's recommendation
that 93 of Denver's landmarks be preserved.156 On the same day, The Denver
Post, in a story entitled "City Officials Hail $1 Million Larimer Square," reported
that "complete plans were unveiled by Mrs. Dana (John W. R.) Crawford, an
attractive Denver housewife ... the head of a for-profit corporation ... at a City
Council attended press conference . heralded by Denver business and civic
A Denver Post feature story on Dana Crawford and the Larimer Square project
appeared on May 31, 1965,158 under Women's News, entitled "Larimer Project in
Jackie Tradition." Crawford was described as "a 33-year-old slender brunette who
resembles Jacqueline Kennedy." The article compares Larimer Square with Jackie
Kennedy's restoration of the White House. Crawford described the anticipated
quality of the area: "It is definitely not going to be a tourist trapthere will not be
a popcorn stand on every corner. We want it to be another stimulus to
downtown." When asked whether preservation or profit was the motive,
Crawford replied: "This is definitely a for-profit corporation . The people who
are involved wanted a sound investment, of course. But our first motive is
preservation. After all, this belongs to the people of Denver." The article
continued by describing Crawford's hope to stimulate movement of people to live
in the core city.
In an editorial artful in its timing and logical in its composition in the June, 1965,
issue of the short-lived historical newspaper Silver State Record,159 Crawford set
forth in her own words for the people of Colorado the vision behind Larimer
Square. She stated, in part, "Instead of wrecking crews so often seen in old parts
of cities today, rebuilding crews are seen; instead of the dirt and rubble of
destruction, new bricks, paint and sandblasting are being used to revive the true
colors of these 1859-1892 era buildings." Crawford graciously credited the vision
to "a group of people as vitally interested in the future of the Mile High City as
159p. 2. Larimer Square Clippings File. Western History Department, Denver
Public Library, Denver, Colorado. The Silver State Record was printed from June,
1963, through April, 1967, and advertised itself as "Colorado First Historical
Newspaper." The newspaper reprinted news articles from Colorado's frontier days
and listed current events and activities of Colorado history groups and historical
they are in its past." She explained that after visits to Gaslight Square in Saint
Louis and conversations with shop owners in Old Town in Chicago: "The 1400
block on Larimer Street seemed a natural." After explaining the Larimer Square
concept, Crawford set forth the preservation purpose.
We believe the creation of LARIMER SQUARE
comes to Denver at a time when there is increasing
interest and concern in the preservation of our
heritage. We all sat, hopeless, and watched the
Windsor [Hotel] and the Tabor [Grand Opera
House] face the wreckers' blows, but now many
civic, as well as private groups are preparing the
way for future action.
Citing the landmark inventory prepared by the Urban Environment Subcommittee,
Crawford hoped that the effort "will put the spotlight on preservation and
precipitate an extensive landmark survey to record the buildings and their
architectural and historical contribution to this community." Finally, Crawford
thanked those who had offered expressions of support and provided information
regarding Larimer Square's history.
As is typical with Crawford's educational efforts, this editorial included a
significant public relations element. While capitalizing on existing efforts to
promote preservation in Denver, it succinctly set forth the vision to provide an
exciting entertainment center in a historic setting. The editorial also helped Denver
understand why there is more to historic preservation than saving worthy isolated
Although investor Thomas Congdon felt that there was no real business plan
initially,160 there was a basic plan of action which Crawford prepared early on.
Phase I, entitled Organization and Control, included:
1. Incorporate Larimer Square Associates
2. Gain control of the Hayutin and Carruthers [Granite Hotel]
properties and Commerce Hotel Corner [14th and Lawrence
3. Reach agreement for cooperation of city and Central Bank to
develop Larimer Square parking
4. Get financing to control Larimer Square and begin development of
Larimer Square South [town side]
5. Gain support of public and civic officials
6. Complete architectural concept
7. Develop a public relations program
8. Make a public announcement161
[Italics added by the author.]
Phase II, the Development of Larimer Square South, included a net income
projection for the first year of $75,889 for the Wootten and Hayutin properties
160Thomas Congdon Interview. December 19,1997.
161Undated business plan. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Larimer Square History and Preservation File Box.
solely. The twenty-four thousand square feet of the Granite Hotel was not
considered at this stage. Phase IQ, entitled Larimer Square North, estimated
65,850 square feet of rentable space. Phases IV and V, entitled Larimer Square
SouthCommerce Hotel Comer162 and Apartment and Hotel Facilities, identified
no specific work programs.163
Obtaining long term financing was the most problematic issue faced by Larimer
Square, Inc. Dick Gibson of Boettcher and Company assured the original
investors that conventional financing could be obtained.164 In actuality, this did
not occur until 1973. In February, 1965, the corporation borrowed $32,000 from
The Central Bank and Trust Company for sixty days with the former Wootten
properties as collateral.165 It was not until August, 1965, that a longer term one
162The Commerce Hotel on the northeast comer of 14th and Lawrence Streets
was formerly Denver's magnificent Chamber of Commerce Building. Dana looked
at the building for possible in the Larimer Square complex. However, the interior
was quite cut-up, including the addition of floors, that she did not feel the investors
could afford the renovation. The building was subsequently demolished. Dana
Crawford Interview. April 3, 1998.
164Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
165Consent of Directors dated February 2, 1965. Dana Crawford Collection.
Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2. Dana had approached The
Central Bank and Trust Company President Elwood Brooks who was supportive
of the project. The evening of that conversation, Brooks was killed in an
automobile accident. Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
year $55,000 loan from The Central Bank and Trust was secured.166 In the
interim, the corporation survived on additional stock subscriptions. Additional
short term loans for $15,000, $165,000, $60,000, $60,000 and $22,500 were
authorized by The Central Bank and Trust during late 1965 and early 1966, all
with a due date of May 17, 1966.167
Cash flow problems abounded in these early days with contracts for purchase or
lease and for contracting work being made without knowing from where the funds
would eventually come. For example, the balance sheet of February 2, 1965,
showed only $4,022 cash in the bank.168 Despite this tenuous financial situation,
decisions were made to purchase the Granite Hotel, enter into a fifty year lease for
1439 at $2400 per year, negotiate for 1445-1451 [the Dunklee property] for
$60,000, purchase 1429-1433 [the Whelan-Kelly property] for $52,000, enter into
an agreement with Kraft Building Contractors for sandblasting and steam cleaning
the Wootten properties for $44,500.169
166Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Directors of Larimer Square, Inc.
August 3, 1965. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited
Partners File Box 2.
167Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Other Loans File Box.
168Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
169Consent of Directors. Larimer Square, Inc. February 2, 1965. Dana Crawford
Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Construction work began in earnest during this time period. Many of the rear
additions to the Wootten buildings and the Buerger Brothers Building were
demolished, in part because of structural deficiencies but also to construct the
walkway behind the shops. A Rocky Mountain News story of September 11,
1965,170 in the Week-End Living section, entitled, "A Look at the Larimer Square
Project: They're Restoring--Not Destroying," included a plea from Crawford to
those concerned about the demolition that, "Please tell people we're not tearing
down old buildingswe're restoring them." The public relations aspect of this
"plea" is apparent in retrospect. It was a plea to come down to see what was
happening and to continue to come to shop after restoration was complete.
By February, 1966, the corporation was indebted to The Central Bank and Trust
Company for $327,000. In May, negotiations with The Central Bank and Trust
were successful with a short term two month commitment to refinance that
indebtedness, which was still $150,000 short of meeting the Phase I obligations.171
This resulted from the expansion of the original plans, including a central heating
and air conditioning system for all of the buildings on the town side suggested by
architect Langdon Morris as a long term cost saving measure. In order to
guarantee the commitment, Rike Wootten agreed to purchase the pledged property
171Minutes of the Special Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer
Square, Inc. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners
File Box 2.
from the bank in the event of foreclosure. By this time, it was estimated that an
additional $228,000 was necessary to complete Phase I. The Central Bank and
Trust turned down the request for this amount. A memorandum to the Larimer
Square, Inc., stockholders by Crawford prior to the June 23, 1966, Board of
Directors meeting inquired whether they wished to "participate" in Rike Wootten's
$327,000 obligation and/or to "subscribe" to a proportionate share of the
additional $228,000 thought necessary to complete the first phase.172
Because there were no takers, the directors determined on June 23, 1966, that
borrowing additional funds from willing stockholders Congdon and Wootten was
the only alternative.173 At the Board of Directors meeting, Thomas Congdon
pointed out that the then current cost projections were close to those originally
estimated by Boettcher and Company and by the corporation's accounting firm,
Arthur Young & Co., and the tenants were providing break even expenses. He
and Rike Wootten agreed to provide $175,000 in additional short term [six month]
financing at six and one-half percent with a second mortgage on the corporation's
property as collateral. The directors also decided to explore raising the additional
$228,000 by providing stock options for the guarantors, which, according to
172Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
173Minutes of the Annual Joint Meeting of the Stockholder and Directors.
Larimer Square, Inc. June 23,1966. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square
Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Congdon, Crawford felt could be done.174 Unfortunately, this effort was
In November, 1966, at a meeting of the corporation's Executive Committee
called to discuss the precarious financing situation,175 attorney Hardin Holmes,
suggested that Wootten and Congdon, the holders of the short term second
mortgage, contribute their interests into a limited partnership, with the corporation
and Dana Crawford acting as general partners. This would preclude foreclosure
and the liquidation of the equity investment of the corporation's shareholders. To
meet legal requirements, the corporation would transfer all of its assets to the
limited partnership, and the limited partners would contribute the amount of the
short term indebtedness. In addition the limited partners would agree to make at
least an additional $150,000 of additional funds available to the partnership as
equitythrough loans from third parties or otherwise. The corporation, Larimer
Square, Inc., would receive forty-seven and one-half percent of the partnership
interest; the limited partners would receive forty-seven and one-half percent
which represented the $217,000 which was owed to them at that time as on a
175Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting. Larimer Square, Inc.
November 17, 1966. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited
Partners File Box 2.
short term basisand Dana Crawford, who had few assets but was working night
and day, would receive a five percent interest.176
This arrangement was approved by the Board of Directors on November 21,
1966.177 The new limited partnership was called Larimer Square Associates, Ltd.
In addition to the terms discussed by the Executive Committee on November 17,
1966, it was agreed that all limited partners would share in Rike Wootten's
guarantee to The Central Bank and Trust Company to purchase the pledge
property in the event of foreclosure. In consideration, ninety percent of the profits
and losses would be credited or charged to the limited partners until the amounts
distributed to them met their investments.
The reorganization into this limited partnership, the first of two, was an
important milestone for Larimer Square. The generosity and foresight of investors
Rike Wootten and Thomas Congdon actually saved the venture. Other financing
was just not available, and without Phase I completed, Phase II, which focused on
renovating the mountain side of the street, could not proceed. Crawford
compliments her partners"I could not have had better partners than Rike
177Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer Square,
Inc. November 21,1966. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
(Wootten) and Tom (Congdon).178 The investors were in a position to lose the
entire investment. The Central Bank required a mortgage on all of the Larimer
Square properties, personal signatures, double collateral, and a second mortgage
on the Crawford home.179
Congdon and Wootten had done their homework before agreeing to the limited
partnership arrangement. Congdon traveled to Ghiardelli Square to talk with those
involved in that project, and favorably compared the cost basis of Ghiardelli to
Larimer Square. His projected income statementbased upon completion Phase I
and the Lally and Replin buildings of Phase II, square foot sales rates of Denver,
tenants paying percentage rentals, and a ten percent vacancy rate was for
$350,000 per year. In other words, they were convinced that continuing the effort
would result in a profitable enterprise.180 Later, William Miller, a Denver oilman
and friend of Thomas Congdon, became involved as a limited partner as well.
In July, 1967, while the search for long term financing continued, a ten year
commitment was obtained in July, 1967, with The Central Bank and Trust
Company for $496,371.24, representing refinancing of existing indebtedness, and
178Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
179Ibid.; Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Other Loans File Box.
180Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer Square,
Inc. November 21, 1966. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
which also included advance possibilities of an additional $100,000 to meet other
anticipated expenses, such as restaurant renovation, demolition of buildings on
Market Street for use as a parking lot, and central air conditioning in the Miller
Building at 1401-1407. Other short term loans, such as one for $200,000
($236,000 with other advances) for three year term was obtained from the First
National Bank of Denver in June, 1970, to renovate the Graham Drugstore
building at 1455-1463 for occupancy by The Magic Pan restaurant, with an
additional payment of $16,000 for subordination, and $54,000 was secured from
the National State Bank in Boulder.181
The following long term financing possibilities did not materialize. In June,
1967, a fifteen to twenty year loan application for between $750,000 to
$1,000,000 had been submitted to the Equitable Insurance Company. As an
alternative, a ten year loan for $500,000 was being process with The Central Bank
and Trust Company of Denver.182 In early 1968, John Crawford was talking with
Connecticut General Life Insurance Company about a $600,000 loan with a
commitment to expand to $1,000,000 when more leases were signed. By April,
181Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Other Loans File Box.
Colorado National Bank played a minor role in Larimer Square's financing but
used photographs of the Square in its "We make things happen" campaign.
Thomas Congdon Interview. January 15, 1998.
182Minutes of Annual Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer
Square, Inc. June 22, 1967. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
1968, a $3,000,000 loan application was filed with Connecticut General's
requested documents showing the long range development plan for the entire
project. This would be a twenty year loan amortized over eighteen years.183
Unfortunately, this effort was unsuccessful as well. Additionally, a proposal from
Eastdil Realty, Inc., in, February, 1970, to loan $2,500,000 with $1,070,000
maintained as equity, was not favorably received by the investors.184 The Larimer
Square investors were fearful that permanent financing could never be obtained,
which meant they would continue to spend so much valuable time with short term
refinancing efforts or face foreclosure.
Following the advice of Van Schaack & Company,185 New York Life Insurance
Company had been wooed by both John and Dana for some time for permanent
long term financing. In mid-1972, it gave a loan commitment with three
conditions: purchase of 1421-1425; purchase of the Replin Building at 1443; and
subordination or purchase of the Hayutin lease.186 All of these had been tried
183Minutes of the Annual Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer
Square, Inc. April 29, 1968. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
184Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer Square,
Inc. February 9, 1970. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
185Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
186Minutes of the Joint Meeting of Stockholders and Directors. Larimer Square,
Inc. July 28, 1972.
before, and additional efforts to meet these requirements were unsuccessful.
Fortunately, further negotiations resulted in a $1,900,000 loan from New York
Life with an additional $1,700,000 conditioned upon completion of an additional
ninety thousand square feet of rentable space.187 (A substitute loan for
$4,600,000 was later made on December 19, 1975, for a twenty-two year
term.188) The New York Life agreement required copies of all leases and
regularly supplied information regarding tenants and income.189
The initial $2 million New York Life loan was significantly newsworthy to be
reported locally as the "first for an officially designated historic district on the basis
of one ownership and a successful operating record."190 The news report
continued that Larimer Square Associates could then move forward with a
187Promissory Note dated August 20, 1973. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer
Square Files. New York Life Loans File Box.
188Promissory Note dated December 19,1975. Dana Crawford Collection.
Larimer Square Files. New York Life Loans File Box.
189In December, 1980, New York Life loaned an additional $1.3 million.
Summary of New York Life Loans. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square
Files. New York Life Loans File Box. In March, 1985, it loaned an additional $2
million. Memorandum dated March 25, 1985 from Dana and John Crawford to
Larimer Square Associates Partners regarding 1984 Report and 1985 Update.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
190Undated newspaper in Larimer Square Clippings File. Western History
Department, Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado.
$800,000 renovation and complete Larimer Square within twelve to eighteen
A second important reorganization occurred in early 1973, partially in response
to the prospective new loan situation with New York Life but also because
Larimer Square was becoming profitable. In 1969, the partners expressed a desire
to provide the Crawfords with twenty-five percent of future profits in lieu of the
five percent of gross rentals management fee they were earning. This had replaced
the $25,000 per year [$10,000 allocated to Dana and $15,000 allocated to John]
compensation they started to receive in June, 1966, "to induce them to continue
with the project without salary increases."191 The principal objectives of the
(a) to preserve the existing interests of the partners (including
shareholders through the Corporation) in the Partnership's
capital, while adjusting their interests in any future profits
and losses of the Partnership so as to reflect the relative
contributions of the partners in the form of capital loans,
loan guaranties and services;
(b) to facilitate the possibility of substantial new financing for
the Partnership by assuring the continued financial support
of the limited partners (including continued forbearance
19 Memorandum by Stephen Gurko, Esquire, Ireland, Stapleton, Pryor & Holmes,
dated August 10,1972 to Partners of Larimer Square Associates and Directors
and Shareholders of Larimer Square, Inc. re Proposal to Restructure the
Partnership. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners
File Box 1.
from the collection of indebtedness to the limited partners
until such financing can be obtained, and the furnishing of
personal guaranties satisfactory to the lenders for a
substantial portion of such financing) and the continued
services of the individual general partner [Dana] and Mr.
(c) to improve the long-term income tax consequences of the
shareholders by substituting them as limited partners in
place of the Corporation as general partner.192
In other words, for ease of loan application and so that the shareholders could
avoid double taxation of any profits [in the form of both income to the corporation
and dividends to the individual shareholders], the corporation would be dissolved.
Rike Wootten, Thomas Congdon, and, later, William Miller did not have limited
liability at all since they had personally guaranteed most indebtedness. The
shareholders also became limited partners, and Dana Crawford was to receive
twenty-five percent of profits once Larimer Square became profitable. Therefore,
many objectives were accomplished by the reorganization, including rewarding
Crawford for her many unpaid hours.
Several of the long term investors opted out either partially or in full at this
juncture. Ralph Saltsman, whose original investment was $25,000, received a
promissory note for $75,000, to be paid in three installments. Douglas Carruthers,
John Robert Wootten, Langdon Morris, and Mary P. Temple also opted out
entirely. David Dunklee did so partially.193
Offering circulars were prepared in 1976, 1977, and 1978 in order to obtain
additional investors to complete Larimer Square's renovation.194 What began as a
$1 million project in 1965 had grown in scope and concept. [Indeed, renovations
occurred right up to the sale of Larimer Square in 1986, with over $584,000 in
renovation expense attributed to the Congdon Building during 1985.]195 The
circular stated that the project was "75% complete." This offering brought in
eleven new limited partners. The final investor list was:196
Dana H. Crawford
John W. R. Crawford, III
Rike D. Wootten
Thomas E. Congdon
William D. Miller
1930ffers, Promissory Notes and Guaranties to Larimer Square, Inc. stockholders.
Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 1.
194The offering circulars are currently filed in Limited Partners File Box 1.
195Memorandum dated May 20, 1986 from Dana H. Crawford, General Managing
Partner, Larimer Square Associates to Larimer Square Limited Partners. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
196Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Harry J. Kelly, Jr.
Catherine Sue Bradford (formerly Catherine Sue Morrison)
Patricia S. and James W. Shroeder, joint tenants
BH & F Investment Company (Norman Brownstein of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber
Boulder Associates (Meyer M. Saltzman)
FTS Partnership (Howard Torgrove)
John E. Fuller
William, Jr., and Betty G. McFerren, tenants in common
Larry A. Mizell
Henry K., M.D., and Harriet A. Silver, tenants in common
Mary C. Van Ever a
Dana Crawford's nickname, "The Dragon Lady of Larimer Square," was
bestowed upon her by Larimer Square tenants. The twenty-three page lease which
Larimer Square tenants were required to sign gave Larimer Square, Inc., [and later
Larimer Square Associates], a remarkable degree of authority over a tenant's
activities. And Crawford, as manager of Larimer Square, used that authority. Joel
Kunkel, owner of the restaurant called the Royal Platte River Yacht Club, which
was located in the Miller Building at 1401-1407, stated that the lease "leaves no
room for mistakes in management."197 The Cafe Promenade's Fred Thomas felt,
"She is a very good businesswoman, and you have to be callous witch to be a very
197Rocky Mountain News. June 30, 1974, pp. 3-4.
good businesswoman. I have great admiration for her."198 Crawford's response
was, "In an area like this you have to set standards of quality and maintain control.
. We want Larimer Square here 100 years from now, and control is the only way
a project like this can succeed."199 However, a former tenant claimed that she was
after the profit and not quality. Kurt Wendt, a craftsman who had moved from
Larimer Square to the 1400 block of Market Street, complained that he was
evicted because of inadequate gross sales. "If they would take their time and wait
for the money that would come in, I would still be there. I feel she didn't have the
ability to see the difference between the output of a craftsman and the souvenirs of
a souvenir shop."200
The lease agreements were prepared by attorney Hardin Holmes who based them
on a suburban shopping center model in which the landlord retains a great deal of
control over aesthetic issues and hours of doing business. He became acquainted
with this type of lease as a result of being assigned King Soopers as a client by his
law firm when he came to Denver in 1959. At that time, King Soopers had just ten
stores, and all were on leased premises.201 The degree of commonality desired
20 holmes Interview. January 8, 1998.
was a new concept for downtown retail lessees and became important to the
success of Larimer Square.
During Phase I, the leases provided for a percentage of gross sales, payable on a
monthly basis. Later, a fixed minimum monthly rent was added. Tenants were
responsible for their share of real estate taxes, utilities, and expenses associated
with maintenance of common areas. In addition, the leases provided that the
... in order to preserve the historical integrity and
character of Larimer Square as it has originally been
conceived, expressly reserves the right to promulgate
reasonable rules and regulations relating to the overall
appearance and conduct of the Tenants' operations in
Larimer Square. These rules and regulations may
include from time to time, but shall not be limited to,
provisions governing the size, location and design of
signs, the exterior appearance of leased premises,
hours of business, lighting, parking facilities and
deliveries of merchandise.202
Tenants were also required to become active [paying] members of the advertising
and promotion entity, the Larimer Square Merchants Association.203
202Business Lease, Larimer Square, p. 5. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer
Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 1.
Historian Sandra Dallas, in a 1968 article for Colorful Colorado, entitled
"Larimer Square," reported that "[l]ike Ghiardelli, Larimer Square is owned and
managed by a single business entity, enabling it to maintain a climate of excellence.
While most such developments are spontaneous regressions into the past, Larimer
Square is a totally planned, tightly controlled project with the avowed dual
purposes of restoring a portion of the city's architectural heritage and making
Dallas further reported how Denver's high society in December, 1965 attended
the opening of Larimer Square's first "bistro," Your Father's Mustache,205 in
formal attire. The Rocky Mountain News, in an article entitled "Banjos Play
Spiritual Tunes as Larimer Square Opens," announced that owner Joel Schiavone
took to the bandstand to welcome his guests.206 Denver's was the seventh
restaurant "sprinkled across the countiy"207 with its Gay Nineties theme.
Schiavone was intrigued with Denver and Larimer Square, stating that, "Denver's
potential has been attractive to us for some time . .But this location in Larimer
204Sandra Dallas. "Larimer Square." Colorful Colorado. Summer, 1968, pp. 2D-
205Dana always thought that Larimer Square's first retail establishment would be
on the town side in a Phase I building. However, Your Father's Mustache opened
at 1433 on the mountain side in the Frontenac Building.
206Rocky Mountain News. December 31, 1965, p. 2D.
2mRocky Mountain News, August 27, 1965, p. 89.
Square makes the prospect even more inviting. We are looking forward to
Denver, a city with a reputation for being young at heart. "208 The December
article told the tale of Dana and John Crawford's dropping in on St. Louis's
Gaslight Square establishment, leaving a Larimer Square promotional folder, which
landed Schiavone in Denver three days later. At Your Father's Mustache's
opening, Dana Crawford stated, "There'll be no 3.2 places, no go-go clubs and no
strip houses"209 on Larimer Square, emphasizing that the quality represented by
Your Father's Mustache was her goal.
Four shops opened in January, 1966. The Denver Post reported that
Gusterman's Silversmith shop, the Blue Bottle stained glass shop, Poor Richard's
leather goods, and Gondola Boutiques apre's ski and sportswear would open in the
Court of the Bear and the Bull, the courtyard which Langdon Morris created
behind the Buerger Brothers and Sussex Buildings. The courtyard was named for
the carved sandstone heads salvaged from the Miners Exchange Building at 15th
and Arapahoe Streets which had been placed in one of the brick archways over the
arcade leading to the courtyard 210 The article reported that, "Business hours of
the Larimer Square shops initially will be from noon through evening hours,
Rocky Mountain News, December 31, 1965, p. 2D.
210The Denver Post, January 23, 1966, p. 2H.
subject to change as shopping patterns are determined."211 Also included were
thirty elegant "apartments" on the upper floors 212 By the end of 1966, Larimer
Square boasted 21 shops and restaurants and a theatre 213 The plan was for one-
half retail and one-half office space, a goal which was achieved 214
Not long after the first tenants arrived, Crawford came up with the idea for a
coordinated management company so that Larimer Square, Inc., could own and
manage businesses within Larimer Square. As she stated in a memorandum to the
Larimer Square stockholders dated January 12, 1966:215
During the seven and a [sic] half months we have been
creating Larimer Square, we've learned many things. We
have talked to hundreds of potential tenants; we have
counseled them, designed space for them, planned public
relations campaigns for them, become friends with them.
Some of them have the money to do what they want to do
some don't. Some have the talent-some don't. We've
been looking for the winning combinations. A lot of these
people lack management experience.
2^2Daily Journal. January 26, 1966.
213Ihe Denver Post. December 5, 1966, p. 50.
214Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998,
215Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Crawford sought a separate corporation fully subscribed by the Larimer Square,
Inc., stockholders. "The running of the various shop operations and counseling
services would then be in trusted hands where controls could be exercised. A
master bookeeping [sic] system and flexible personnel placement could save
substantial amounts of money."216 Crawford hoped that such an organization
would strengthen Larimer Square, Inc.'s, position regarding long term financing
because of "the active role in shop management and direct participation within
some of the other tenant's organizations as a much stronger lease situation than
with a number of small tenants."217 The concept had been approved by the
Executive Committee during a meeting on January 4, 1966.218
Crawford's retail operations expanded during the ensuing years for a variety of
other reasons. For example, New York Life Insurance Company required a certain
percentage of shops to be rented. Other years, especially the late 1970s and early
1980s, witnessed difficulty in maintaining tenants. In 1982, shops managed by
Crawford were responsible for ten percent of the rental revenues. She owned and
managed the Market, a gourmet grocery and expresso bar, the County Christmas
Store, a Chinese restaurant called "Soo Tsong," and a fifty percent interest in the
218Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
Granite Hotel's Cabaret wine bar.219 One enterprise which did not materialize but
which wasted a great deal of time was the Silver Palace, a planned dinner theater
on multiple levels in the Buerger Brothers and Sussex Buildings, based on one in
Gaslight Square.220 "A lot of money was spent, but a lot more was needed to
open and operate it,"221and the buildings eventually filled up with other tenants.
In a memorandum dated August 22, 1966 from Crawford to the Larimer Square
stockholders regarding the August Progress Report, she stated:
The most serious problem is the tight money market. This
is slowing the progress of the Silver Palace; however, there
is a meeting this Wednesday which may shake a few things
loose. It is a very expensive projectabout $300, OOO222
1967 saw no progress. In her 1967 President's Report, Crawford reported:
With the exception of the Silver Palace restaurant enter-
tainment space which encompasses 9000 Square [sic]
feet and when complete will involve 10,000 square feet,
all of Phase I ground and basement levels were leased.
The Silver Palace concept and proposal developed in
detail in 1967 by John Crawford and projected at a cost
of $500,000 for a tenant was not acceptable to the hand-
219Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
220Crawford Interview. February 19, 1998.
222Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
fill of interested prospects who could afford to consider it.223
A Small Business Association lease guarantee application for the Silver Palace was
made, 223 224 but did not materialize.
Crawford eventually operated a night club called the Cabaret, which opened on
New Year's Day in 1982. Litigation resulted with the owners of The Flick, a
movie theater in the basement of the Granite Hotel. According to the complaint
filed in Denver District Court, the:
. . musical performers employed by Larimer Lane
Restaurant Company produced sound emissions which
materially and adversely affected Plaintiffs [The Flick's)]
business and its right to quiet enjoyment of its leased
premises, and which made the premises untenantable
for Plaintiffs business 225
Larimer Square Associates counterclaimed for unpaid rent. The case was settled
out of court.226 Crawford's six month report to the limited partners on August 8,
224Memorandum dated March 14, 1968, from Dana H. Crawford to Larimer
Square Stockholders. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited
Partners File Box 2.
225Complaint, p, 2. Landmark Theatre Corporation, a California corporation, v.
Larimer Square Associates, limited partnership, Larimer Square, Inc., a Colorado
corporation, Larimer Lane Restaurant Corporation, a Colorado corporation, and
Dana H. Crawford. District Court, City and County of Denver, Case Number 82
1982, read that "never reported by the press was the fact that the Flick's best
month in three years was $36,000 during the sound problem with many months at
half that. They were eager to get out of their lease by taking advantage of the
sound problem."226 227
Crawford's struggle for tenants of increasing qualitywhich began in 1965 with
unsuccessful attempts to convince the May Company to locate in Larimer
Square228 to construct "a replica of its first Denver store in the Granite Hotel
building"229did not come to fruition until the mid-1980s, after construction of
the 16th Street Mall, the Tabor Center, Writer Square, and Tivoli brought
additional shoppers to the area 230 The first high-end shop was Williams Sonoma
in 1983. Next was Laura Ashley in August, 1984. Ylang Ylang, a European
costume jewelry shop, opened in December, 1984. Crawford had been courting
Ann Taylor, a fine women's clothing store for years, including dropping into its
226Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. The Flick/Landmark Theatre
Corporation Lawsuit File Box.
227Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
228Progress Report dated January 11, 1966 from Dana Crawford, President to
Larimer Square, Inc. Stockholders. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square
Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
229Article regarding possible 1965 relocation of the May Company in Larimer
Square. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Larimer Square
History and Preservation File Box.
230Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
headquarters in New York City several times each year. Ann Taylor claimed it did
not wish to open a shop west of the Mississippi. After Crawford "caught" them in
San Francisco, they relented and leased on Larimer Square commencing May,
1985. In 1986, Talbot's followed.231 Only then did Crawford feel that Larimer
Square was "out of danger" financially. These high end shops chose Larimer
Square because of its favorable location between the new Tabor Center and Tivoli
Larimer Square merchants participated in promotional activities through the
Larmier Square Merchants Association, Inc., which was originally established
informally and formally incorporated in June, 1968, with its purpose to promote
and advertise Larimer Square.233 An Executive Director, Ellie McKeefe, was
hired.234 The Board of Directors was to include at least one representative from
each of hotels,235 eating and drinking establishments, and shops. Promotional
efforts were paid with one-third from Larimer Square, Inc., one-third from Larimer
232Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
233Certificate of Incorporation of Larimer Square Merchants Association, Inc.
June 12,1968, Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion
Fund File Box.
234President's Report 1967-1968. Larimer Square Merchants Association, Inc.
Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion Fund File Box.
2350f which there never were any.
Square Merchants Association, and one-third from profits on events. Larimer
Square, Inc., always invested at least one dollar more in the organization so that it
could determine policy if there was an even split with the tenants.236 The June 10,
1968, report from President Luther Shook, owner of The Tom Cat, a men's
clothing and accessory shop, exemplifies the types of activities which the
association sponsored: an International Independence Day celebration; a tie-in
with Cheyenne Frontier Days by having Sioux dancers perform; advertisements in
Guest Guide, Greeters Guide, the PGA program, Town and Country, and Where
magazine; travel features in Denver newspapers; several nationality days; Colorado
Potters Build Show, The Denver Art Club Show, Young Audience Day, Colorado
Artists/Craftsmen Show, and the annual Christmas Walk.237 In reporting to the
investors on the success of the Larimer Square Merchants Association in January,
1968, Crawford stated:
In 1967 the Larimer Square Merchants Association was
better organized with bylaws and an unusual system of
dues assessment established to meet the diverse nature
of the Larimer Square tenants.238
236Crawford Interview. January 2, 1998.
237President's Report 1967-1968. Larimer Square Merchants Association. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion Fund File Box.
2381967 President's Report dated January 22, 1968. Larimer Square, Inc. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
She explained that much of this was due to hiring Nita Rudduck as a public
relations and advertising consultant.
Through her efforts a remarkable amount of local and
national publicity has been attained and a series of traffic-
building special events have been staged. The typical
Larimer Square tenants and their Association demand a
large amount of management's time, but the results are
rewarding. Compared with the usual shopping center,
tenant landlord relations are good. It is an area that could
be improved. Larimer Square Associates has participated
in promotional efforts in the amount of approximately
The initial publicity expenses were quite modest. For example, the starting
balance on January 1, 1968, was a mere $158.42. Mid-year receipts by June 10,
1968 totaled $7482.75.240 Later on, ambitious and sophisticated budgets were
devised to deal with much grander events. In 1979, for example, the budget was
$122,000.241 The popular Oktoberfest alone netted sales in 1982 of $60,559.53
after expenses of $42,615.89 242
240Financial Statement, Larimer Square Merchants Association as of June 10th,
1968. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion Fund File
241Memorandum dated June 23, 1980, from Larimer Square Associates to Larimer
Square Merchants regarding 1979 Promotion Fund Breakdown. Dana Crawford
Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion Fund File Box.
242October, 1982, Expense and Final Income Statement. Dana Crawford
When Larimer Square commenced, John Crawford rented an office in the
Boston Building at 17th and Champa Streets for his geology business, but moved
to Larimer Square "early on."243 As his time on Larimer Square business
increased, he gradually withdrew from and eventually gave up geology. Dana
Crawford, as the spokesperson, handled leasing and did most of the planning.
Initially, John kept the bookswithout a calculator. Eventually, he took "a
scientific approach"244 to each tenant and dealt with the accounting staff. John
also worked with the contractors, dealing with draws, and took the lead in
obtaining the long term financing. "Neither of us had any idea about the
magnitude of what we were getting into," says Dana.245 The compensation for
Dana and John was so disproportionate for the work they performed that it caused
Hardin Holmes to withdraw as counsel. The desires of limited partners Rike
Wootten and Thomas Congdon to compensate the Crawfords more than the
investment could afford created a conflict of interest for Holmes, who as attorney
for the corporate entity had to render his advise based upon what was best for the
corporation and not for its individual directors or shareholders.246 For example, in
Collection. Larimer Square Files. Promotion Fund File Box.
243Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
246Holmes Interview. January 8, 1998.
1966, John Crawford computed that Dana worked for $1.25 per hour for her
$10,000 yearly salary,247 which, if correct, means she received only two hours
sleep each night if correct248
Holmes recalls the Crawford team as an example of the "rule of opposites
attracting."249 John was "a laid back B personality" and "Dana is an A
personality."250 They were not competitive. John dealt with "operational
problems," and "Dana did the big stuff."251
Denver's liquor license laws rendered it difficult for Larimer Square to develop
the restaurant concepts that Crawford envisioned. Indeed, in mid-1966, she wrote
to the investors that Larimer Square was opening differently than she had planned
"with shops and offices opening before the real traffic gettersthe bars and
247Mid-year Salary Analysis dated June 16, 1966, by John Crawford. Dana
Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
248To earn a $10,000 salary at $1.25 per hour requires 8000 of work, compared
with 8760 total hours in a year.
restaurants."252 Beginning with the administration of Mayor Quigg Newton
(1947-1955), which cracked down on the bribery to City Council members to
generate liquor licenses, it was extremely difficult to obtain a new license. One
was required to transfer a license in conjunction with proving the needs of the
neighborhood for an additional bar. As a result, Denver has significantly fewer
liquor licenses in 1965 compared with 1947, when Newton took office.253
The "needs of the neighborhood" standard was problematic because Larimer
Square was surrounded by seedy bars before the Skyline plan of the Denver Urban
Renewal Authority knocked them down. It was for this reason that Larimer
Square Associates opposed the 3.2 beer license for 1421-1425 [later withdrawing
the objection after the joint venture involving that property was formed]. Your
Father's Mustache, the first Larimer Square business entity, was successful in
receiving a license after a three month wait.254 Indeed, Crawford reported to the
Larimer Square stockholders in a memorandum of January 11,1966, that:
With the granting of the liquor license for "Your Father's
252Memorandum dated July 8, 1966, from Dana Crawford to Larimer Square
Stockholders regarding July Progress Report. Dana Crawford Collection.
Larimer Square Files. Limited Partners File Box 2.
253Holmes Interview. January 8,1998.
254Your Father's Mustache owner Joel Schiavone paid for an entire 1965 year's
license so that he could open on December 28, 1965, instead of waiting three days
to pay for a 1966 license. The Denver Post. December 31, 1965, p. 2D.
Mustache", Larimer Square is once again running at a
rapid pace. The Mustache opened December 28 and
grossed more than $4000 in its first weeka record for
first week operations in their operations. Last Friday and
Saturday nights, people lined up waiting to get in.255
However, shortly thereafter, when Cafe Promenade was scheduled to open in the
lower level of the Wootten Building at 1416-1422, its license was denied.
Requesting help from Larimer Square supporter Mayor Thomas Currigan was
unsuccessful. He merely referred Crawford to the Manager of Excise and
Licensing, who in turn recommended a "certain" attorney, whose up front fee was
"not justified by the time and effort."256 Because she was not interested in
pursuing that route, Crawford put attorney Hardin Holmes to work. He argued,
all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, that the two bars of Larimer Square
would cater to a different segment of society than those existing in the remainder
of the area. Holmes even brought in as an expert witness a professor from the
University of Denver's business college.257 This argument, which Holmes
considers to be one of the highlights of his legal career, was successful. The Cafe
255Progress Report dated January 6,1966, from Dana Crawford to Larimer
Square, Inc. Stockholders. Dana Crawford Collection. Larimer Square Files.
Limited Partners File Box 2.
256Holmes Interview. January 8, 1998.
257Holmes states that his law school training at Yale University emphasized the
sociological and economic consequences of public policy, and this was the first
time he put that training to work on one of his own cases. Hardin Holmes
Interview, April 27, 1998.
Promenade had its license, although, in retrospect, it would have been cheaper to
have hired the attorney recommended by the Manager of Excise and Licensing.258
Unfortunately, the same problem arose with the next request. As a result,
Holmes came up with an ideabased on a recent liquor license approval for
Denver's Playboy Club at 17th and Grant Streets as a result of a connection over
17th Avenueto have one license for each side of the street, using centralized
management for all bars and designating the existing underground tunnels as the
"official" connection. This "one roof theory" permitted tagging on to existing
liquor licenses. The argument worked, resulting in the Larimer Lane Restaurant
Company for the Larimer-Lawrence alley in 1967followed a few years later by
the Market Lane Restaurant Company for the Larimer-Market alleyas the entities
which possessed the liquor licenses.259
258Holmes Interview. January 8,1998.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION REGULATIONS AND INCENTIVES
Landmark District Designation
In July, 1971, Larimer Square was designated by the Denver City Council as
Denver's first historic district, or, to use the parlance of Denver's ordinance, the
first District for Preservation. Denver Landmark Preservation Commission
[DLPC], Vice-Chair Edward D. White, Jr., who conducted the hearing, stated at
its beginning that, "Designation is long overdue as Larimer Square is listed in the
high-priority category in the Commission's inventory of structures and districts,
and is the only remaining group of 19th century buildings in the Skyline Urban
Renewal Area."260 Even though the recommendation from the DLPC to the City
Council may have seemed predetermined, White was probably merely reciting
factual statements from previous studies. The designation was opposed by
property owners on the Square other than the Larimer Square Associates, who
expressed concerns which are typical in hearings of this type. Their input was
important because Denver's landmark ordinance requires the consent of a majority
of property owners to submit an application for designation of a district.
260Minutes. Denver Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 21, 1971.
Attorney Ben Klein, then an owner of 1421-1425, objected to that building
being included because it "is not original and has no architectural or historical
significance." The response from the DLPC was that although individual buildings
may not qualify as individual landmarks because they lack architectural or
historical importance, "the group as a whole is significant in its value for
preservation as a part of the community." Charles Cousins, a joint venturer in that
property and a lessee of the joint venture, was concerned about both the effect on
property values and the nature of the alteration approval process. The DPLC
responded that property values had significantly increased since the renovation
commenced, and that if agreement between the property owner and the DPLC can
not be reached on proposed work, new buildings, or demolition within ninety days,
the work may proceed. Joe Replin, owner of 1443, was concerned about
restrictions on sale and on changes to the interior of a structure. Again referring to
the ordinance, White explained that no restrictions would apply to either
A motion for approval passed eight to zero. Included in the proposed district
were all buildings on the 1400 block of Larimer Street, including the Lafitte's
restaurant lots, which were not controlled by Larimer Square Associates. In its
findings, the DPLC stated that the designation of Larimer Square as a District for
Preservation "relates affirmatively to a number of the broad community objectives
set forth in Denver's Comprehensive Plan:
To preserve Denver's historical western heritage,
To enhance Denver's position as a center of tourism,
entertainment, retaining [sic], education, culture and
To enhance the economic well-being of the citizenry,
To prevent and eliminate all blight,
To strengthen Denver's character and identity for
functional areas of the City,
To preserve and improve the environment of all areas of
the City, and
To enhance the aesthetic qualities of the community.
Why did it take the Larimer Square Associates four years to apply for this
designation when Denver's landmark ordinance was enacted in 1967? Some major
renovation had been completed by this time. Yet much remained to do, so some
"battles" over design review, not a favorite process of Dana, could be anticipated.
Dana explains it as an educational experience. She was instrumental in the
founding of Historic Denver, Inc. in 1970. She also attended her first National
Trust for Historic Preservation conference in 1968 and returned to it in subsequent
years.262 And, in typical Dana Crawford style, she wanted her historic district to
be Denver's first263
262Crawford Interview. February 10, 1998.
263Crawford Interview. February 19,1998.
In March, 1974, the Denver City Council passed an amendment to Denver's
landmark ordinance to provide for increased protection of historic districts.264
Existing historic districts could be redesignated with architectural design standards
for any exterior alterations or new construction. Therefore, if the DLPC finds that
the proposed work does not meet the standards, it has the authority to deny a
building or demolition permit without time limitation. This change was significant
because the original ordinance could delay a permit for ninety days only. The
amendment applied only to districts, not to individually designated landmarks.
Shortly after this amendment was enacted, Larimer Square Associates applied for
redesignation with proposed architectural design standards which included a height
limitation of sixty-four feet.
Larimer Square's request for redesignation is curious. The leadership in this
effort by Dana Crawford and Larimer Square Associates is contrary to Crawford's
traditional desire not to have to deal with design standards or guidelines. The
answer probably lies in the terms of the lease between Larimer Square, Inc., and
the Hayutin brothers, Albert and Robert, for the vacant lots adjacent to the Granite
Hotel.265 The lease provided that after December 31, 1974, with six months
notice, the Hayutins could opt the vacant lots out of the lease and develop them.
Crawford was concerned that inappropriate development would occur,
264The citation for Denver's landmark ordinance is Section 30-1, et. seq., Revised
Municipal Code of the City and County of Denver.
265Currently known as Noel Park.