1215 20th Street
Sat and Sun 10AM–4PM
Architect: Frederick Eberly
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
Year Built: 1889
Designation: Colorado Historic Landmark 1999
Photo Restrictions: No
The Koppers Airedale Building has a well-defined Queen Anne architectural design, and the building today is relatively intact and aesthetically similar to the day it was first constructed. It has been continuously in use since it was built, apart for a period of vacancy in the 1980s when the City deemed the top two floors uninhabitable due to fire code violation as well as lack of heat and running water.
Even though the building saw better days during its long history, it survived Denver’s history and became a Colorado Historic Landmark. The building, now restored and refurbished, houses the Hostel Fish on the second and third floors, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox Restaurant and Bar on the first floor, and a crawl space lower stage area.
Frederick Carl Eberly practiced in Denver fro 1880 through 1914. He was responsible for designing many public and residential structures, including the Union Warehouse, now Barth Hotel, in 1882, the original Arapahoe County Courthouse in 1883, and Zang Mansion in 1904. Other projects are the Blatz Brewery, the Tivoli Union Brewery, the Gertrude Apartments, the Colorado Bakery and Saloon, and Groussman Grocery.
Queen Anne was a popular design style for residential properties during the 1880s and 1930s, and there are even a few commercial buildings that adopted this vernacular as well. This style was used here perhaps to distinguish this particular building in the neighborhood, or maybe to declare its status with buildings in other parts of downtown Denver.
The building’s Queen Anne style is identifiable by strong symmetry and formal arrangements of windows, bay projections, doorways, and storefronts. The street façade is very organized in its strict arrangement, organization, and use of materials. The style is reflected in the projected stacked window bays on the second and third floors with square returns, as well as the double hung windows and fixed picture windows facing the street. The bay projections have classical ornamentation and surrounds, which are highlighted by horizontally paneled plinths, fluted pilasters, and mullions with stylized capitals. The windows have limestone sills and lintels as well as wood sashes. A slightly projecting brick stretcher belt course spans the width of the façade at the upper two floors and a dog tooth course at the lintel levels. The bays are flanked by single tall rectangular double-hung windows that open symmetrically around the center.
The first floor has a storefront system with three distinct recessed doorways. The center door leads to the stairway to the upper floors, while the two on the left and right of the center access the first floor commercial spaces. The roof has a dominating pressed metal cornice, complete with horizontal panels and dentils. The center of the cornice is interrupted with a raised front gable pediment. There is also a steel framed rooftop skylight, which serves as a light well.
Albert Koppers and his wife moved to Denver in 1882. In 1889, the Koppers built the Koppers Saloon and Hotel, which functioned as a three-story saloon and hotel at the corner of 20th and Lawrence Streets. The building was a hotel and saloon, which provided upper floor overnight accommodations and residences for longer terms. It was a working class establishment in a warehouse and industrial part of downtown Denver, just north of the Downtown City Center. The building also underscores the impact of German immigration to the growth and development of Denver: German speaking citizens found saloon establishments to be important locations to gather, socialize, and interact.
The property was sold in 1918 to Interior Realty and Investment Company. Shortly after, in 1919, it was again sold to Elmer Sommers, who renamed the building the Airedale. He modified the roof pediment on the 20th Street facade to reflect the new name. In 1940, the building was sold to Jacob Burkhardt. The first floor was converted to a restaurant and bar, and the upper floors continued to be a hotel. In the 1960s and 1970s, the upper floors were converted to a rooming house.
During the 1990s, Paul Tamburello Generator Real Estate development acquired the building and begin restoring it, adding numerous upgrades. By 2013, the building was renovated to accommodate the current hostel on the second and third floors as well as the restaurant on the first floor and crawl space.
digital.denverlibrary.org; denverchannel.org; http://www.thinkgenerator.com/development/project/historic-airedale-building; National Registry Eligibility Determination, Barbara Norgren, 1985; Historic Places National Register, section 7, p. 1-4, section 8, p5-9; Thomas Sanders, personal visit, Jan. 2017.