1100 14th Street
Sat 10AM–4PM, Sun Closed
Architect: Original Unkown; David Owen Tryba Architects, FAIA (1998); OZ Architecture (2014)
Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival
Year Built: 1911
Hotel Teatro occupies a downtown building that was originally built as the Denver Tramway Company’s office tower. The history of the Denver Tramway Company begins with the advent of public transportation in Denver. In 1871, horse drawn cars on tracks were used for transportation in the downtown area. Electric cable cars were introduced in 1885, and in 1886 two companies were consolidated to become the Denver Tramway Company. After fierce competition over the next 13 years, more companies were consolidated in 1899 to form the major public transit system of Denver, called the Denver City Tramway Company. With one later name change back to the Denver Tramway Company, this organization was the key to public transportation in the Denver area until 1971, when operations were taken over by Denver Metro Transit.
The Denver Tramway Company played an important role in forming the map of Denver as we see it today. At the turn of the 20th century, real estate investors bought vacant land in Denver and influential investors had the Tramway Company install rails on their properties, which sent the land prices up and led to the construction of houses and streets.
The Denver Tramway Company came to power, in part, through the well-known and influential Evans family. Colorado’s second Territorial Governor, John Evans, appointed by President Lincoln in 1862, was involved in much of the first rail transportation in Colorado. The first Evans home was on the site where the Hotel Teatro now stands. John Evans’ eldest son, William Gray Evans, was more directly involved in the Denver Tramway Company. As president of the company, in 1910 he retained two of Denver’s up and coming architects, William E. and Arthur A. Fisher, to design an eight-story office tower and adjacent two-story car barn. The construction of the building was overseen by John Evans II and the building was completed in May 1911. Its design incorporated a modern steel skeleton, Chicago-style office space, and a traditional Renaissance Revival style edifice of glazed red brick and glazed white terra cotta.
After World War II, transportation by street car became obsolete in downtown Denver. The University of Colorado at Denver purchased the Tramway Building in 1956 to serve as the nucleus of its downtown campus. The school faculty moved into the Tramway Office Tower, and the car barn was converted into classrooms. By the late 1980s, the university had moved most of its facilities across Cherry Creek to the Auraria Campus. In 1991, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts moved its offices, workshops, and storage areas into the car barn portion of the Tramway Building. The tower portion of the Tramway Building stood vacant for several years. In 1997, David Owen Tryba Architects began the process of restoring the Tramway Building Tower into a luxury hotel that stands today as the Hotel Teatro. The proximity of the hotel to the Denver Performing Arts Complex inspired the name “Teatro,” which means theatre in Italian.
The original architectural style carries into the lobby of the contemporary hotel, where the use of Tennessee light pink marble flooring and Vermont green marble base combine with white Arizona marble wainscoting. The original décor is also seen today in the entrance to the hotel, as careful attention was paid by the architects who designed the renovation to preserve this historic detail.
Fisher & Fisher was an architectural firm based in Denver named for partners William Ellsworth Fisher (1871–1937) and Arthur Addison Fisher (1878–1965). The firm was founded in 1892 by William Fisher, and included many architect partners over the decades. William was joined by his younger brother, Arthur, in 1907. They worked together until William's death in 1937. The Fisher brothers were unusually innovative, and the firm's buildings are in a variety of styles. The Railway Exchange Addition of 1909 to 1913 and the connected Railway Exchange New Building of 1937 (now the Hotel Monaco) in downtown Denver show contrasting styles by the same firm. In Colorado, the firm worked on dozens of notable buildings, and has left a legacy unique in the state. Of 67 surviving buildings in Denver identifiable as being designed by Fisher & Fisher, 50 are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as part of historic districts.
Tryba Architects is a Denver-based architecture, planning, and urban design firm, specializing in public architecture and urban revival. David Owen Tryba (born 1956) is the Founding Principal of Tryba Architects, which boasts a national reputation for design excellence. Tryba received his Bachelors in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado in 1977 and his Masters in Architecture from the University of Colorado in 1981. He founded Tryba Architects in 1988.
David Tryba has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) including Architect of the Year, Colorado and Firm of the Year, Western Mountain. He also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Colorado in 2005 and was elected President of the American Institute of Architects Colorado in 2007. Some of his buildings in Denver include History Colorado Center, the Denver Botanic Gardens Visitor Center and master plan, the Justice Center, the Wellington E. Webb Building, and the Crawford Hotel.
Mary Voelz Chandler, Guide to Denver Architecture; National Register of Historic Places application, Hotel Teatro: www.hotelteatro.com/our-hotel/history.