Original Building: Grant Avenue Methodist Church Architect: Harry J Manning Architectural
Style: Gothic Revival Year Built: 1908 and 1920
Designation: Colorado Historic Landmark
Photo Restrictions: No
The Historic Grant Avenue Building is iconic for a variety of reasons: its architectural design style is clearly definable and representative of the era during which it was built, the church played an important role in the development of the neighborhood, an ecumenical contribution was made to the community, good works were provided to the citizens Denver, and while it is no longer a part of its original order, it has become the home to several different local nonprofit organizations.
Harry J. Manning designed many public and residential structures, including Historic Grant Avenue Building. Manning was born in Peoria, Illinois in 1877, and attended school in Illinois. By 1903 he was the head draftsman for Reeves & Bailey in Peoria.
He came to Denver in 1904 and formed a partnership F. C. Wagner. Their firm quickly received many prominent commissions with their initial projects focusing on sanitarium buildings. The practice was expanded to include educational buildings, churches, and residences. Manning was well traveled and studied many arhitectural masterpieces in Europe.
Manning utilized a variety of styles when designing, and he was adept at combining style with different building materials. His Denver portfolio includes the Capitol Life Insurance Building, Cathedral School, Mary Reed Library (Denver University), Fairmont Elementary School, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and mansions for Charles Boettcher, Oscar Malo, and Mrs. Vernar Reed. In 1933, Harry Manning died in Denver at the age of 56.
The building is peculiarly situated because it sits on what appears to be the middle of Grant Street and just south of Cedar Street crossing because the “Gallup Subdivision” just north of Cedar Street didn’t have alleyways behind building lots. The blocks were shorter than those to the south of Cedar, which were platted by the City and required alleys. The alleyways offset the north to south streets at this juncture. The sanctuary entrance is on the southeast corner of Grant and Cedar Streets facing Grant Street.
The building is primarily blonde brick with stone sills at the windows, and the wall parapets and door headers feature the same stone. The roof is now asphalt shingles; however, there is reason to believe that the original roof was clay tile. The building is a 30,000 square-foot, three story structure, and the sanctuary seats 500 while the auditorium seats 160. The original name and affiliation of the church was the Grant Avenue Methodist Church, and it was also referred to as Grant Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church.
Gothic Revival was a popular design style for churches between the 1880s and 1930s. The Grant Avenue Historic Building has prominent Gothic Revival features. The northwest corner has a bell tower entrance with a steeply pitched pyramidal roof and patterned brickwork walls. The tower also features a row of corbelling in a Romanesque arch pattern.
The north elevation has a gable front wall with a stone parapet cap. The wall is dominated by a two-story three panel sanctuary with a glazed opening outlined with stone quoins, stained glass, and wood tracery as well as a horizontal paneled spandrel. The glazed opening sets just above three rectangular basement double hung windows. The face is symmetrical with gothic arched doorways on each side of the sanctuary window with stone borders and narrow rectangular double hung windows hang above each doorway.
The Community Center addition abuts the sanctuary mass as a three-story block with three window bays separated by pilasters. The top of the wall has a flat parapet, which is highlighted by the raised top of the wall, which is gabled at the center bay. The window openings vary on each floor and in each bay. Despite this disparity this façade in seems rhythmic and symmetrical.
As Denver’s population grew, the Methodist Conference recognized a need for churches to be constructed outside the city limits. This site was readily available as former industrial uses and coal yards in the area were being vacated. This part of Denver had proximity to trolley and train lines from the central city, and was adjacent to developing residential neighborhoods.
Beginning in 1892, services were held in a temporary shelter until the permanent church was built on the site in 1908. The Community Center was added in 1920. Throughout history the church was a focal point for community activities and service to the City of Denver. By 2008 the church was sold and became available to multiple nonprofit organizations including churches.
Architects of Colorado 1875–1950, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, CO Historical Society, Joann Palmer and Ilene Bergsmann; www.historicgrantave.org; coloradopreservation.org; www.historycolorado.org; www.historicdenver.org/resources/learn-about-denver-architects; Colorado State Register of Historic Properties continuation sheet section 111 pages 1, 2, and 7; section IV pages 8 – 14.