Before the west was won
Housed in the Colorado National Bank building, the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel boasts a rich history deeply rooted in the excitement of the American gold rush and the romance of the Wild West.
Originally built in 1915, the bank expanded horizontally in 1925, and vertically in 1963 to accommodate six floors. The vaults were built to store gold and bonds, and later currency. Their massive doors are 33 inches thick, and weigh 62,000 lbs.
Located at the junction of Champa and 17th Streets, the Colorado National Bank was constructed in an area once deemed “The Wall Street of the Rockies,” due to Denver’s dominance as the business capital of the Rocky Mountain West. It was filled with Denver’s grandest buildings, including hotels, office buildings and banks, all owned by the city’s business leaders.
On March 11, 1933, all gold was sold to the Federal Reserve Bank. At that time, the federal government passed legislation to end private ownership of gold, and developed a centralized national currency. Until that point, all bank employees had been paid in gold, and all “money” stored at the bank was in the form of gold as well.
Adaptive reuse in the 21st century
In December 2009, the historic Colorado National Bank building prepared to undergo yet another renovation, as its transformation into a sleek downtown Denver hotel began. The goal was to create an urban gathering center with all the modern amenities one would expect from a 21st century hotel, while maintaining significant structural components from the original building, and paying homage to the city’s — and the original building’s — western roots.
The renovation added two floors to the building, capping the property at eight stories. Three of the Bank’s impressive vaults were retained, and the original large bronze doors located at the 17th Street entrance were also preserved. Additionally, the hotel honored the building’s 16 original Allen Tupper True murals, which consist of five triptychs and one large work, all depicting varying aspects of Native American life, by painstakingly restoring each canvas to its original beauty. These works of art can be viewed in the hotel’s lobby.
Much of the interior finishes in the lobby, stairwells, and on the walls and floors consist of marble, travertine and terra cotta, materials that embody the building’s history. The columns found on the exterior of the building are composed of Colorado Yule white marble—this is the same marble used in the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C.
Upon entering the hotel, its original architecture, design elements and repurposed ornamentations transport guests back in time. range, the hotel’s signature restaurant, rounds out the experience, offering locals and guests locally purveyed cuisine inspired by the Rocky Mountain west.