Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Barclay

The Barclay circa 1883

Well, what a busy month. Our haunted tours this year were unprecedented. We were very busy. I'm still trying to recover!!! Keep them in mind next year if you like to go ghost hunting in old buildings!! Today, another creepy old building will be showcased....creepy yes, but no longer standing.....

The Barclay Building/Barclay Hotel of yesteryear stood across the street from the Windsor Hotel. Its address was approximately 1755 Larimer. This grand building, circa 1883, is best known for something positive and something negative. It was the last building used by the state legislature before the capitol building was complete enough for legislative functions. The building lost the legislature around 1894. It continued to be used as office space and as a hotel until after the Depression. By 1950, it had become known as the Barclay Apartments. It was a building very familiar to Jack Keroauc and his ilk. During the 1960s, it was known as the worst flop house in the city. Reports of the time (that I remember reading somewhere but cannot find the source) indicate that the building was full of unwed mothers, unattended children, prostitution, drug dealers and users, murders and other forms of vice. It's no wonder that by 1970, the building was enemy number one (along with numerous others). The Denver Urban Renewal Authority included the Barclay in its long list of buildings to be demolished. Its glorious past was no reason to preserve the building. Its neighbor, the Windsor, had been demolished in 1959 and it was still in good condition. The Barclay didn't stand a chance. It is only remembered in pictures today. Check out Block 48 on to see the condition of the area today. The Barclay itself eventually became the site of the Windsor Apartments. Click here for another view which also shows the Volunteers of America/Sunset Towers building in the distance (the site of the old Windsor Hotel).

If you're confused with the names, you're not alone. As with many buildings we knock down during bouts of urban renewal, we tend to forget the building but remember the name instead. So, the Tabor Block and Tabor Grand Opera House were replaced with the Tabor Center (although the old buildings were in two separate locations). The Windsor Hotel in the 1800 Block of Larimer was lost but the Winsdor Apartments were built one block down in the 1700 Block of Larimer (the site of the old Barclay). And to make things even crazier, the Barclay Apartments were built one block down from there at 1625 Larimer. See the pictures below.

circa 1910

circa 1920

circa 1933

circa 1950
This picture shows the growing changes to the Barclay as the building has been converted into apartment use.

circa 1950
This also shows the old Windsor Hotel on the far right of the picture across 18th Street. The Windor, built in 1879, was once Denver's grandest Hotel. It was lost in 1959.

circa 1967
The Barclay name is gone and the "flophouse" is now called the Hotel Clay, although the sign is strangely familiar.

circa 1970
The 1970s are very apparent in this photo. Many windows are missing and the neglect to this building is painfully obvious. Were this building still standing in LoDo today, it would be one of the most stunning structures in the neighborhood and would have been restored and protected.

The Skyline Urban Renewal Project saved the Barclay name although it was used one block away from where the original Barclay stood. This is Barclay Tower at 1625 Larimer. The shorter building is Barclay Plaza, known as Larimer Corporate Plaza today.

All black and white historic photos are from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection.