The Republic Building represents another battle lost in preserving Denver's colorful built environment. Economic forces and varied business interests from the late 1970s came together to push for the building's demolition in 1981. The photos above show the Republic Building first in 1927 shortly after its construction from the corner of 16th and Tremont. The second shows it across 16th Street in a reflecting pool at Courthouse Square in 1933 shortly after the Arapahoe County Courthouse was demolished on that same site. The Republic Building housed numerous doctors offices, as well as other businesses, and was a beautiful piece of architecture. While the building was lost, the name remains tied to the site, as it was replaced by Denver's tallest building: the 56-story Republic Plaza.
While many criticize the plain and faceless nature of the current Republic Plaza building, also known as the Republic Tower, it represents well the era in which it was built. The modern style skyscraper, finished in 1984, was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merril. It remains the tallest building not only in Denver and Colorado, but the entire Rocky Mountain Region.
But its predecessor was nonetheless a sight to behold. Designed by preeminent Denver architect G. Meredith Musick, the building contained early Art Deco elements, which Musick later took full throttle, especially with his beautiful design of the Bryant-Webster Public School in northwest Denver. His Republic Building took up a quarter of Block 209, from the alley between Court Place and Tremont Place, along 16th Street. This structure definitely had a special place in the hearts and minds of Denverites. These feelings were not enough to save it, although the preservation battles from the early 1980s were certainly hard-fought and vociferous.
circa 1913, the building on the upper right shows what stood on the site of the Republic Building prior to 1925. Without more research, the deeper history of this building and any predecessors is unknown, although it likely dates from the early 1890s.
All black and white historic photos are from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection.