Sunday, January 20, 2008

Republic Building

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 1941

circa 1953, note that Courthouse Square park has become a parking lot.

circa 1925

circa 1926

circa 1927

circa 1927, showing beautiful detail on the Tremont Place entrance

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.

For additional information on Block 209, home of the Republic Plaza, click here to be taken to

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


msc said...

Stumbled upon your blog and it's enjoyable thing I have to comment on: Re: the Clayton Building - you said: "Notice the occupant of the lowest level. The Flick is assumed to be an adult movie house." WHY would you assume that? "The Flick" was a revival house during the 1970's nostalgia craze. (Larimer Square was in full swing and it was very much in keeping with the ambience. Very popular. Very mainstream.) They played Charles Chaplain, W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, etc. In the later 70's and early 80's they played foreign films with subtitles. It was a first class operation. Assumptions should be handled very carefully.

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