Art & Design
When I recently visited the Pinnacle Club at the Denver Grand Hyatt, the newly renovated walls whispered of their past. As a third generation native Denverite, few locations in the Mile High City are as iconic to me as the Pinnacle Club. Of course, it used to be the Petroleum Club, and I have spent many hours on various New Year’s Eves throughout my life when the mantra there was to never tell tales of those evenings. But as all lasting icons must, the Club has changed, grown, and reinvented itself. In this transformation, the Pinnacle Club is the perfect symbol of Denver and her denizens—able to change and grow as needed in order to stay relevant, without changing their ultimate character.
Without question, the characteristic that makes the Pinnacle Club one of the most iconic venues in Colorado, and the West, it its view. On the 38th floor of the Anaconda Building next to the Denver Grand Hyatt at 1750 Welton Street, the view is unmatched. With views in every direction, you feel cradled between the Front Range and the high plains and swathed in the lights, noise and action of the city. According to Maryann Yuthas, the club’s director of public relations, the view from the Pinnacle Club spans over 10,000 miles of snowcapped peaks and high plains with a view stretching, literally, from Wyoming to Pikes Peak. A visitor can see 200 named peaks, 32 of which rise to 13,000 feet or more above sea level. In fact, the area is so large, it is greater than Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Combined. It’s the equivalent of seeing every tree in Massachusetts. At once.
The space was initially opened in 1978 and housed the Petroleum Club, one of the original private Colorado social and business clubs, where Denver’s movers and shakers, both men and women, went to be see and be seen. Founded in 1948, the Petroleum Club had grown to a membership of 2,400 with a three-year waiting list in 1978. In those days, the Club was a symbol of the Denver oil boom, and the space reflected the time. It was place to socialize and do business while looking over all of Denver and seeing to the horizon. The Club also reflected Denver’s independent spirit. At a time when private clubs were still prohibiting women members, the Petroleum Club welcomed them. The oil and gas industry people were well met with lawyers, bankers, developers, and others who gathered around a circular table called the Knothead Table.
The Club was self-contained on the 37th through the 39th floor with its own kitchen, mechanical, electrical and heating system, so it could operate on all days and all hours, even when the building was closed. The 37th floor had housed meeting rooms, the Men’s Tavern, a pool and card room, and at one point a cafeteria for the building’s owner. The 39th floor contained many of the back of the house necessities. These were days when deals were literally sealed with a handshake, and a good bar fight actually meant something but settled nothing. Today, the whispers of the oil and gas boom are quieter, replaced first by a restaurant, and now a place for meetings, weddings and functions. Most recently, the television reality show “American Idol” held final auditions in the ballroom to showcase the iconic view from the iconic venue.
With the Denver oil boom a thing of the past and the restaurant not producing adequate revenues, the space had to change. But it was not just the Pinnacle Club that got a makeover. The Hyatt spent over $28 million and three years to redesign the lobby, Fireside, The Bar and its top tier suites. “The owners saw the long-term revitalization of Denver and saw the growth in the city. They saw Denver investing in itself, and they said ‘We are going to invest in ourselves’,” Grand Hyatt’s former General Manager Greg Leonard said. Most striking of the renovations is the bar’s focal point of a wall of narrow, lineal fireplaces stacked on top of one another, set in chiseled stone, and rising to the 29-foot ceiling.
Continue reading the full story in our December/January issue....
Scott S. Evans is a Denver business litigation attorney, writer and lacrosse coach living in Centennial. In addition to numerous magazines, Scott has written for The Manchester Union Leader, The Wall Street Journal, The Military Law Review, The Colorado Lawyer and The University of Denver Journal of International Law.