Time alone makes masterpieces, or so said French writer Anotole France. In the case of the recently opened 230-room Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel, located in the former historic Colorado National Bank building, one might also want to add the power of the imagination and a passionate belief in the possible.
Credit for this stellar addition to the downtown hotel landscape belongs to Denverite Navin Dimond, founder and CEO of Stonebridge Companies, a local hotel development and management firm with over 80 projects to its credit coast-to-coast. Said Dimond, “From boutique hotels of four stories to larger ones with forty, none of my hotels to-date carries the dignity, significance or importance of this particular jewel. I find value in repurposing a building over 100 years old; a building that will endure. It’s a kind of stewardship.”
That commitment to preservation delights Western historians, art aficionados and hotel guests alike. For in addition to the hotel’s spacious and comfortable rooms, the building is also home to one of the great installations of oil-on-canvas murals by the legendary Colorado artist, Allen Tupper True (1881-1955). Titled Indian Memories, a series of 16 dreamlike panels depict the life of a Native American Indian from childhood to manhood, framing the lobby at the third-story level on four sides. Above the new hotel entrance, a large arched panel, Happy Hunting Ground, depicts the subject’s final journey; a departed chief with his shield, saddle, and other trappings surrounding him on his burial platform. The murals were commissioned in 1925 to grace what architects William and Arthur Fisher deemed “a bank that looks like a bank,” a building clearly monumental in scale, dignified in appointment, and austere. In those days, such a facility also included numerous vaults for the storage of gold bullion and other precious metals.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Colorado National Bank building was originally designed in 1915 as a four-story structure on the corner of 17th and Champa Streets, crowning the then “Wall Street of the Rockies.” In 1925, the size doubled horizontally and six more column widths were added in length. In the 1960s, two stories were again added and the existing skylight turned into a semi-open rotunda. In 1998, US Bank acquired Colorado National Bank, but then vacated the downtown property in 2007. Empty and in disrepair, the building was purchased by Stonebridge in December 2009. Adding two more stories and enclosing the rotunda, construction was completed in May 2014, thus preventing access to the murals for seven years. Now eight stories high, a stronger and heavily reinforced structure provides multiple dazzling uses.
The renovation team included klipp Architects of Denver (now gkkworks) and Design Force of Denver, a hospitality design firm. Christina Skopliak, lead interior designer, directed the space planning, room layouts and choice of finish materials. “A few motifs guided our work over the five-year makeover,” said Skopliak, “such as perfect geometric shapes, especially repetitions of circles and octagons, referencing the lobby ceiling. A mix of metallic materials symbolize the banking era.” Updated LED lighting adds brilliant illumination throughout. Nine Dot Arts of Denver curated the fine art selections, showcasing regional artists in various collections ranging from historic to contemporary, and an architectural consultant kept building changes within Landmark status restrictions.
Read the full story in the April/May issue...
When You Go
Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel
Denver, CO 80202
BIO: Local author and magazine writer Corinne Joy Brown isn’t ashamed to admit she’s a first class hotel junkie, a result of traveling often, here and abroad. She jumped at the chance to write about this amazing project, in part because she has written previously about Allan Tupper True, but mostly because hotels reflect trends, values and style; mini-mirrors of our culture. This one is no exception.
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