Home Featured Listings Property Search Community Information About Us The Latest News (Blog) Our Blog: Learn More Property Search: Learn More Home Facebook Twitter LinkedIn RSS Feed

Homesteaded by H.C. Brown (of Brown Palace fame) in 1864, the land that would one day be the epicenter of Colorado law was an undesirable, barren hill. The town folk soon dubbed the hill "Brown's Bluff" and saw it as a wasteland that would amount to nothing.

However, Brown was a consummate dreamer and built his first cabin on the land. His hope was that the ever growing population of Denver would expand to his little addition and his foray into Denver real estate would not disappoint. While laying out his lots for sale, Brown created an east-west street pattern, which directly conflicted with the north-west layout of the city center. This would not be his last act of rebellion against the city fathers.

In 1868, the territorial government decided that the wandering state capital, which had already called Colorado City and Golden home, was to return to Denver. Brown, seizing on the moment, offered the required 10 acres to the state for the erection of the capital building. While Brown's offer was not the only received by state legislators, it was the most attractive. Brown's dusty bluff had an unobstructed view of the Rocky Mountains and was far away from the already present brown cloud over central Denver. Brown gamble on Denver real estate had succeeded. His subdivision would now pick up steam as the Capitol building attracted prominent homeowners and businesses. However, it would take another 18 years for construction to begin. The Capitol would not be completed until 1908.

Luckily, the who's who of Denver society did not feel it necessary to wait for the Capitol building's arrival to begin the development of the surrounding neighborhood. Mansions were constructed by the likes of Horace Tabor, John Evans, Walter Cheesman, and David Moffat. The Denver homes built by these early barons, as well as others, were a testament to the extravagance of the Victorian Age. Crazy mixtures of architectural styles blossomed. The heady brew of architectural ignorance and an overwhelming need to display their wealth resulted in an almost cartoonish neighborhood. Many, more sophisticated, owners of Denver homes were bothered by their attempts at 19th-century castle building.

Croake-Patterson Mansion.JPG
An example of mixed styles in Victorian architecture found in Capitol Hill.

Today, what homes remain are revered by the city of Denver. Several have been saved and are on the historic register. William Lang, one of the cities earliest architects, especially loved working with natural stone from the area. He is responsible for many developments throughout the city, but his most famous example is the Molly Brown House at 1340 Pennsylvania Street.

While the Capitol Hill neighborhood was peppered with lavish mansions, it was also home to many middle-class families. The close proximity to downtown Denver, and the introduction of street cars, made the area desirable to the non-wealthy. Many apartment buildings were constructed, to the dismay of the elite neighbors. In fact, several of the wealthy opted to move out of the area to protect their image. It may be unbelievable today, but at that time having an address on Colfax Avenue automatically declared you to be wealthy.

In 1893, the Silver Panic struck Denver. All Denver real estate development stopped. Many of Capitol Hill's wealthiest citizens lost everything. Homes that were being constructed were immediately converted to rentals or apartments. Lavish grounds surrounding mansions were sold off to pay the bills. Many of these unloaded lots were used to build more subdued homes, reflective of the changing economic times. This is apparent on many blocks where large mansions are flanked by smaller homes.

Capitol Hill has ridden the roller coaster of popularity for over a century. A boom and bust area, the wealthy would inhabit and abandon as their fortunes allowed. In the 1930's, many of the mansions were left empty and converted to apartments or boarding houses. Throughout the 1940's and 1950's the common route was to turn many of the mansions into office buildings or demolish them to construct a modern apartment building. In the 1960's, the dreaded hippie made Capitol Hill a funky homestead of art and experience. Many of the Victorian edifices were knocked down in the name of progress.

However, in the 1980's the saving of these aging Denver homes became a hot topic. Groups like Historic Denver sprung up to save the Molly Brown House from demolition, as well as protecting dozens of others through easements. In the 1990's, the city of Denver revitalized the lower downtown area, LODO, making the streets surrounding it a more inviting place to call home.

Now, in 2010, the Capitol Hill area is again booming. Many of the homes are being restored and made back into single-family homes, while others are being converted from austere rental apartments into charming condominiums. The apartment buildings that arose in the 30's, 40's and 50's are now vintage and hold their own appeal to aficionados of certain eras. Those Victorian homes held for decades by companies and civic organizations have made it through the gauntlet of "imminent domain" and survive for all to marvel upon.

Capitol Hill is an eclectic, funky, historic area that is at the epicenter of everything Denver has to offer. There truly is something for everyone in the area, be it a walk-up apartment, a duplex, a condo, bungalow, a Denver Square or an immense Victorian mansion. For a tour of the Capitol Hill neighborhood or any other Denver real estate, please contact Vintage Homes of Denver at 303-564-2245.

Copyright © 2013 Vintage Homes of Denver

Real Estate Website Design by High Elevation