Capitol Hill has undergone more change in the past
century than any other neighborhood in Denver. Henry
Brown laid claim to a desolate hill in 1864 and for
years afterward it was laughingly called "Brown's
Bluff." Brown envisioned the high ground as the
logical place to build a state capitol building, and
in 1868, he donated the area between Colfax Avenue,
Lincoln Street, Grant Street and Fourteenth Avenue for
this purpose. The remainder was platted into a true
east-west grid (going against the diagonal of the Downtown
Area) for residential use.
While Mr. Brown visualized a grand residential area,
it took Mr J. W. Smith to bring water to the area and
the city. Without the building of "Smith's Ditch"
central Denver could not have been developed. Once water
was available, Capitol Hill became the place to live.
The wealthy of Denver flocked to "Millionaires
Row" (now Grant Street) on "Quality Hill,"
and along East Colfax Avenue where they outdid each
other, constructing luxurious mansions. Architecture
that incorporated a variety of classical styles was
noted for its flamboyance became known as the "Denver
Style." Each owner whimsically added turrets, spires
and porches and the finished home rarely bore any resemblance
to the original design.
Following the 1893 "Silver Crash" and into
the early 20th century, development in Capitol Hill
became more modest; and middle-class apartment buildings
were constructed. Stately mansions along East colfax
gave way to commercial development and by the mid 1920s,
the face of Capitol Hill had changed. The "Depression
Era" brought harder times still; many of the once-splendid
homes fell into disrepair and were demolished or converted
into apartments. After World War II, multi-family housing
for the returning GIs and their families sprung up in
the neighborhood. For the next twenty years more of
the stately old homes were treated to the wrecking-ball
to make way for the construction of apartment/condominium
complexes. Recently, however, Denverites, in an effort
to preserve some of the historical character of Capitol
Hill, have rejected the wholesale construction of multi-family
high rise units and favored rehabilitation and renovation
of the turn-of-the-century homes.
Today, past and present reside comfortably side by
side in Capitol Hill. Many of Colorado's leading historical
figures lived at one time or another in Capitol Hill.
The "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Horace and "Baby
Doe" Tabor, James B. Grant, and Walter Cheesman,
whose home at 8th Avenue and Logan survives today as
the Colorado Governor's Mansion, were some of the early