This weekend, April 12-13, get an inside view of some of the most interesting spaces in the Queen City of the Plains. Doors OPEN Denver celebrates ten years of inviting the metro-area community to drink in Denver’s unique architectural landscape and check out many buildings that are rarely (if ever) open to the public.
This free event invites urban adventurers to visit a dozen neighborhoods across Denver and see cultural institutions (such as the Black American West Museum), municipal buildings (like the McNichols Building), and historical spots, including the Governor’s Residence and the Zang Mansion. Of the 61 spaces, 45 of the locations will host guided tours. Additional biking and walking tours are scheduled throughout the weekend.
While the event is presented by the Denver Architectural Foundation, it is not intended specifically for architects (though they are, of course, welcome). Attendees are encouraged to seek out new areas or spaces they are unfamiliar with. Below are some ideas to get any would-be adventurers started on the path of exploration.
For those keen to take a trip to the north neighborhoods of Five Points, LoDo, and RiNo, don’t miss: historic landmark Fire Station #3, the “Pride of the Points;” a factory-turned-art-gallery; the Women’s Bean Project (housed in the old Fire House 10 building); or the 1891 Paris Hotel building—which has since been turned to lofts.
The neighborhoods on the east side of town (Hilltop, Montclair, and Park Hill) showcase a Spanish-style library, complete with tile roof; a Depression-era elementary school; and a building that began as a sanitorium in 1888, was remodeled in 1909, and now serves as an event space and offices for Denver Parks and Recreation.
Several mansions feature heavily in the central part of town, including the Zang Mansion (once home to the founder of the Oxford Hotel) and the 8,700 square-foot Tears McFarlane House. Other centrally-located gems include the Denver Water Three Stone Buildings, which have never before been included on the Doors OPEN Denver circuit (and are never open to the public).
Southsiders are showing off, among others, the Sherman School building (now home to the Art Students League of Denver), two Episcopal churches, and one of the newest buildings on display: the Denver Animal Shelter.
Some of the treasures to the west are the Firehaus, the Historic Elitch Theater, and the Troy Chavez Memorial Peace Garden, an outdoor community healing space.
You can find a full list of the participating sites on the Doors OPEN Denver website, so choose your own adventure.
—by Leah Charney
Leah Charney is sassy yet classy and is most excited by the things she can't stop writing about, like food, music, and people. She directs operations for the WideFoc.us team, which is just a fancy way of saying she is chief cat herder.