Hi. We’re alive! Forgive our pointless absence. Clare has been working longer hours than usual and we recently traveled to see friends tie the knot, moved all of our belongings into a new place and generally settling into lazy autumn evenings with Crockpot dinners and Netflix. We just finished Bloodline and Narcos. Recommendations?
Let’s talk about the Rossonian. I took these photos on a foggy morning a few weeks ago but have admired the structure since we moved to Denver two years ago. The Rossonian was built in 1912 as a hotel but it became known for its bar and live jazz scene. Our city was still a majorly racist place in those years and black musicians like Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and more were commissioned to perform at other venues in Denver proper but couldn’t stay in the hotels because of their skin. Accommodations at the Rossonian, and Five Points in its entirety, welcomed them. The bar soon became famous for its late night performances by nationally-known singers and jazz artists. It’s not a coincidence that the Five Points Jazz Festival folds around the streets surrounding this hotel every year.
It’s no secret that Five Points and the surrounding neighborhoods continue to become gentrified. Seeing these historical landmarks get an opportunity to renovate and reopen and the variety of houses get facelifts is exciting but, like any decent-hearted Denverite, I hope that it doesn’t come at the expense of the elements that make Five Points what it is. This used to be the heart of the city and it’s been rich in its diversity. Many of the families that have called it home for decades are getting priced out. Damn it, Denver.
The Five Points community suffered from the late 1950s through the late 1990s because of drugs, crime, and urban flight. Many properties were abandoned, the local economy became somewhat irrelevant and the larger market found local business conditions unappealing. Attempts at redevelopment were made but there were many hindrances to reinvestment. The district became a no-man’s land in need of a larger vision and a new generation of leadership.
Five Points has always been a neighborhood with a diverse economic mix of residents, evidenced by the variety of houses there. Mansions were built next to row homes. Many of the rich began moving out of Five Points in the late 19th century to live in the more popular Capitol Hill neighborhood. Five Points was also home to a large Jewish population and is still home to a former synagogue, Temple Emanuel, on the corner of 24th Street and Curtis Street. After World War II, many Japanese-Americans lived in Five Points. Agape Church on the corner of 25th Street and California Street was once a Japanese Methodist church. – Wikipedia
Clare articulated my feelings about the hotel when I first showed it to her sometime last year. She was delighted by its very existence, charmed by its story and upset at its current state. While the outside has been carefully preserved, why is this legendary hotel just sitting there like a ghost on the corner of 32nd and Welton?
The hotel’s shape gives way to a triangular ballroom inside, though I’ve never had the pleasure of exploring it. The Westword wrote a great article back in January about the hotel’s history and future prospects.
Last fall, word leaked that Sage Hospitality — which runs the Oxford Hotel, as well as hotels around the country, and was a partner in the Union Station redevelopment — would partner with Civil Technology to put a luxury hotel in the Rossonian. ‘We are still not far enough for me to confirm anything yet, but I can tell you we’re looking at it,’ Sage spokeswoman Kate Davis said at the time; today she says Sage has no updates.
Meanwhile, the ghosts are clinking their champagne flutes.