History Hotel Metropole & Broadway Theater, Denver Colorado

The Hotel Metropole and Broadway Theatre were constructed in 1891 by Mr. Wm. H, Bush, a principal investor for an English syndicate, the Windsor Land and Investment Company. The architect and general contractor was an unreknowned builder from Chicago named Colonel J.W. Wood, who supposedly had previously designed and constructed a number of hotels in Chicago and San Francisco.

The Hotel Metropole has had a number of distinguished guests, including President Benjamin Harrison. The theatre has also had quite a history of noted performers, including Sarah Bernhardt, Edwin Booth, George M. Cohen, and John Phillip Sousa. In 1955, the theatre was demolished to facilitate construction of the Cosmopolitan Hotel parking facility. Much of the buildings historical significance is derived from its association with its builder, Wm. H. Bush.

The building was designed when architects were caught in the midst of a confused battle between eclecticism and the "pure" late high Victorian architecture of the 1880's, One of these movements was termed Richardsonianism, named after the architect H. H. Richardson of Chicago, Illinois, and was concentrated in the provinicial regions of the West and the Middle West. The movement's expression was based on the natural strength and grandness of the American western landscape, and became apparent in sculpture, landscape painting and architecture of the time.

Richardsonianism was typified by revived Romanesque masonry construction with heavy, barbarian proportions and ornate flower and animal motifs. Most Denver architects, rather than initiating Richardson's building types, chose instead to borrow the rusticated stone and huge round arches which dominated Richardson's career for their own building types. Richardsonianism. was generally a style (although similar in context to earlier Romanesque periods) which was a counter to eclecticism, even though it was also eclectic. Therefore, because so many 19th century architects used so many different building types as references for their own buildings, they often copied copies of copies.

Such was the case of the Hotel Metropole by J.W. Wood, who clearly took a number of generally unassociated architectural elements, and created a building that was active, lively, silly at times and eye catching in street scale, detailing and massing.

The Hotel Metropole is of architectural merit because of its Richardsonian Romanesque revival Broadway street facade. Of special interest on the Broadway Street facade was the terra cotta and copper detailed street entrance to the Broadway Theatre. The theatre itself was at the rear of the hotel and was one of the most distiguished and ornate theatres in the country at that time. Of additional merit and interest are the upper floor terra cotta window enframements and cornice work of the hotel.

The Hotel Metropole is a nine-story building with basement and large 7-story light court open to Broadway Street on the west from the second floor up. Its main Broadway Street facade is organized into three divisions vertically (a north residential tower, a center light court, and a south residential tower), and six divisions horizontally (street level, second floor, floors 3 through 6, floor 7, floor 8, and roof cornice). Originally, the north tower was identical to the south, but in 1899, an additional north tower section was constructed.

At street level, the hotel entrance was originally in the south section, the massive round arched Broadway Theatre entrance in the middle section, and a restaurant entrance in the north section. The Broadway Theatre entrance was articulated in terra cotta in the Richardsonian tradition and ornamented with copper accenting.

The second floor of the north and south towers contained three Roman windows with ornate terra cotta window lintels and side enframements. The center light court originally had a 5-bay clustered column arcade supporting round arches and a Roman balustrade.

Floors 3 through 6 of the north ana south towers contained three Roman windows per section with ornate terra cotta window lintel units. The center section was the open light court.

Floor 7 of the north and south towers contained a 3-bay clustered column arcade supporting a round arch and keystone. Between each arch was a terra cotta rosette.

Floor 8 of the north and south towers contain a 5-bay clustered column window arcade with detailed flamboyant mouldings above.

Floor 9 originally only existed in the west half of the north and south towers. When the north tower addition was added in 1899, the new addition had a full 9th floor, and ox-eye motif windows were placed on the north tower's 9th floor Broadway Street facade.

The roof level of the north and south towers contain three barrel shaped Frankish turrets with Roman balustrade infill.