Mall Restoration…Are We Being Served?

One of the long-running British comedies consistently showing up around 10 p.m. on PBS was a favorite – “Are You Being Served?” And, one of the great episodes was about the re-modeling of the women’s department at the Grace Department Store, the setting of the series. The men’s and women’s department shared the same floor so with the announcement of the project to make over the women’s, space had to be shared for a while. Big curtains were put up around the women’s area, saws sawed, hammers hammered and workers behind the curtain cursed and dropped things all day. That went on, hidden from view, for several days, disrupting the normal department store business.

When, finally, the curtains came down to reveal the newly re-made and improved women’s department, the staff anxiously approached to take in the newness. But, it looked exactly as it had before the curtains went up. Exactly.

Now, there are curtains up around one lane of the 16th Street Mall between Tremont and Court. There is pounding, sawing, rock tossing, trucking and digging galore going on inside those curtains. And, the predicted result is that the famous Mall pavers will be overturned, cleaned and “tractioned-up” with the process repeating all up and down the mile long span. That’s called Mall Improvement. And, that’s what we get after countless public “input” meetings and overflowing suggestion boxes.

I.M. Pei designed the paver pattern to resemble the pattern of a diamondback rattlesnake. Colors have faded. Traction in the winter is non-existent for people or busses. And, Montoya Masonry appears to have a lifetime contract keeping the stones in the right places and properly grouted.

And. behind that curtain? They really are still trying to figure out the best way to get the color back and make the stones less slippery. When they do, they’ll put them all back and move to the next block.(Much to the relief of patrons of the Yard House!) Then, the next. When they get all done and roll all the curtains back, we’ll have a “new” 16th Street Mall. Just like the old one.

Meanwhile, in LoDo, restoration is taking place on an historic vertical surface – the 15th Street facade of the Edbrooke Lofts building at Wynkoop Street

Edbrooke: Putting On a New Face

The building was constructed in 1906 for the Spratlen-Anderson Mercantile Company on the original site of the Washington Hotel and Studebaker Buggy and Carriage House. In 1905, Frank Edbrooke was hired to plan a four-story warehouse to replace the old wood frame building formerly on this site, and a fifth story was added even before the initial construction was completed.  In 1911 a sixth floor was added, also designed by Edbrooke, with detailing identical to that on the fifth floor. In 1988, restoration of the building and conversion to residential units was begun by Dana Crawford.

Time, traffic, pollution, weather and other factors have taken a substantial toll on the masonry elements on the north façade of the building.  The current restoration project will encompass replacing broken bricks, repointing missing and damaged mortar, restoring/replacing sandstone on decorative bands and sills, and cleaning the exterior surface of the north façade.  Building Restoration Speciallties, Inc. is performing the work.

This project is being managed by Historic Denver and funded through History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society’s State Historical Fund.

The results are already obvious, reflecting the same quality of restoration seen across the street at the Saddlery Building. And, this restoration isn’t hiding behind a curtain!