1122 Washington Avenue
This 1866 photograph is of Jeffco’s 3rd and oldest surviving home, the Loveland Block, in its most regal appearance. Once the Colorado Territorial Legislature vacated the upper floor of this building the County government moved into Representatives Hall, the large upper room story of the original forward portion of this building. The Territorial government only met in this building a grand total of around a couple months from 1866-67; however, the Jefferson County government stayed here much longer. The Commissioners continued to enjoy Loveland’s valued hospitality until moving down to Ford Street in 1871.
The Loveland Block itself was originally built as the forward portion only of the building pictured above, in 1863. Sitting County Commissioner Duncan E. Harrison laid its cornerstone, which may be seen above the central window of the 2nd story of the Washington Avenue facade. The building was built by Loveland and Golden’s Masonic Lodge, the first Masonic organization in Colorado, whose square used in its first organization was among those items placed in cornerstone of the future County Courthouse. The 1st floor of the Loveland Block served as Loveland’s Mercantile and the 2nd as the Masonic Hall. During the early 1860s a one-story warehouse was built two-thirds the way back to the alley, which Loveland topped in 1866 by the rest of the total rear addition, still under construction in this photograph. Loveland did so in response to growing whining from Denver media about Golden housing the legislature in its “leftover vacant stores and barns.”
Next door to the north may be seen what at this time is the store building of Ensign B. Smith, a colorful figure of Golden’s history also known as Mexican Smith, an 1840s pioneer who started out in the Spanish Southwest. The building, constructed as a hotel in 1859 by Harriet Williams (Jeffco’s 1st businesswoman and one of the very few female town company members in Colorado), was moved two years after this photo to lower 11th Street, where it burned in 1876. The building at the very far left, Joseph Remington’s blacksmith shop built in 1864, would also burn up a year after this photo was taken. However, you may still visit Remington’s1864 cottage at 711 12th Street (Banks Insurance). Next to his blacksmith’s shop in this photo is Golden’s town well, the remains of which street crews would run into early in the 20th Century. Of the things in this picture, only the Loveland Block remains today, though the beginnings of the future 12th Street Historic District have already begun.
The Loveland Block would get a plate glass storefront in 1905 in a renovation by prominent German immigrant and Golden Mayor Nicholas Koenig, whose family owned the Mercantile here for 57 years. All of the Roman arches of the front were finally taken out in 1922, and the cornerstone was given to Golden’s Masonic Lodge. A wooden third floor, added in 1868, was also torn off at that time. The blind (false) windows of the 2nd story forward section were gradually punched out over the course of time. The Mercantile, one of Colorado’s longest-lived establishments, finally closed down after a career of 119 years in 1978. Today the place is known as the Old Capitol Grill.
by Richard Gardner – Gardner History & Preservation
Next: The Court House Block