Moffat Station

Bueno 2015!  I can’t believe how fast 2014 flew by.  I hope all of you reading had a great New Years!  I spent the last two weeks in Wisconsin and Illinois, missing out on the beautiful snow we got here in Denver during that stretch.  It definitely was nice to see friends and family though.

Because I roadtripped home instead of flying thus alleviating myself from any unwanted panic attacks, and in the spirit of ringing in of the new year, I’d like to share a haiku I wrote:

Planes, they fly so high
Merely metal fear cocoons
Here I come, Amtrak

Stick with me, peeps, I’m full of sweet skills.

Something, something, perfect segue. One of my gifts was this awesome biking coat that says my name and “Pedaling Preservation” from my dad! Now I look super professional. And also the wind can no longer break me. (Get it? ‘Cause it is a wind-breaker. Chandler Bing would laugh, you people.)  This is the only picture I have of the coat so far, so there is also a book in the shot. Book for scale.

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I took the pictures for this week’s post the Sunday before I left thinking I would post while I was home.  I was lying to myself.  But that just means I can dive right into this week’s post.

Intro:

Behold Moffat Station.  Sitting at 2101 15th Street and built in 1906.  Not too far from Union Station, Moffat Station is the only building left in Denver with direct association to David Moffat, for whom the building was named after and who played a large role in Denver’s railroad boom with his involvement with the Denver, Northwestern and Pacific Railroad.  This building sits on the northeast corner of 15th and Basset Street.

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I took this photo facing northeast along 15th Street.  Moffat Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and named a Denver local landmark in 1990.  Cool fact from the Denver Landmark page:

There are 6,600 buildings in Denver’s 51 historic districts. In addition, Denver has 331 historic landmarks.

Moffat Landmark

Designed by architect Edwin Moorman (no, not Mormon, I made that phonetic-minded typing error while researching) who was well known in Denver circles after his arrival to the area in 1900.  He built homes in prominent Denver neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Cheeseman Park, with sources noting his more recognizable designs  such as the Cody Memorial on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado.

Fun fact here, if you go to the Wikipedia page, or check out the National Register document for the Lookout Mountain area, both list Frederick Olmsted as the architect which is not fully true.  Olmsted was involved in the landscape architect designs (as you might imagine with Central Park on his resume, he was pretty good) not the building design. I’m hire-able, people!

Architecture:

This week, I’ll begin this section with what I think this building is not.  The NR document on Moffat Station lists it as: “exaggerated neoclassic.”  I’m not so sure I agree with this, since one of the predominant neoclassical traits is a facade dominated by classical columns.  Moffat Station doesn’t have columns, and while I normally feel I don’t know enough to fight an existing assessment, I think this is a big enough difference to classify this structure as a different style.

I see this more as a Georgian Revival.  The original Georgian style was popularized in the eastern United States in the late-1700s into the early 1800s, and while many examples are homes and Moffat Station comes much later, hence the revival, I think many of core characteristics stand true here.

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For starters, the rigid symmetry is one good indication.  Another are the doorways.  Original Georgian architecture often included a front door that was centered, capped by a decorative crown and usually supported by pilasters. Pilaster is a cool word describing rectangular columns that protrude from the wall-surface, or essentially flat columns.  While those exact characteristics are not present here, there are similar examples.  Instead of a decorative crown atop the doorway, which in the classic Georgian would come in the form of a pediment and/or a transom, Moffat Station has a large, exaggerate fanlight. Instead of the pilasters, there are masonry patterns surrounding the doorways.

Other notable classic Georgian features from Virginia McAlester:

  • “Cornice usually emphasized by decorative moldings, most commonly tooth-like dentils”
  • “Usually a simply one- or two-story box, two rooms deep”
  • “Windows aligned horizontally and vertically in symmetrical rows, never in adjacent pairs.”

All three of these aspects are seen on Moffat Station.  The dentils are highlighted below in red and it’s obviously a one-story building in which we can tell the windows aren’t grouped together, but rather in single but symmetric pairs.

dentils

History:

Right out of the gate:

The significance of the Moffat station lies in its association with the
Denver Northwestern and Pacific railroad line (the Moffat Line) across
the Continental Divide.

The Denver Pacific Co was incorporated in 1867 with Moffat a leading
figure in the organization. Its line built from Cheyenne Wyoming reached
Denver in 1870, and the first engine to run on that line was named the
David Moffat. The importance of this line is that ensured Denver would
become a major population center and not just remain a mere village
bypassed by all the railroad routes.

Thanks, National Register nomination form! Moffat had big dreams of creating a line that went over the Continental Divide via Rollins Pass and into Salt Lake City.  He never saw this happen in his lifetime but finally in 1928 the Moffat Tunnel, burrowing through a portion of the Divide, was opened for business.

Additionally, in the early days of the life of Moffat Station, it was used as a tourist and commuter terminal, predominantly serving Tolland, Colorado.   After switching hands on and off throughout the years between freight, storage, and warehouse companies, it closed in 1947. Sadly, in 1995 a fire broke out that destroyed the freight and baggage area of the structure.

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(Historic photos courtesy of the Denver Public Library)

Above you can see the blueprints for the building before the fire, and the affects of the fire pre-rehabilitation.

As with many of the other buildings I’ve posted on this blog, we again see Denver’s seemingly inseparable relationship with the American railroad and broader ties to the state and its mining ventures.  Colorado’s Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation produced a multiple property documentation form that looked at a number of old depots and stations and had this to say:

Railroad followed mine, it seemed, as naturally as winter followed fall. That is, in concept railroad followed mine.  The realization of the concept was another thing entirely.  Colorado terrain is integral to the story of the state’s railroads. The Rocky Mountains run through the state from north to south in a wide band, presenting what Robert Ormes has called a ‘geographical irony.’ Precious metals and mineral wealth resided in the mountains drawing prospectors, populating the territory, temping railroads.

Supply and shipping centers, agriculture and the tourist industry all followed the railroads to the mines.

What is it today?

Looking through the pictures I posted, the exterior is pretty nondescript.  There was a lot of construction going on — the workers were definitely wondering why some girl was riding her bike up and down the road taking pics — but even when I looked in the windows, there wasn’t much to help me get a sense of what it was since all I saw were a few Christmas trees and chairs and a piano.

I did find this news article, however, which writes that the plan is to turn Moffat Station into a senior living center. Excuse me, upscale senior living center.

The Moffat Depot — once a major train station for the Denver, Northwestern & Pacific railroad’s freight and passenger services — has been closed since 1947. But it’s being renovated into a community center as part of an upscale senior living community.

The Balfour senior living community includes a total of 205 affordable- and market-rate apartments, as well as assisted living and memory-care units, with about one-third of the apartments already leased. According to Schonbrun, about 400 more people are interested.

That’s all for this week! Hope you all liked my post and see you soon!


Sources:

http://www.historic-structures.com/co/denver/moffat_station.php

http://www.moffatroad.org/

Click to access co0206data.pdf

http://www.historic-structures.com/co/denver/moffat_station1.php

[Cody Memorial info] http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/90001711.PDF

Click to access 625.pdf

McAlister, Lee and Virginia. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16079coll2/id/1189/rec/2

Click to access 76000553.PDF

http://creatingcommunities.denverlibrary.org/content/moffat-station

http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/real_deals/2014/06/historic-downtown-denver-train-station-being.html?page=all