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One of Denver’s most respected theaters was the Broadway Theater, part of the nine-story Metropole Hotel, which was built on the block originally owned by Henry C. Brown, builder of the adjacent Brown Palace Hotel. Brown built his fashionable residence on the block, which he later sold to silver king Horace Tabor and his wife, Augusta. The house became the Commercial Club after Augusta’s death in 1895, and was demolished in 1903 to make way for new commercial structures.
The brilliant opening night, August 19, 1890, saw many of the city’s most prominent citizens, occupying the hundreds of seats and the 25 boxes, which were onion-domed and partially enclosed with intricate metal grillwork. The main curtain was painted with an East Indian scene, and the overall decoration of the interior space was so exotic as to raise more than a few eyebrows among the well-traveled patrons. The stage was forty feet in depth and seventy five feet high. Behind the stage were three lofts, a scenery dock and even a portable porcelain bathtub, used for the star’s dressing rooms. The theater played host to everything from grand opera to musicals and high drama, lectures, concerts, vaudeville, benefits and school pageants.
Leasing of the Broadway Theater to the newly formed Metropolitan Amusement Corporation took place in 1932, with plans to remodel the theater space for motion pictures and expanded stage shows. The theater was closed in 1935 for extensive remodeling, and was reopened as a movie theater that same year. After a few years as a first run movie house, both the theater and hotel were acquired by Trader Vic’s, and were again updated. Trader Vic’s, one of the city’s popular taverns, occupied a space that housed the long corridor lobby of the Broadway Theater.
The Broadway Theater, Metropole Hotel and other structures were razed in 1956 to make way for the much-touted Mile High Center, a high-rise office building designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, at 1700 Broadway, and for the Wells Fargo branch building, at 1740 Broadway.
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