Denver Capitol Hill History
Capitol Hill is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods dating back to 1864 when Henry Brown laid claim to a desolate hill. In 1868 Brown donated the land to build our State Capitol and continued to spearhead his dream of a residential area for the remainder of his land. Mr. J.W. Smith helped Brown reach his dream by building the “Smith’s Ditch” which would supply the land with vital water. Soon after, Capitol Hill became the place to build and live.
The now historic district, “Quality Hill”, along Grant Street, was born and competed with the East Colfax Avenue for the most luxurious mansions and wealthiest families. The “Denver Style” architecture was created which combined a variety of classical styles and included turrets, spires and porches. The original design of the houses was hard to find.
Shortly after the development of Capitol Hill, the 1893 “Silver Crash” hit Colorado and drove many people out of the mountains and into the growing city. The rise in population spurred the construction of modest, middle-class apartment buildings and commercial development along Colfax Ave. The “Depression Era” then brought an end to many of the mansions of “Millionaires Row” and throughout Capitol Hill.
Many were found in disrepair and were demolished or converted into multi-unit buildings. After World War II, apartment and condominium complexes were again in demand for the veterans and their families. For the next twenty years the face of Capitol Hill slowly converted.
Recently, however, the beauty and rich history of Denver has been reborn through the efforts of many preservation and historic organizations, including CHUN. Historic designation of neighborhoods and structures have preserved and protected the beauty of Capitol Hill as well as tough zoning regulations and the active role and support of the residents themselves.