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Browsing buildings and books in old Denver.

Browsing buildings and books in old Denver The senses sharpen at dusk in summer, when cooler breezes and a soft lingering light stir the imagination. That's the time on Thursdays when the local preservation group, Historic Denver, offers tours of Lower Downtown, the century-old commercial district just north of present-day downtown.

Silver and the railroad brought a market for goods and services to Denver, along with a need for warehouses, offices, and hotels. Romanesque brick arches, robust classical cornices, deep stone windowsills, and a generally uniform five-story building height give the 15 square blocks their distinctive character. A newly expanded architecture bookstore and cafe enrich a visit to this partially restored area.

June through August, the 2-hour tour begins at 6 in front of Union Station, at Wyncoop and 17th streets. Cost is $5, $4 for seniors and children under 12; for group reservations, call (303) 534-1858.

A free brochure, produced by the Denver AIA, describes a self-guided tour of the area. Stop by AIA offices, Suite 300, 1624 Market Street, between 8:30 and 5:30 weekdays.

City Spirit Bookstore and Cafe, at 1434 Blake Street (in a remodeled sausage factory from the 1890s), offers a complementary experience. It stocks more than 5,000 titles on art and architecture. One book to look for is Off the Mall, Step by Step, by Donna Mcencroe (Denver Partnership, Denver, 1985; $10.95), a useful guide to old and new architecture throughout downtown Denver. Hours are 11 to 7 weekdays, 10 to 6 Saturdays.

At the main-floor cafe above, you can drink in the interior design with your cappuccino. Artist Susan Wick covered floors and walls with exuberant displays of tile and painted designs. Hours are 8 to 8 Mondays through Thursdays, until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Aug 1, 1986
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