It takes all kinds to make a vibrant neighborhood and Capitol Hill is defined by nothing so much as by diversity. This is no squeaky clean, mixed-use, New Urbanism creation, but rather a genuine big-city district with roots that run deep into Denver’s first decade of existence.
Henry C. Brown, owner-builder of the Brown Palace Hotel, homesteaded here in 1860 and donated land for the capitol building, while another original homesteader, John W. Smith was hired in 1864 to build the 25-mile “City Ditch” from the South Platte River to irrigate the barren wasteland that was Capitol Hill, prior to completion of the ditch, in 1867.
Water instantly transformed the Hill into a sought-after residential neighborhood. With the Silver Boom in full flower the rush was on to Capitol Hill, where weary urbanites could escape the crush and din of dirty, overcrowded downtown and savor magnificent views of the snow-capped Rockies.
Notable among its affluent residents were Horace Tabor; J.K. Mullen, the philanthropist; smelter magnate Nathaniel Hill; banker Charles Kountz, and, of course, Henry Brown. The Hill’s classic Queen Anne, eclectic Richardsonian Romanesque, and refined Neoclassical mansions were designed by Denver’s leading architects including Fisher and Fisher, Frank Edbrooke, and William Lang.
The tenor of the times changed dramatically on the heels of the Silver Bust of 1893, and the nature of Capitol Hill development changed with it, becoming more pedestrian and middle class. A wave of apartment construction in the 1920s was followed by the onset of the Great Depression during which most homes on the Hill became multifamily as people struggled to eke out a living.
Capitol Hill’s resurgence began in the 1970s when Historic Denver, Inc. saved the Molly Brown House from the wrecking ball and continues today as numerous dedicated neighborhood groups and individuals labor to restore and revitalize Colfax Avenue, “the city’s next LoDo.”
Here you’ll find just about every convenience imaginable along with ready access to vibrant nightlife in downtown and LoDo and shopping galore at renowned Cherry Creek Mall and Cherry Creek North. The recently completed Beauvallon, on Capitol Hill’s west edge, offers sophisticated urban living amidst Euro-style shops and restaurants.
Wherever you choose to live on “The Hill,” you’ll be within walking distance of Civic Center Park and Cultural Center to the west and Cheesman Park to the east, two of Denver’s largest parks. Capitol Hill is also home to the Colorado School of Art and Design, Colorado Ballet, Wild Oats Community Market, the Governor’s Mansion, the Gothic-style Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral.