On Halloween, I took a break from handing out candy at Trick or Treat on Main Street to stroll down Harrison Avenue. I was struck not only by the creative costumes and decorations, but by our beautiful downtown buildings — many of which have recently been restored.
I started at the dilapidated facade of the Herald’s office, filled with hope knowing that construction crews will soon restore the building to its 1895 glory. I walked under the Tabor Grand’s brick walls, double-pane windows and metal cornice, all of which were restored in 2015. The $9 million rehabilitation project followed decades of disrepair, including the crumbling of the building’s northwest corner after a rainstorm in 1989.
Smoke rose from the fire pit in Treeline Kitchen’s courtyard, one of the two restaurants to occupy KW Plaza. The construction of the plaza in 2017 brought the geographical center of Harrison Avenue back to life, a project that honored the legacy of the building that once housed Safeway and Sayer-McKee Drug Store that collapsed during a 2014 snowstorm.
I passed by recent improvements to the buildings that house Community Threads, Two Dog Travel and Harperrose Studios, which include fresh coats of paint, new windows and renovations to upstairs apartments that now house local workers.
A few blocks down, Two Mile Brewing, located at 101 Harrison Ave., served up pumpkin beer from the reconstructed skeleton of a gas station, now featuring large windows and a patio overlooking the mountains. Crossing Harrison Avenue to double back northward, I was greeted by the Wild West aesthetic of Wild Bill’s refurbished front facade.
A few blocks later, I marvelled at the gorgeous bricks that make up the south and west facade of the Tabor Opera House, each of which was repaired during phase one of the building’s $15 million rehabilitation. I peered through the windows of Title Company of the Rockies and Elevation Goods, businesses that now inhabit the recently remodeled storefronts at 322 and 324 Harrison Ave. Three new loft apartments occupy the second story above.
I passed by new coats of paint adorning the brick walls of the Scarlet Tavern and the Quincy building, shades of charcoal and brown that paired nicely with Sunday’s overcast skies. Cast iron columns held up the 19th century bones of 510 Harrison Ave., a project that will soon bring back the building’s historic 14-foot-tall west-facing windows.
Zaitz Park was alive with music and cheer, made more colorful by the tilework, mural, li-burro and fire pit created by local artisans. The Delaware Hotel, freshened with new green trim, sat empty awaiting the end of a ground floor remodel that will soon house a restaurant and coffee shop.
The neon lights on the Golden Burro’s marquee glimmered, showing off the building’s 1958-inspired rehabilitation that took place this year. I looked up at the intricate paint work on the molding above Melanzana’s storefront, which was expanded in 2017, before crossing the street back to the Herald.
Throughout Leadville’s history, the condition of Harrison Avenue has represented the city’s fortunes — its booms and its busts. By the looks of Harrison Avenue these days, Leadville is booming.