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Located on the banks of the South Platte River, the lower downtown area of Denver, known as LoDo to residents, was the original settlement of the city. It was founded in 1858 by General William Larimer after gold was discovered in the river. While the area went through many transformations over the years, including the great fire of 1863, LoDo’s fate has always reflected the spirit of the people of Denver.  

Even today, there’s gold in LoDo, but it’s in the form of extremely valuable real estate.

One of the unique aspects of this historic area is its collection of vintage buildings, many of which were built more than a hundred years ago and constructed of brick. This classic vibe has been discovered by the younger residents of Denver – the Millennials – and LoDo has become one of the hottest spots in the city to live, work and play.

In order to better understand the lure of these brick buildings for Millennials, Chad Corcoran, district sales manager of Acme Brick in Castle Rock, was asked to offer his insights about the area. It’s an interesting tale of how the sustainability and charm of historical buildings, constructed of brick, really are timeless.

The Old World Charm of Brick

The LoDo district in current-day Denver is in the heart of the city, literally and figuratively.

“It’s got lots of old-world charm,” Chad noted. “It brings the entertainment and arts district together to make a very special place.”

This area has the highest concentration of brick buildings in the city and many feel this is integral to the distinctive look and feel of the district.  Chad agreed.

“Denver was a small cow-town a hundred years ago and it has developed into a modern, technology driven city. All of the brick buildings bring back the old school feel of the city and give LoDo that warm, rustic feel.

“Some of these building are more than a century old and they are just as attractive and structurally sound today as they were when they were first built. This says a lot about the sustainability of brick construction.

“One of the great things about brick as a building material is the value it adds to the structures. It’s not just a question of the longevity brick adds to a building, but there are also advantages in maintenance (it never needs painting), security (it’s almost vandal-proof), and value (it has lower insurance costs because it is hail and wind resistant).

The Great Denver Fire

In April 1863, a fire consumed the entire city of Denver, including what is now the LoDo district. Because of this wholesale devastation, the city government passed an unusual law which came to be known as “The Brick Ordinance.” This law, in effect until the 1940’s mandated brick construction for all new buildings in the city. It is because of this ordinance that the LoDo district has the large group of brick buildings today. This safety factor of brick construction was the motivation behind The Brick Ordinance and that consideration is still important to modern day Denver. Chad explains.

“We have had some very large fires in the Denver area over the past few years. One which occurred in Rocky Mountain National Park destroyed all of the buildings in the park. Had these building been constructed with brick, they would most likely still be standing.

“Brick adds that factor of fire protection, which is really important in the state of Colorado”, he noted.

The Oxford Hotel

One of the most iconic buildings in LoDo is the Oxford Hotel.  As is the case with Acme Brick, the hotel is celebrating 125 years of operation this year!  

“Union Station and the brick-constructed Oxford Hotel are the focal points for the lower downtown area,” Chad said. “They are located near Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies play their home games. As a result, many residents and visitors pass these structures every day.

The beautifully renovated Oxford Hotel maintains its color, even after a century.

“That’s another added value of brick construction,” he noted. “The color doesn’t fade. A brick’s color is derived from natural earth minerals, not artificial pigments, and firing makes it permanent. So a new brick building will have the same rich color decades from now.”

New Brick Buildings in LoDo

Acme Brick supplies bricks for new homes, office buildings and apartments throughout the Denver metro area. Some of these buildings are in the historical LoDo district.

“There are several new buildings in LoDo which are constructed of brick,” Chad said. “ Amli Riverfront Park, Alta City House, EPA Region 8 headquarters, 16 Market Square, Denargo Market and 1560 Market Street, just to name a few.”

How do these new brick buildings blend in with the historical buildings found in LoDo?

“Because brick brings that old world charm, they blend in perfectly with the existing buildings in area. They look great,” he concluded.

Have you decided to build a new home in the Denver area? Have you considered the advantages of brick construction? Click here to talk to an Acme Brick construction expert about the Denver neighborhoods that are offering brick.

Photo Source: Ken Lund via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Since its founding in 1891, Acme Brick has continually advanced the art and science of brickmaking, to make brick an affordable, sustainable, enduring, and beautiful choice for America's homeowers, builders, contractors, institutions, and businesses. - Contact Acme at  
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