Thursday, August 14, 2014

A 1914 Fritchle electric car reinstalled in History Colorado Center

By Corrie Sahling
The Denver Post

Bryan Andrews, left, and Jesse Gregory, right, and the rest of the crew from Ship Art Denver work to reinstall the historic Fritchle electric car at the History Colorado Center.

When the 1914 Fritchle electric car trekked to the Colorado History Museum in the late 1980s, it drove on its own four wheels in a snowstorm.

On Tuesday, the car arrived at the History Colorado Center in pieces. And its tires never touched the carpet. Then the 100-year-old car was slowly and carefully reassembled by employees of Ship Art Denver.

Inch-by-inch over the course of 50 minutes, it was placed on its platform in the museum's "Denver A to Z" exhibit. The car was back together by 11 a.m.

"This is one of our major pieces in our collection," curator Leigh Jeremias said. "It is important to us and to the public. People kept asking about it."

The Colorado-made Fritchle car is model number 283 out of about 500 and is possibly the only one that still exists, according to Bill Convery, state historian for the center. "We know that because we tried to search for another one when this one was being restored," he said.

Since 2012, the car was being restored. It was damaged in storage by a water main break as the new history musuem was being built.
During the restoration, a cutout of the car kept its place at the A to Z exhibit.

The Fritchle Car Company, owned by Oliver Fritchle, was in what is now the Fillmore Auditorium at East Colfax Avenue and Clarkson Street.

In the early 1900s, the car would have sold for $1,500 to $4,000, according to Jeremias. The electric engine was much more expensive than gas, making the car marketable to society women, such as Molly Brown.

"It has a luxury feel," Convery said.

It is large enough inside that a big hat could be worn and was weather-proof so fancy clothes wouldn't be ruined by rainy or snowy weather.
The cars could go about 100 miles per battery charge and went up to 25 mph.

The car's stay in the center is dependant on the exhibit, but Jeremias said it would be around for five years.

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