Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mammoth Gardens, The Fillmore and the Clarko Hotel

Mammoth Gardens and the Clarko Hotel (courtesy Denver Library Western History Collection)

Albert Lewin was involved in the building of Lakeside Amusement Park, Luna Park (Manhattan Beach), The Winter Garden, and “the Carnival Pavilion” at 712 17th Street, the first public market in Denver built in 1881. His dream was to create a year-round, indoor entertainment complex. The Mammoth Gardens opened in 1907 and served as a roller skating rink for the “carriage class” of Denver but failed to turn a profit and closed in 1911.

Mammoth Gardens opened in 1907

It was then occupied for a few years by the Fritchle Automobile and Battery Company, a manufacturer of electric cars capable of traveling 100 miles between charges. Later re-opened as Mammoth Gardens, a first-class sports house offering ice-skating, hockey, ice polo, basketball, wrestling and boxing. During its life, Mammoth Gardens was the home to Denver's first professional ice hockey and basketball teams. James Brown performed in the room in 1960. The building even served as a warehouse for the Colorado Mercantile Company at one time. Stuart Green bought the building with plans of turning it into a concert venue emulating Bill Graham's Fillmore in San Francisco; during the next six months, the venue hosted concerts from artists such as the Grateful Dead, The Who and Joe Cocker.

The concert venue was blamed by city officials as being the reason for the downfall of the neighborhood; in October of 1970, the building was boarded up. Briefly opened as "The Market," where vendors sold fresh baked goods, produce and arts and crafts. Mammoth Gardens is opened as a facility that would accommodate sporting events, entertainment, music, dancing and restaurants; after only 14 months, the building was again closed because of disagreements between partners. Mammoth Gardens is purchased by Manuel and Magaly Fernandez and opened as a home for their multi-cultural concerts and dances. In addition, the couple worked with outside promoters to bring to the venue national touring concerts.

The Clarko Hotel, which once fronted the building, was torn down in 1990 to the delight of many Capitol Hill residents, using a $350,000 loan from the Mayor's Office of Economic Development. In 1999, opened as The Fillmore Auditorium where the tradition continues. Ever since, the building thrives as a music venue and the view of the original structure has been much improved as a result.

Courtesy Save the Signs on Colfax

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