Mayor of Denver and gubernatorial candidate, John Hickenlooper, recently spoke at the Saving Places conference I attended a couple of weeks ago. Pretty much everyone is familiar with his story of being one of the founding fathers of Wynkoops Brewpub in Lower Downtown (LODO) Denver. I also knew that he was involved with some other Brewpubs.
What I didn’t know is how much of a preservationist Hickenlooper is, and that he also helped to start Coopersmith’s in Fort Collins. The story goes, that after Hickenlooper was laid off as a geologist in the mid 80’s, he did some traveling and visited the Falling Rock Ale House in Berkeley, CA and was impressed with the brewpub concept. Long story short, a couple of years later Wynkoop was born in LODO, at that time an almost forgotten area. In 1989, I worked a block from Wynkoops, and can attest to the area being down and out. At that time Denver still had the viaducts coming through LODO, effectively bypassing LODO for downtown Denver.
Shortly after Wynkoops was open and wildly successful, Hickenlooper hooked up with the owner of Old Chicago’s at the time to open up Coopersmith’s in historic downtown Fort Collins in 1989. At that time, Old Town Square was only a few years old and was still trying to find its groove. Hickenlooper went on, with various partners to open a number of brewpubs accross the country. Every one of these brewpubs was located in a historic building in downtown locations. This earned him a 1997 for Preservation Honor Award for “inner city development in historic buildings” by The National Trust for Historic Preservation. At the time Coopersmith’s opened, it was only the restaurant side. Across the way, where the poolside is now, was the Fort Collins Comedy Works. How many of you remember that?
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