The Denver Colorado Springs Pueblo Motorway Inc. Company (DCSPMW) Garage, now the Federal Garage Building, is located at 2106 California Street in Denver Colorado. It was constructed in 1926. The building is significant under criterion A, Events, in the area of Transportation, as it was built for bus storage and maintenance for the DCSPMW, a bus company subsidiary of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The railroad was established in 1870 by William Jackson Palmer as a means to connect Denver to the resort town of Colorado Springs (Massengill 2004). For several decades, the railroad was extremely successful. At the turn of the century, however, railroad companies experienced a decline in demand as trolleys, buses and automobiles became more popular transportation methods throughout the United States. In response, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad created the Denver Colorado Springs Pueblo Motorway Inc as a subsidiary bus company to transport passengers between Denver and southern Colorado. The California Street Federal Garage Building is significant for its important role supporting this key shift in tourism transportation patterns.
The Federal Garage Building is located at the corner of 21st and California Streets, in Denvers Five Points neighborhood. This area was an important location for the garage, as it was a key transportation hub. In 1871, the Denver Horse Railroad Company made its first connection to Five Points. By the 1880s, Five Points was a prosperous industrial and commercial center, with many transportation-related developments as well. By 1886, the city had over 150 miles of track for its first electric rail line, with several miles running through Five Points, creating Denvers first street car suburb.
During the nineteenth century, this culturally and economically diverse neighborhood was a mix of local aristocracy, European immigrants and African Americans who were legally precluded from living in other Denver neighborhoods. One important Five Points resident was Williams M. Hastings, a clerk for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (Mauck 2001:18). From the 1920s to the 1950s, Five Points supported a rich mix of local businesses, commercial enterprises and clubs where some of the most prominent jazz musicians of the time performed.
The Denver Colorado Springs Pueblo Motorway Inc. Company was formed in 1926 to provide bus service primarily to tourists. The company immediately had the garage built at 21st and California for bus storage and maintenance. They leased the building initially but did not own it until an unknown date prior to 1938. The original owner is identified in Denver records as the Auto Home Garage Company. Denver City directories list other businesses, but not the DCSPMW, at this address. The reason for this is not known, but it can be speculated that DCSPMW contracted with other specialized businesses to maintain its buses. These other companies and corresponding directory years are: Auto Home Garage Company, 1928; Costello Motor Repair Company, and Republic Truck Sales (or Republic Motor Trucks), 1927-1931; Fred L Adams Garage, 1934-35; Rainbow Garage, 1936.
The DCSPMW flourished during its first decade. The company's routes grew quickly, starting with service between Denver and Pueblo, but soon expanding to Walsenburg, Canon City and La Junta when the company acquired the Southern Colorado Motorway in 1929. This mirrored a nationwide pattern. Early bus companies, or Motorways, served as branch line feeders to the railroads that owned them, but they expanded as the publics interest grew in motoring as a leisure pastime. Numerous motorways companies, including the DCSPMW, began to duplicate the intercity routes of their parent railroads.
In 1936, the company became part of the Trailways Association, with Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads as shareholders. The establishment of the Trailways National Bus System in 1936 brought these independent motorcoach companies together as a strategically coordinated North American motorcoach scheduled route (intercity) passenger transport system (Trailways Transportation System 2011). Trailways was a conglomeration of smaller long-distance bus companies that banded together to compete with Greyhound. Within two years of joining Trailways, DCSPMW needed additional garage space. They purchased two additional lots to the northeast and expanded the building. In 1940, the company purchased four additional lots across the alley to the southeast, which they used for surface parking initially. In 1945 they built a second garage on that property, at 2101 Welton.
In 1948, Transcontinental Bus System purchased the bus operations of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, which included an interest in the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo Motorway (Linsky 2005). At this point, the DCSPMW employed over 100 people and transported about 1500 passengers per day. The remaining portion of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad was sold to Continental Trailways (officially Transcontinental Bus System) in 1960. Continental became full owner of the DCSPMW at that time.
Shortly thereafter, the garage buildings on California and Welton Streets were sold to Four States Realty Co, Inc. in 1961. In 1967, Four States Realty sold both properties to A. Bergman & Co. for ten dollars. Six days later, A. Bergman & Co conveyed the properties to the current owner, the United States of America, exchanging the properties for other property in Arapahoe County, Colorado.
The federal government utilizes the California Street garage as an indoor parking structure. Extensive modifications have been made since the initial construction, but the dates of modifications are not known. The interior entrance vestibule at the corner of 21st and California Streets appears to be a non-original enclosure, based on evidence of windows on the interior, and varied styles of brick construction. The small upper floor above the vestibule, and its access stairwell may be later additions, probably dating from the same time as the vestibule enclosure. Although these features may be non-original, it is likely that they date from the period of significance. Two openings were created in the original northeast exterior wall when the addition was built in 1938. Exterior windows throughout have been enclosed with concrete block, stucco and painted plywood, but the original windows still exist between the plywood and block. A historic service door facing 21st Street has been enclosed from the exterior, but still exists inside. Interior evidence still remains of mechanical pits and lifts that were used to maintain the vehicles. A dry pipe sprinkler system, smoke relief openings through roof, and mechanical exhaust system with large exhaust hood on the roof, have been installed. Two metal coiling overhead doors have been installed facing California Street. In 1993, skylights were removed, clerestory windows enclosed, and new roofing, insulation, and gutters were installed.
Although the building has been extensively modified, the integrity of the garage remains. The garage played an important role in the development of transportation in Colorado and other western states throughout the twentieth century. The garage maintains its integrity as a good representation of a maintenance garage of this architectural style, which was a popular style in Denver at the time of the construction in the 1920s.