Federal Garage Building (Welton Street), Denver, CO
Location: 2101 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205
The Federal Garage Building at Welton Street was constructed in 1947 as an expansion of the Federal Garage Building at 2106 California Street, owned by the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway). The Motorway was created in 1926 as a subsidiary bus company of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. The Railroad was established in 1870 by William Jackson Palmer, who wanted a means of connecting Denver with the resort town he had recently founded, Colorado Springs. For several decades, the railroad remained extremely successful. At the turn of the century, however, railroad companies were experiencing a decline in demand as trolleys, buses and automobiles were becoming a more popular method of transportation throughout the United States. The Welton Street Federal Garage Building played an important role in the development of transportation as it was used for bus storage and maintenance of the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway).
The Federal Garage Building is located at the corner of 21st and Welton Streets, in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver. This area was an important location for both Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) garages. In the 1880s, Five Points was a prosperous industrial and commercial center, with many transportation developments as well. Although it reminded many residents of the slums in the east, in 1881, the Five Points name came to be used because the signs on the front of the streetcars weren't big enough to hold all of the street names. In 1871, the Denver Horse Railroad Company made its first connection to Five Points. By 1886, the city had over 150 miles of track for its first electric rail line, several running through Five Points, creating Denver's first street car suburb.
During the nineteenth century, this culturally and economically diverse neighborhood was a mix of European immigrants, recently freed African American slaves, and other United States residents who saw an opportunity for prosperity in gold and railroads out West. One important Five Points resident was Williams M. Hastings, a clerk for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.
In the years following the establishment of the Motorway, a significant number of bus routes were added. Although the motorway originally only extended as far south as Pueblo, the Southern Colorado Motorway was purchased in 1929, creating more routes from Pueblo to Walsenburg, Canyon City and La Junta. With this route structure, Motorway would operate into the late 50s when, due to the American Buslines drivers strike, American was put on notice by the Wyoming commission that unless they operated the certificates in Wyoming they would loose [sic] them and the routes were turned over [sic] to Motorway as their northern division.
Throughout the 1930s, the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) continued to flourish. At first the bus operations served as branch line feeders to the railroad, but by 1935, Rio Grande Motorway duplicated the parent railroads rail service and served every sizeable city in Colorado and extending it westward to Salt Lake City, a route that was obtained when Southern Kansas Stage Lines sold its Pueblo-Grand Junction-Salt Lake City route to the Rio Grande. The Motorway became part of the Trailways Association in 1936, with Missouri Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads as shareholders in the company. Trailways National Bus System brought these independent motorcoach companies together as a strategically coordinated North American motorcoach scheduled route (intercity) passenger transport system.
The DCSP Motorways first garage on California Street was expanded in 1938 when the company purchased lots 11 and 12 from Florence Dorman in 1938. By the 1940s, the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) was transporting about 1500 passengers per day. Further expansion was inevitable. On November 1, 1940, the Motorway expanded their property again by purchasing adjacent lots 17-20 from Earl M. Howland for ten dollars and other valuables. By March of the following year, the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) obtained a permit to demolish a two-story brick dwelling. On March 9, 1945 the Denver-Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) applied for a permit to build the garage at 2101 Welton Street (Building Permit No. 2296).
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). The remaining portion of the company was sold in 1960 to Continental Trailways. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Continental Trailways announced Thursday it had become full owner of the Denver- Colorado Springs-Pueblo (Motorway) and a majority stockholder in Denver-Salt Lake-Pacific Stages. Continental, officially Transcontinental Bus System, bought the remaining 50 percent of the stock of the D-CSP line from American Buslines, Inc. and acquired one-third of the stock of D-CS-P, officials said.
The Federal Garage Building and its surrounding lots were sold to Four States Realty Co., Inc. in November 1961 (Denver County Deed Book 5436:185). On October 20, 1967, Four States Realty Co. conveyed lots 11-20 to A. Bergman & Co., Inc. for ten dollars. A. Bergman & Co. owned the property for six days before selling it to its current owners, the United States of America. The company exchanged the property in Denver for property in Arapahoe County, Colorado. In 2005, the garage was used by the FBI as a drive in/drive out crime laboratory. In 2010, the FBI released the space so it could be used as a leased build-to-suit facility.
The Federal Garage Building has had minor alterations since its original construction in 1947. The garage is significant as it played an important role in the development of transportation in Colorado and other western states throughout the twentieth century.
- Construction Date: 1947
- GSA Building Number: CO0051ZZ
- National Register of Historic Places Landmark Status: National Register Listed