While fans were lamenting the closing of the Rocky Mountain Diner on Sunday, the story behind the creation of the 800 18th St. building where the diner dished out comfort food for 20 years was lying in wait for discovery inside The Denver Post archives.
Archived newspaper accounts told the tale of the stone facade of the historic 18th Street building, which was first erected in Denver at 15th Street and Glenarm Place.
The Ghost Building, named for real estate developer Allen M. Ghost, was built in 1889 and designed by William Lang, Denver's most famous residential architect and who also designed the Molly Brown House, according to historian Tom "Dr. Colorado" Noel.
In 1979, the Ghost Building faced the wrecking ball even though it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Public Service Co. of Colorado had signed a 20-year lease on the property contingent upon demolition of the building. The PSC's control of that lease trumped the National Register designation.
The Lang-designed building seemed destined to become a parking lot for the PSC, but Denver architect Brian T. Congleton proposed dismantling the facade stone by stone — all 1,700 of them — and reassembling it elsewhere.
"If they can move London Bridge to Lake Havasu, Ariz., we certainly can move the Ghost Building," Congleton was quoted in a 1979 Denver Post story.
The price of dismantling and preserving the stone pieces? Roughly $25,000, which was incurred by the PSC. The stone blocks sat in a warehouse for six years before they were affixed to the building at 18th and Stout.
It sat empty for roughly four years during Denver's oil bust, but in 1990, Tom Walls and his business partners leased the space to install the Rocky Mountain Diner, a restaurant patterned after the upscale Fog City Diner in San Francisco.
The diner dished out classic comfort food such as meatloaf and hot turkey sandwiches — later adding the popular pan-fried chicken — for 20 years to downtown workers and judges, lawyers and jury members who had business at the adjacent federal courthouse.
Unable to come to a new lease agreement with landlord and attorney Frances Koncilja, the Rocky Mountain Diner dished out its last dish Sunday afternoon." (from http://www.denverpost.com/pennyparker/ci_17446853#ixzz1NVjbaGOk )
NOTE: The NRHP has the building listed at its original location of 500 15th Street (N39° 44.571, W104° 59.495). The current address is 800 18th Street, about 8 blocks away.