The Armory was designed by famed English architect William Quayle and built in 1889 to house the Colorado State Militia and related weaponry in Denver’s premiere Curtis Park residential neighborhood. In January 1893, a new Governor, Davis Waite took office. His single two year term as Governor ultimately involved with the State Armory. He mobilized the State Militia three times from The Armory, one to Denver and twice to Cripple Creek.
COLORADO MILITIA & COLORAOD LABOR WARS (1894-1903)
In 1904 events are known as the Colorado Labor Wars and are widely viewed as the most violent interaction between labor and management, in United States History. In 1903, Republican Governor Peabody held office and with a strong anti-union agenda ordered the State Militia from the armory to Cripple Creek to assist mine owners in breaking the Western Federation of Miners strike. When the militia arrived the district was placed under martial law and Cripple Cree Police, and Teller County Sheriffs were disarmed and prevented from performing their peacekeeping duties. The State Militia, in cooperation with agents, Texas Rangers, and strikebreakers then violently rounded up and incarcerated union members.
THE OLYMPIC AUDITORIUM AND BOXING (1913-1938)
The building strangely passed into private hands in 1913 and went through a series of incarnations as a dance hall, social club, roller rink, truck dealership, and most notably from the 1920’s-1938, The Olympic Auditorium, site of some of the biggest boxing matches in Denver history. It was renowned as, “the best arena in the west”, “the coolest spot in Denver”, and because of the elegant architectural design, “Boxing presented in an atmosphere of refinement”. A boxing magazine, The Olympic Sports News was published here during this period. In 1964, World Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston trained in The Armory for the Muhammad Ali, (then Cassius Clay) fight.
ART NEON (1838-1991)
In 1938, the building became Art Neon the largest sign plant in the Rocky Mountain west, where nearly all of Denver’s early large neon and artisan painted highway billboards were created and manufactured. Major interior and exterior alterations were made converting the armory to industrial purposes. After Art Neon, several sign companies operated there until 1991.
THE DIGITAL ARMORY (Present Day)
is an Artist-Designed, Experiential space for the fabrication and development of tech-based, interactive and storytelling media. The digital armory provides artists the tools and creative space to become leading contenders in the denver arts and business markets. The digital armory is a place for artists to include the pubic in exploring the world of digital possibilities. The building now houses recording, video, and podcast production facilities, music studios, private performance venues, and a large space for community based multimedia art instruction, creation, display, and performance. The ultimate goal is to provide a safe nurturing space for musical, dance, and visual arts instruction, collaboration, and performance, and to incorporate traditional and digital recording technologies in an incredibly historic building.