On November 17th, Historic Larimer County hosted a tour of three historic buildings in Loveland’s Downtown Historic District: the First National Bank building (now Desk Chair Workspace), the Lovelander Hotel (now residential housing), and the Rialto Theater. In addition to providing a view into the city’s history, the three buildings also provided a glimpse into three different ways of reusing an older building.

This article is photo-heavy, so it may take awhile to load. Despite the fact that several photos are shared here, taking the tour is far richer in terms of sites, sounds, and information. If you would like to attend an upcoming Historic Larimer County tour or talk, please check out the upcoming events page.

First National Bank, 201 E. 4th Street

First National Bank was built in 1928 at the corner of 4th and Cleveland. The bank was managed by President Hugh Scilley and Vice Presidents D. T. Pulliam and Adolph Donath. In addition to housing a bank, the building also contained professional offices for lawyers, accountants and dentists. The bank remained in this location for 35 years before moving to a new location at 235 E. 6th Street in 1963. The Larimer County administrative offices then moved in and remained until 1990 when Interweave Press moved in and remodeled the building. Now housing Desk Chair Workspace, the interior of the building blends the historic with high-end modern details.

As described in a historical survey completed in 2003,..

The First National Bank building is an example of the Classical Revival style of architecture. The First National Bank building has a distinctive façade, unlike any other in Downtown Loveland. Centered on the north elevation is a very large arched entryway framed by massive tapered pilasters and ornate Corinthian capitals. A “capital” is the head or crowning feature of a column or pilaster. Above the entry way and tapered pilasters is an entablature bearing the words “FIRST NATIONAL BANK.” The Photos #1 (left), #2 (center), and #3 (right). Examples of Classic Revival architecture. Source: Colorado Historical Society Guide to Colorado’s Historic Architecture, 1983. Photo #4. West elevation shows front-block, and lower height rear-block. Photo #5. Primary building material is buff-colored brick. 4 tapered pilasters are faced with large terra-cotta pieces.

The entranceway to the building.

In one corner of a meeting room we were delighted to see the night drop-off vault.

The original high-ceilinged main room had a second story added.

Common areas were artsy with a touch of the historic. In two locations there were ghostly wire people, like visitors from the past.

The original capitals of the interior columns remain as a testament to the lavish interior of the former bank.

Where a rear exterior wall was cut to make a passageway into a back room, the cement was polished. This turned an exposed historic material into an artistic visual delight.

The view from the rooftop patio provides wonderful views of the surrounding Downtown Historic District.

Despite the weather, the group gathered around the front facade to learn more about the architecture of the building.

The Lovelander Hotel

Our second stop on the tour was the Lovelander Hotel. The building has undergone multiple changes over the years, yet it continues to stand as a monument to the importance of Loveland as a resting place for tourists before they would head up to Estes Park in a powerful Stanley Steamer back in the early 1900s. The tour only included the still residential portion of the building (the rest has housed the Elks for a substantial amount of time).

Entering the lobby of the hotel was like stepping back in time. The same old maps adorned the walls that had been there for tourists as they anticipated their vacations up in the mountains.

The building currently provides housing for several working class Loveland residents. Astrid explained that her mission with the building is to provide safe, sound, and quiet housing at an affordable rate. (Learn more at Astride A Starship.)

The part of the building that we toured.

The maps and other odds and ends that tourists would have seen when they entered the hotel.

The downstairs retail space is currently vacant. On the left it’s clear where ceilings were dropped for residential common areas at the back of the retail space.

The dropped ceiling made for an odd “second story” that was too small for regular use. Instead it gave access for utility hookups.

The hallways were cozy. And though we got to tour inside one of the apartments, it didn’t seem appropriate to snap photos there.

The Rialto Theater

The last place we visited was the Rialto theater. The theater was designed by Denver architect Robert K. Fuller (son of Montezuma Fuller of Fort Collins). It was completed in May of 1920. It was built primarily as a silent movie theater with a small orchestra pit in front. It was also used for special events in town such as graduations, town meetings, and recitals.

After under going several changes, including being turned into a mall for a time, the Friend of the Rialto was formed in 1989 with hopes of restoring the building to its former splendor. Beautiful interior and exterior decorations were uncovered and either repaired or, when the damage was too great for repairs, then reproduced in such a way that the new versions were similar the originals with some significant differences to indicate they were newer.

Entering the Rialto.

Ron Sladek, the president of Historic Larimer County, was involved in the renovation of the Rialto, so he gave us a first hand account of what the building looked like before rehabilitation, the process it went through, and how it got to the point it is now.

The sparkling gold of the flower at left indicates that it’s an original. The reproductions were painted to look similar, but the gold was deliberately left off to show they were newer.

The theater. We also got to visit the area under the stage, but it was so cramped that getting a decent photo was difficult.

The whole tour group in front of the Rialto Theater.