The State Capitol Annex is one of my favorite buildings in the Civic Center.


Funded by the federal Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Capitol Annex was completed in 1939 as an addition to the 1894 Capitol Building located across 14th Avenue.  According to the National Register nomination [PDF], the Annex and adjacent Boiler Plant were designed by a group of architects known as the Associated Architects for the Colorado State Capitol Annex Building, led by G. Meredith Musick [PDF], a well-known and prolific Denver architect.  Other architects in the group included Arthur A. Fisher, Sidney G. Frazier, F.E. Mountjoy, C. Francis Pillsbury and Charles E. Thomas.  Several of these architects went on to collaborate on other projects as the local economy began to improve in the 1940s.  The general contractor, the F.E. Kirchhof Construction Company, was also prolific in the early part of the twentieth century.


This majestic building is like a recipe book of Art Deco features: setbacks, curved corners, windows stacked in vertical piers, and stylized ornament carved in low relief.

In the photo below, you can see the curved corner design, the stylized swag pattern carved below the first-floor setback, and the ribbed spandrel panels between each floor of windows.


The Capitol Annex was built using bright white, high-quality Yule marble from Marble, Colorado. (For those of you who have visited Washington, D.C., Yule marble was used to build the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.)  The Yule quarry closed in 1940, and the Capitol Annex was the last building in Denver to be built using this marble before the quarry was reopened in 1990.

The entrances are distinguished by large panels of polished gray granite, which may also be a local stone.  Although the granite appears heavy and monolithic, the stone is softened by curved corners at the entries and a stylized band of swags and ribs carved into the upper stones.  The building name is also carved above the doors in low relief using a classic Art Deco font.


The original design of the building, shown on this drawing from the Denver Public Library, is fairly similar to what was constructed.  It is also remarkable that there do not appear to be any major alterations to the building over the past seventy-five years.  For those of you curious about the interior, the lobby is also a study in restrained Art Deco ornament.  Apparently, there are still murals painted by WPA artists in some of the upper-floor offices.

The Capitol Annex was not the only building built on the lot.  A small boiler plant was constructed in 1939 to the south of the Capitol Annex.  Boiler plants are usually utilitarian in design and materials, but this one was designed by the Associated Architects using the same white marble cladding and stylized ornament as the Capitol Annex building.


Most of the Capitol Annex Boiler Plant was clad with white marble, but the south façade also has buff brick and the set-back second floor is clad with bright white terra cotta.  The stylized swag motif at the first-floor parapet, the ribbed motif at the second-floor parapet, and the curved blocks of the Boiler Plant entrance echo details of the Capitol Annex building next door.

AnnexBoilerdetail2    AnnexBoilerdetail1

As you can see from the photographs, the marble is fairly soiled on both the Annex and the Boiler Plant.  Just imagine both buildings as white as the terra cotta in the Boiler Plant photograph above.  Between the modern Art Deco design and the original luminosity of the stone, this building must have been quite eye-catching when it was completed in 1939.  It is still an architectural treasure to be preserved for future generations.