Civic Center Park: The Greek Theater and Voorhies Memorial

This week at the Masonry of Denver we are looking at civic architecture, so naturally I wanted to investigate Civic Center Park.  The park is framed by the Greek Theater and Colonnade of Civic Benefactors to the south side, and the Voorhies Memorial to the north.  The two structures are so consistent in design and materials that I always thought of them as a single structure.  It turns out they are two separate structures designed by different architecture firms and constructed at different times.  Yet both structures were part of the larger, City Beautiful plan for Denver’s Civic Center backed by former Mayor Robert W. Speer’s in the early twentieth century.


The Greek Theater and Colonnade of Civic Benefactors, shown above, is located on the south end of Civic Center Park.  It was designed by architects Willis A. Marean and Albert J. Norton and was constructed in 1919.  Both Marean (pdf) and Norton (pdf) trained in the architecture office of Frank E. Edbrooke, the prolific Denver architect.  While working for Edbrooke, Marean was involved with the design of Denver landmarks such as the Brown Palace Hotel and the Masonic Temple on 16th Street.  In 1895, Marean and Norton started their own architecture firm and began designing houses.  They went on to design several celebrated buildings, including the Cheesman-Evans-Boettcher Mansion (now the Governor’s Mansion) and the Cheesman Park Pavilion.

According to the National Register nomination for the Civic Center Historic District (pdf), the Greek Theater was designed as an open-air theater that could seat 1200 people. The seating area is framed on the north by fluted sandstone light poles and two small bronze lion statues sitting atop sandstone bases, which you can see in the photo below.