Lincoln/Broadway Self-Guided Walking Tour

Stop 4:  In front of 402/408/412/418 S. Lincoln Street.

Topic: Discuss early pioneers and the story of Eugenie Putz Underhill and her accomplishments in Denver. 

Click on the link below to listen to read the content below:

Stop 4 - Story.m4a

Lincoln Street and Broadway always attracted the entrepreneurs and those who wanted to make it big in Denver. Famous people like John Dailey, William Byers, The Gallups, Alkires, Goodhearts, Arthur Pierce, The Mcclellands, McMurreys, and more built their opulent mansions on Lincoln Street and Broadway. One of the remaining mansions is here. The land was purchased in 1888 by a French woman named Eugenie P. Underhill and she built what is known as the “Charpiot Mansion” in 1890 as a multi-generational house. You’ll notice the stained glass window up front has the outline of Napoleon’s crown (whom she still had a fondness for).  After the Silver Crisis of 1893 and the severe downturn in the economy, new construction in Denver slowed and architecture became less extravagant because of financial constraints, since some citizens believed that extravagant spending on homes contributed to the recession. The decrease in funding following the Panic of 1893 is embodied in the construction of the four homes you see here. The larger brick house was completed in 1890, and the three triplet "cottage" houses were built between 1903 and 1911.The smaller “Cottage house styles”(including the famous Denver Squares) became a common residential design through our neighborhood because it was an affordable style of single-family and multi-family homes. Newlyweds also began moving out of their big Victorians that catered to generational living with their parents and they began moving into their own homes for the first time. The smaller “Victorian Cottages” and Denver Squares around the area reflect the new period of growth after the silver crash.

So who was Eugenie and how did she build such a big house and afford the land? Eugenie was the only sister of the famous French Charpiot brothers (Fred, George, Louis and Jacques) who built the Charpiot Hotel with its restaurant called “Delmonico’s of the West” on Larimer street and brought French fine dining and upscale accommodations to the west since 1860. From it's opening in 1871, and for twenty years after, the Charpiot hotel was akin to the reputation that we think of the Brown Palace today. Eugenie and her brothers arrived in 1859 and 1860 to Denver and she was one of only a few hundred women in town at that time. She started a French millinery business and supplied Denver’s elite with clothing during those wild west days. In 1871, the same year her brothers started the Charpiot hotel, she began her costuming business at 1516 Lawrence street and put on glamorous masquerade balls in Denver, Central City, and all over the front range and Wyoming. She was the first customer in the state and operated the business until 1901. 

What is incredible about her story is that in 1876 she became a divorcee (Scandalous!), childless and a widow, but that didn’t stop her thriving business or her real estate empire. She bought and sold tons of land all over Denver, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. In 1876, one of those plots of land she donated to the city of Westminster and she built the Baker school for girls.  By 1884, she was listed as having a greater net worth than the majority of well-to-do businessmen in this city. One real estate transaction in 1882 earned her the equivalent of $900,000 today! She was also on the board of directors for the Denver, Marshall and BouLder Railway Company and was part of the Fifth ward, precinct 5 voting delegates and committee for the 1897 primaries!  She did all of this while being a divorcee (which often meant she was ostracized from proper society gatherings and parties), a French immigrant, and a WOMAN. Many of the successes of her brothers were funded by her as well, although in history her brothers took the credit for everything; including the Charpiot Apartments that are located on 3060 Larimer Street. The Charpiot Apartments are known as being the first apartment buildings in Denver. They built the apartment in the style of “French Flats”. The building still exists today and has the name of the “Charpiot Apartments” on the top. 

Eugenie never had children of her own so her niece and nephews were her life and beginning in 1903, she built the three duplicate cottage Victorians next to the mansion; one for each of them. Her nephews and nieces all lived between these houses off and on between 1890 and 1940 and have their own incredible contributions to Denver and the world. 

George Joseph Charpiot started the Charpiot Safe Company. His safes are located in city halls all over the country and in the original Wells Fargo banks. The safes were labeled as the most burglar proof in the country. They manufactured the safes on Glenarm Street up until the 1950's.

Her Grand nephew, Herbert Aloysius Jones was Commander of the US Navy after WWI and secured the largest movie contract (at the time) which brought motion pictures and theater equipment to every base and ship in the system. His son, Herbert Charpiot Jones died, but earned a medal of honor during the attacks on Pearl Harbor during WWII. He had a  destroyer ship named after him. Her other Nephew, Charles Charpiot, was a prolific art nouveau poster artist whose pieces of art from 1896 are in the Met Gallery. 

There must be something inside the water at the time here in the old town of "South Denver" that produced such incredible people.

Click on the link below to hear the destination of the next stop:

New Recording 41.m4a

Eugenie Putz Underhill (nee Charpiot) - Source: History of the State of Colorado, Hall. Pg 601 

Charpiot's Hotel and Delmonico of the West Restaurant. Source: “Lost Restaurants of Denver” by Robert and Kristen Autobee

“Charpiots Delmonico's of the West, 386 Larimer Street,” Denver Public Library Special Collections  Call Number: X-18540 

 The Charpiot Apartments (First apartment building in the city) - Google maps - 3060 Larimer Street, Denver, CO. 80209 

Charpiot Safe Company -  Denver Public Library Special Collections  Call Number: MCC-3816  “Denver Business,N-Z”