Lincoln/Broadway Self-Guided Walking Tour

Stop 7:  Walk back to Alameda and stop at 227 S. Lincoln Street. 

Topic: The Nicolletti Family and Prohibition on South Broadway.

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Stop 7 - Story.m4a

Broadway was beginning to thrive thanks to the easy transport of people from downtown Denver to Englewood via the various streetcar systems and it earned the nickname of the “Miracle Mile”.  “The Flemming brothers noticed this. The ran a huge array of enterprises touching all components of South Broadway from the 1880’s to WWI. They created their administrative headquarters at the Flemings Block (Also called Flemings Hall) at 68-74 South Broadway. They built the First Ave. Hotel, and the Fleming Brother’s building supply yard kept lumber behind the hotel in the alley. The Brothers literally built South Broadway and the surrounding neighborhoods.  They had figured out ways to sell homes to people on installment payment plans (a  precursor to mortgages) and it helped people from all walks of life to afford a home within this neighborhood. All told, they built more than 1,000 houses in the area. They also built numerous commercial buildings and the original car dealerships that lined South Broadway.  Because of their thriving mortgage business, they decided to create a bank to help facilitate it. This was known as the Broadway Bank within the Alkire building at 97 Broadway.”¹²

“In 1907, the Colorado General Assembly passed the first bone-dry law. By 1910, 20 out of 25 counties that voted on the question of whether to become anti-saloon territories, chose to become anti-saloon territories. Denver was among the five holdouts. In 1914, Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment limiting alcohol in the state except for medicinal or sacramental reasons. In 1915, the Colorado General Assembly went a step further and passed Senate Bill 80 (S.B. 80), which enacted laws against the possession, distribution, and advertising of intoxicating liquors. S.B. 80 also outlined law enforcement’s duty to search, seize, and destroy intoxicating liquors. If an officer had personal knowledge or reasonable information that intoxicating liquors were kept in any place, the officer could search a business with or without a warrant. The law, however, exempted private residences from these searches.” There were several neighbors in the area who worked as bartenders or owned their own saloons, including Ernest Stabenow on the 800 block of South Lincoln. Stabenow joined various bartender leagues to lobby against prohibition and fought fervently to stop Colorado and other states from turning dry.

During Prohibition, one of the Nicoletti Brothers lived in this house. Thomas Nicolletti had owned a bar called the “Nicoletti Brother’s Saloon” on 13th and Larimer. The Nicoletti’s upon hearing of the pending prohibition began to stock-up on wine and alcohol in the basement of their homes. The police couldn’t search for the alcohol there! This was common for many residents at the time who began storing all the alcohol they could in their basements before the city went dry. The Nicoletti brothers converted their saloon into a cigar store and sold bootleg liquor upstairs. 

It was reported that on the last night of legal alcohol, December 31, 1915, the New Year’s Eve passed quietly, more like a wake than a celebration to ring in a new year. Finally, on November 5, 1918, the Colorado General Assembly adopted an all-encompassing prohibition on intoxicating liquors. The new law strictly limited possession of intoxicating liquors to druggists and broadened the search and seizure powers of law enforcement, including the ability to seize any device used to carry liquor, including automobiles. Eventually the Nicoletti Brothers were caught for bootlegging in 1920 when a police warrant searched their house and found over 25 gallons of bootleg whiskey and wine hidden in a secret compartment under a clothes box and in the basement in apple boxes. I was told by the owner of the house that later several years ago, a descendant of the Nicolletti family visited the owners of their old house and had fond memories talking about where their grandparents kept their large stash of liquor that was stored in the basement. 

Meanwhile, despite the goal to reduce public drunkenness, arrests for drunken disorderly conduct increased during this period. Local crime organizations brewed, transported, and distributed intoxicating liquors. Parents even made bootleg liquor at home to ensure their children would not be poisoned by bad liquor made by underground organizations.

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Stop 8 - Introduction.m4a