Chester S Morey Mercantile Building

Jewel of Warehouse Row

When completed this building was said to be the most elegantly appointed “business house” in the West. This was typical of a time when warehouses wanted prestigious buildings as they combined storage,  production showrooms and corporate offices. It was considered one of the jewels of “Warehouse Row,” as Wynkoop Street was often called.

Still Seen Today

Of special note is the double-wide alley off 16th Street, many of the businesses had storefronts along the alley for retail sales with a loading dock for easy access to railroad cars. The train tracks that were in the front of the building for easy transfer of goods can still be seen today. The building is now the second location for Tattered Cover Book Store. The building has a second story entrance that used was once used to access the old 16th street viaduct. Looking just above the front for to tattered cover you can see the door that now leads to nowhere. In 1907, Morey acquired the Lee building across the alley to give him room for his expanding business and constructed an enclosed walkway to connect the Morey Mercantile Building and the Henry Lee building. This walkway can still be seen connecting the Tattered Cover to the henry Lee Buiding on the east side.

16th St Viaduct

The 16th street viaduct was at the south end of Union Station and provided passage for that immediate area, it ended close to the back of the Morey S Mercantile building. The viaducts were used to easily transport goods to and from Union Station.

Chester S Morey

Chester Stephen Morey was a veteran of the Civil War and an eye witness to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, after which he became a traveling grocery salesman. He came to Colorado to recover from Tuberculosis. He founded what became one of the largest Mercantile businesses in the West at the turn of the century.

 

The Business Side

mills

groceries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The structure included a spice grinding mill, roasting plant, extract laboratory and print shop. In addition to manufacturing and selling all manner of food products, Morey sold brooms, writing tablets, matches, snuff, chewing Tobacco and cigars.

solitaire_coffee

On the first floor Morey installed sales offices for his Solitaire brand of food products and on the second floor housed the cooks to test recipes that were later published in the popular cookbook, Solitaire High Attitude Cookbook. Independent grocers would come to work with Morey representatives, stocking their stores with various products made and distributed by Morey. A store that sold Morey products would have a sign out front saying that it was a “Home Owned Store” and beneath that a Solitaire Logo.

tom-oatis-grocery-store

The Morey Mercantile was a thriving concern until it was finally sold to Continental Foods in 1956.

Present Day

Almost sixty years later, Morey’s great, great grandson Mark A Ferguson decided to resurrect the history and love of the name Solitaire and opened a restaurant on West 32nd Avenue.

Solitaire_Denver_restaurant

Fun Fact

Douglas Fairbanks worked at the Morey Mercantile as an office boy before being fired for sliding down an elevator rope, ended up studying acting and ended up in Hollywood. After moving to Hollywood Douglas became an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. He was most famous for his roles in silent films such as The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro but spent the early part of his career making comedies. 

Douglas_Fairbanks_Sr._-_Private_Life_of_Don_Juanjayarsignedphototob

 

 

-Miranda Lowe

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