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These drawings were donated to the Denver Public Library by an unknown person on an unknown date. This project was partially funded by a State Historical Fund grant award from History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society. Additional plans for the Central City Opera House donated by Edward D. White, Jr. (ca.2006).
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[Identification of item], Robert S. Roeschlaub Architectural Drawings, WH1565, Western History Collection, The Denver Public Library.
Oversize: 1 file folders, 1 box (.25 linear ft.)
Roger L, Dudley
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE :
Robert Sawers Roeschlaub was born July 6, 1843 in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. His father, Michael, was a physician, as was his grandfather who was the private physician to the King of Bavaria. Michael's wife, Robert's mother, Margaret or Margaretta was Scottish born, but despite their comfortable circumstances they emigrated to the United States in 1845 when Robert was two. They settled first in Missouri before moving to Quincy, Illinois where they remained.
When the Civil War began Roeschlaub was not yet eighteen, but in August 1862, he enlisted in the 84th Illinois Infantry - Company E as a sergeant. He saw action in October of 1862 at Perryville, Kentucky and was wounded at the battle of Stones River which began on New Years Eve and ended January 2, 1863. The injury to his foot was not serious and he returned to his unit. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in May 1863 and sustained a severe gunshot wound in his left thigh in the battle of Chickamauga, Tennessee in September of that year. He was hospitalized at the front, but eventually was sent home to Quincy, Illinois to recuperate under the care of his father. He returned to the front in February 1864 and took part in Sherman's siege of Atlanta, then helped defeat the Confederate forces under General J.B. Hood at Nashville.
Roeschlaub was promoted again, to First Lieutenant in March 1865, and promoted to Captain on June 6, 1865 but never mustered with that rank as two days later he mustered out with the rank of First Lieutenant.
Following the war he returned to Quincy where he married Anna M. Fisher on September 29, 1868. She was the daughter of a prominent department store owner in Quincy, James H. Fisher. About this time Roeschlaub also began to pursue his career as an architect in Quincy working with Robert Bunce who had moved to Quincy from Chicago a year or two earlier after working as a draftsmen at the firm of Edward Burling for five years.
Roeschlaub is frequently referred to as the "first trained," and at other times as the "first licensed," architect in Denver. Perhaps, both are correct. Regardless he was a first rate architect and designed some of the more prominent structures in Denver and Colorado.
His earliest major design in Denver was the Broadway School, in 1875, at 13th and Broadway, site of the Colorado History Museum since 1977. During his career in Colorado he designed many residences, schools, libraries, and business blocks. The final work listed in Roeschlaub's biography is the Isis Theater, in 1912. It's ornate design housed hundreds of lights which helped transform Curtis Street into a brilliantly lighted thoroughfare that helped secure the slogan for Denver of the "best lighted city in the world." It was uncharacteristic of his style, but working on it with his son, Frank, and Robert Fuller must have provided some satisfaction as his eyesight was failing.
He was a curator at the Colorado State Historical Society, was elected to the American Institute of Architects in 1889 and the College of Fellows of the AIA elevated Roeschlaub to Fellow in 1900. He was President of AIA Colorado from 1892 to 1912. In 1909 when the architect's licensing law was passed, Roeschlaub was given license Number One.
Denver commercial buildings he is credited with designing include the King Block (1879), Bancroft Block (1880), Times Building (1881), Union Block (1881), Barth Block (1881), A.T. Lewis & Son Dept. Store (1894;1902) and the I.F. Williams Store (1902). Only the Lewis Department Store and the Hover Drug Co. buildings remain. The Hover is the best surviving example of a commercial structure designed by Roeschlaub.
Other National Historic Landmark registered Roeschlaub buildings include the Central City Opera House (1878), Trinity United Methodist Church (1888), Corona School (1889), Chamberlin Observatory (1890) at the University of Denver, Cheyenne County Jail (1894) now a museum, the Hover Mansion (1902) and the First Congregational Church (Manitou Springs) (1882).
Roeschlaub retired soon after completion of the Isis Theater in 1912, and on his doctor's advice moved to Southern California. He was completely blind by the time he was honored at a dinner of the former members of the Triangle Club on February 24, 1920. He wrote a letter of thanks upon receiving notice of the honor and sentiments that had been expressed in Denver. On October 25, 1923 in died at San Diego, California. He and his wife are interred at Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE :
This collection consists of Roeschlaub's drawings for a residence for Philip Feldhauser Jr. This series of drawings is for a residence for Philip Feldhauser Jr., the son of a prominent businessman in the field of carpets and draperies. They were completed and stamped February 3, 1883. There is no evidence that this house was built for Feldhauser immediately. From 1881 to 1883 Philip Feldhauser Jr. was listed in the Denver City Directory at 320 Champa, he was listed at 130 Sherman in 1884 and 1885 and moved to a different address every year until 1889 when he is listed at 10th and Logan for three years and then at 1015 Logan in 1892. This is the type of home that would have been fit in at this location, an existing home across Logan St. is similar to the one designed by Roeschlaub, but no photographs of it have been found though a home of similar size is present on a 1904 Sanborn fire insurance map.
Additional architectural plans include Roeshlaub's orignal drawings for the Central City Opera House, 120 Eureka Street, Central City, Colorado (ca.1877). The structure was completed in 1878 and is still in use today as a popular venue for productions during the summer. Reproduction of the opera house architectural plans is not allowed.
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